A king gave an open invitation to all of his countrymen to visit him, telling everyone that they could come into the throne room to speak to him until noon. He also put out his palace treasures out for display. Some of the countrymen paused to gaze at the weaponry and they became so absorbed that they did not see that time was passing. Others became fascinated by the jewels and focused their attention on them. Still others stopped to take in the beauty of the gardens and the trees, the artwork and sculptures. Each of the subjects found something in the palace that interested him and indeed, mesmerized him so much that he forgot about the king.

Among the subjects was a simple farmer. He did not understand weaponry, jewels, or gardens. But he was excited for the simplest reason; he had a chance to see the king. He did not stop to marvel at any of the king’s possessions. Instead, he rushed straight to the throne room to see the king. And when noon came, he was the only one of the subjects who had seen the king.

Rosh Hashanah is a day when G‑d reveals His Kingship. The palace is open. Some seek wealth, some seek friendship, and some seek wisdom. And then there are those who seek nothing else but the King.

Nor will seeking the King cause one to lose out on the other periphery matters. Think for a second, when one comes face to face with the King, isn’t it logical to assume that the King will provide him or her with everything they need?

Rosh Hashanah

In our prayers on Rosh Hashanah, we say: “Today, the world was created.” Now that statement is problematic, because we know that the world was created five days earlier, on the 25th of Elul. Why then do we consider Rosh Hashanah as the birthday of the world?

The explanation that is traditionally given is that Rosh Hashanah is the anniversary of the creation of man and that lifts the world to an entirely new level.

What is the advantage that man contributes? The resolution given is that all the other created beings do G‑d’s will naturally, without any conscious desire. The plants grow, the planets move in the orbits, and animals roam the forests all in praise of G‑d. Their actions testify to His creative power, the awesomeness of the wisdom He invested in making every created being, and the wondrous harmony with which the world was endowed. But this testimony is given unknowingly, without the plant, animal, or object appreciating how it is revealing G‑d’s greatness.

Man, by contrast, can understand. His acknowledgement of G‑d is conscious. He appreciates G‑d’s greatness within his mind and proclaims His oneness and His Kingship as a product of his comprehension. No one is forcing him to do so. He understands and proclaims G‑dliness on his own initiative.

But this provokes further questions: What difference does it make if the creation testifies to G‑d’s oneness and kingship consciously — as man does — or unconsciously — as does the world at large? Obviously, from man’s perspective, there is an advantage. The animal is not consciously aligned with G‑d’s oneness, while man is. He feels uplifted that he has attuned himself to G‑d’s desires. But that advantage is man’s. From G‑d’s point of view, why is man’s conscious acceptance of His will any better than the animal’s unconscious fulfillment of His will?

The resolution to these questions lies in the comprehension of G‑d’s purpose in creation. Our Sages’ explain that He created the world, because He desired a dwelling in the lower realms. Just as a person reveals his character in his own home, so too, our world will serve as the place where G‑dliness will come into consummate revelation.

Now if the created beings themselves would not comprehend G‑dliness, it could hardly be said that G‑d’s dwelling would have reached the lower realms. For there would be a realm of existence — the way the created beings look at the world from their own perspective — that He would not have permeated. Therefore G‑d created man with an identity of his own and a mind of his own with the intent that man use his mind to understand G‑d and then willingly subjugate his identity to G‑d’s purpose.

Although coming to this understanding and making such a commitment is appropriate throughout the entire year, on Rosh HaShanah, it takes on a much greater importance. For since Rosh Hashanah is the anniversary of the creation, G‑d’s intent is renewed on that day. By aligning ourselves with that intent, we set in motion a process leading to the consummation of that intent and the coming of the Redemption when G‑d’s Kingship will be overtly manifest in all existence.

Looking to the Horizon

One of the fundamental elements of our Rosh Hashanah service is the sounding of the shofar. Among the many explanations given for the significance of this mitzvah is that it is a foretaste of the time when: “The Great Shofar will be sounded,” at the time of Mashiach’s coming.

To explain: The sounding of the shofar serves as the medium to express our acceptance of G‑d’s Kingship. Just like on the earthly plane, trumpets are sounded at the coronation of a king, so too, our sounding the shofar marks our acquiescence to G‑d’s sovereignty and our commitment to carry out His will.

Nevertheless, in the present era, our acceptance of G‑d as King is somewhat incomplete. For no matter how full-hearted it is, we have a natural tendency towards self-concern. We have our own wants and desires. Simply put, it is likely that, in our Rosh Hashanah prayers, we will concentrate more on the words “Inscribe us in the Book of life, blessing, peace, and prosperity” than on the words “Reign over the entire world in Your glory.”

In the era of Mashiach, this dichotomy will be erased. We will identify with G‑d’s Kingship, not only from the perspective of our spiritual personalities, but also from the standpoint of our physical desires. For “good things will flow in abundance... and the occupation of the entire world will be solely to know G‑d.”