Dear Readers,

One of my favorite prayers sung on Rosh Hashanah (as well as on specific times during the year, like on public fasts days and during the 10 days of repentance) is Avinu Malkeinu, where we repeatedly request blessings and salvation from G‑d, as our Father and our King.

Both the king and parent paradigms are genuine and powerful. Yet they move in opposite directions. A monarch establishes a definite distance and authority over his subject. Parental love, on the other hand, is characterized by attachment and closeness.

During our prayers, we merge the two paradigms of G‑d as king and parent.

Prayer is a paradoxical activity. On the one hand, a basic element of prayer is acknowledging all of the undeserved goodness that our King has showered upon us—articulating our thanks and appreciation for it. We acknowledge G‑d’s ultimate goodness and that whatever happens to us must be good.

At the same time, the commandment to pray is to express our spiritual and material needs and wants. Anytime we feel that something is amiss in our lives, we are commanded to ask G‑d to correct those things.

Yet if everything originates from our generous King—who is the ultimate goodness and who knows far better than us what is good for us—how can we ask Him to “change” His plan? How can we “demand” more goodness from our benevolent King while realizing how unworthy we are?

Because prayer is G‑d allowing us to not only relate to G‑d as a transcendental king on a spiritual level, but also as an imminent, caring parent. Prayer is G‑d saying, “Show Me how things look from your viewpoint, from within your world.” It allows us not to bypass our inner emotions, wants, fears, needs and insecurities, but to focus on them, put them in perspective and validate them.

At the same time that G‑d as our king decrees Divine law, we beseech G‑d as our parent who is always present, ministering to and facilitating for us. Nothing—not the material aspect of our world, nor our physical natures—can sever the unshakable bond between a parent and child. Prayer is realizing that our Creator’s love will shake the very fabric of our world to bring us fulfillment.

From this deep place, we see our Creator not as a foreign, faraway Being who is only concerned with the spiritual growth of His subjects, but rather as a loving Parent who intimately relates to us on our level and with our wants. G‑d, as a parent, shares in our pain and cries together with us, holding our hand in darkness and distress.

On Rosh Hashanah, as we coronate G‑d as our King, we connect with G‑d’s innermost desire to forge a connection with us—as our Father first, and then our King.

May our Father answer all our prayers for the good in this coming year!

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW