By Rabbi Binyomin Halpern
(Calgary) – Rosh Hashana is just around the corner. The High Holidays are a busy time, and an important time.
There are meals to be prepared, services to be arranged, and apples and honey to be picked and purchased. This is true in general, but especially this year, when as individuals and as a community we continue to evaluate how we emerge from the last year and a half.
This can all be very stressful. At times even overwhelming. But stress and worry are hardly helpful attitudes in preparing for a holiday.
In addition, a major theme of Rosh Hashana is Malchiyut- Kingship, that we acknowledge and proclaim that Hashem is King, and Master of all creation.
This seems easy to understand intellectually. Hashem, as the Creator, is in full control of His world. But how does one internalize this idea? Or another way to put it, what does it feel like, to know fully that Hashem is King?
As I write these words in July, in the middle of ‘road-trip’ season, the following example comes to mind.
Imagine you have been looking forward to spending a few days in the mountains, and have been planning this trip for months. You have booked a rental car way ahead in advance (when they were still available at a somewhat reasonable price,) with the ‘Spendy’ rental car company. Then on the day of your trip, disaster strikes! You arrive at the rental car company office to pick up your car, only to be informed that there has been an accidental overbooking, and there are no cars left. Not one. Not even a gas-guzzling 15 seater van. You are at a total loss of what to do and feel the stress and anger building up inside. How could they do this to you! How are you going to get out of this mess! Your vacation is ruined!
The clerk behind the desk, sensing your attitude, says that the only person that might be able to help would be the manager, who has access to certain cars that are only given out at his discretion, and suggests that you discuss this with him. You are directed to the back office and you timidly knock on the door.
“Yissachar!” comes the excited cry from the behind the desk “how are you doing? It’s me Zevulun, the guy who sits next to you in shul! Please come in! What can I do for you today?”
All of the sudden, your nerves dissipate. Your buddy Zevulun is going to take care of this for you, and everything is under control.
PS- Happy ending: You emerge a few minutes later driving a Tesla convertible, a free upgrade as compensation for your previous aggravation and you drive off into the sunset.
The key to the story is that your feelings totally shift when you know someone is in control of the situation and has your back.
This is what it means to feel that Hashem is the King- it means that we can rest assured that Hashem will take care of all the details, because He knows, because He can, and because He is Malkeinu, our King, who cares about each and every one of us.
So yes, there is a lot to do leading up to Rosh Hashana. But our job is to get to a place where we can know and feel that Hashem will help us, and bless us with a year of joy, success and fulfillment.
Malka and our children join me in wishing everyone a Ketiva Vachamita Tova, a year of health and blessings.
Rabbi Binyomin Halpern is the spiritual leader at Congregation House of Jacob Mikveh Israel in Calgary.