The Alter Rebbe related: When I was in Mezritch, I heard the following teaching from my revered master, the Maggid, in the name of his revered master, the Baal Shem Tov.

[This week’s Torah reading begins:] Devarim 29:9. Atem nitzavim hayom — “You are [all] standing today [before G‑d].” The word “today” here alludes to Rosh HaShanah, which is the Day of Judgment, for the phrase,1 “The day came,” is rendered by the Targum with the words, “The great day of judgment came.” [And it is concerning this day that the Torah tells us:] “You are standing”; that is, you are vindicated in judgment.

On the Shabbos before Rosh HaShanah, which is the last Shabbos of the month of Elul, we read the parshah that begins with the words, “Atem nitzavim.” This [reading constitutes] the blessing that G‑d gives on Shabbos Mevarchim, the Shabbos that blesses the seventh month, the month that is satiated, and that satiates2 the entire Jewish people, with abundant bounty for the entire year.3

As the maamar which follows4 emphasizes, not only does Parshas Nitzavim convey G‑d’s blessings for Rosh HaShanah, it also alludes to the Divine service associated with that day. As implied by the verse “You are all standing today before G‑d, your L‑rd,” on Rosh HaShanah, all the Jewish souls are elevated to their root and source. The verse then mentions ten categories of people — parallel to the ten Sefiros — delineating the particular spiritual qualities possessed by each. Nevertheless, all of these souls are fundamentally one. This oneness is revealed on Rosh HaShanah when the souls ascend to their transcendent spiritual source. The unity among the Jewish people makes them a fit medium to draw down G‑d’s presence.

The fundamental oneness of the Jewish people comes as a result of the intimate bond they share with G‑d. For our people are bonded with G‑d by a covenant, as the passage cited above continues:5 “to have you to pass into the covenant.” A covenant preserves a relationship by uniting the subjects involved, making them one entity. As a result, even if reason and logic would dictate that the connection be severed, it is still maintained.

A Divine Request

Our Sages describe the Divine service of Rosh HaShanah as follows. G‑d asks the Jewish people:6 “Say [verses reflecting] kingship before Me to make Me King over you, [and verses recalling] remembrance so that a remembrance of you will come before Me for good.’ Through what [is this accomplished]? Through the shofar.”

This passage refers to the blessing of Malchiyos, Zichronos, and Shofros. In the following maamar, the Alter Rebbe explains that these blessings reflect three different motifs in our relationship with G‑d. By reciting the blessings of Malchiyos and Zichronos, we arouse the revelation of G‑d’s Kingship over us through recalling the covenant between G‑d and the Jewish people.

“Through what [is this accomplished]? Through the shofar,” for the sounding of the shofar adds a third and crowning motif, expressing the heartfelt teshuvah of the Jewish people. It reflects the inner outcry of the soul, a call to G‑d above the bounds of reason and logic. For on Rosh HaShanah, the inner G‑dly core of our hearts are aroused. As a result, our Divine service focuses on establishing a bond with G‑d’s very Essence, as it is written:7 “I will seek out Your face, [i.e., Your inner dimension], O G‑d.”

Generally, our relationship with G‑d is dependent on His external dimensions, how He manifests Himself in this world. On Rosh HaShanah, however, we relate to the essence of His Kingship. To establish a connection on this level, “remembrance” is necessary. For on this level, G‑d is far removed from all worldly existence and must be motivated to remember His inner love for the Jewish people. This is achieved by sounding the shofar, which arouses His very Essence.

To Be The King’s Men

The purpose of the covenant that G‑d establishes with the Jewish people is “to raise you up to be His people.” To explain: “There is no king without a nation,”8 i.e., for there to be a king, there must be a “nation,” people who are on a similar level as he who acknowledge him. With regard to G‑d’s Kingship, this is seemingly impossible, for there is no one comparable to Him. Nevertheless, He connects and bonds Himself with the Jewish people through a covenant. This raises them up to the level where they relate to Him as King.

It is, nevertheless, an interactive process. By awakening and expressing their G‑dly core, the Jews motivate G‑d to remember them and highlight the covenant He shares with them. Through such service, they arouse His blessings for a year of both material and spiritual prosperity and blessing.