Thursday, October 6, 2011

The King Awaits

Life's been a bit hectic since Rosh Hashana and I haven't had much time to blog, despite having received numerous ideas and bits of inspiration over the course of Yom Tov and Shabbos. I had to share an interesting notion that occurred to me as I examined the tefillos from Rosh Hashana (and afterward) related to HaShem's role as our King.

Many times in the past, different rabbeim/shiurim/divrei Torah have described the interrelated dual roles that HaShem has in relation to the Jewish People, which can be summed up as Avinu Malkeinu - Our Father, Our King.

HaShem's fatherly role is described as merciful, compassionate, forgiving, the aspect of Him in which we will find Rachamim and forgiveness for our mistakes and misdeeds.

His Kingly aspect is described as one of judgement - din, which is more strict, unyielding, the attribute by which we are held to a high standard and held accountable for our actions. He is the True King, the Holy King, The King of Judgement, among others appellations.

We even discuss the idea of HaShem moving from His throne of Din (Malkeinu) to the throne of Rachamim (Avinu) when we merit a nation-wide atonement on Yom Kippur. He is, as we say in the 2nd bracha before Shema in the morning, "Av Harachamim" - "the merciful Father" and we don't just stop there, but add "Who acts mercifully," emphasizing the aspect of mercy with HaShem our Father. (The title Av Harachamim is found elsewhere in other tefillos, too).

However, as I began to review the Rosh Hashana Davening, the insertions added during the 10 Days of Repentance, and the regular Shabbos/weekday davening, I began to notice that this strict dichotomy wasn't always true. Especially with regard to HaShem's Kingship, which is actually described in terms very different from a strict sense of retributive justice.

In the first insertion during Magen Avraham we describe HaShem as "the King who desires life." Requesting that the King write us in the book of life isn't counterintuitive - the King judges, and we can either merit to be in the book of life or the bo0k of death (chas v'shalom, lo aleinu). Yet, the King desires life!

In the second bracha of Shemonah Esrei, we describe HaShem as the King who causes death - which is a fact, since death originates as a decree from Him. Yet, He is also the King Who "restores life and makes salvation sprout," which seems (to me) to be of greater emphasis, and again an indication of our King's merciful tendencies.

In Ya'aleh V'yavo, we conclude be describing HaShem as "the gracious and compassionate King" - going so far to describe the Melech as "Rachum" - which we typically associate with our Father. There is clearly some underlying currents here that indicate a greater unity among HaShem's Fatherly and Kingly attributes. A similar wording is found in the bracha Haskiveinu after Shema at Ma'ariv and in one of the Tashlich prayers.

In the paragraph from the Yom Tov Mussaf, "Mipnei Chata'einiu," we again refer to HaShem as "Melech Rachaman" - the Merciful King.

In Selach Lanu we ask our Father to forgive our errors, and our King to pardon our willful sins.

We find in Refa'einu that our King is "the faithful and compassionate Healer."

Lastly, we find in Shalom Rav that HaShem is the King, "Master of all peace." Not the King who judges and creates strife with harsh sentences, but One who creates peace for all of Israel.

I'm sure there are others I've missed. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, but rather me shining a spotlight on an idea I had not heard of until I stumbled upon it myself.

If anyone has any more references or knows Talmudic/rabbinical sources that further discuss this fascinating notion (or at least fascinating to me) please share it in the comments.

So as we approach Yom Kippur and ask forgiveness of our Father, Our King, let us all have in mind the mercy and compassion that is utterly characteristic of HaShem, and pray that we all receive proper atonement (through proper teshuva) and merit being seal in the Book of Good Life.

To anyone I may have offended this past year with anything I wrote, I am sorry. I am especially sorry for my sometimes harsh responses/temper, in particular The Professor and Burnt Dreadlocks, for which I humbly apologize for my lack of emotional control in responding to their comments.

I hope that 5772 can be a year free of divisiveness and ill-feelings. Let us all use blogs and everything else we do in our lives, to sow harmony and unity amongst Klal Yisrael. May this year be the year - Tihiye Shana Ad Bichlal - the year that features the inclusion of the conclusion of the galus (no more galus!) and the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, Bimheira Biyameinu.

Amein, Kein Yehi Ratzon!

1 comment:

  1. Always a pleasure to read your blog especially since it puts me in the right thinking mode. thanks!


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