Many have asked: why do these days not come before Rosh HaShana when we stand in judgment before God? Wouldn’t it make sense to do teshuva first and then be judged?
And… Rosh HaShana itself actually marks the beginning of the Ten Days of Repentance. Yet, there are very few specific mentions of teshuva in its unique tefillos or rituals.
The answer is that Rosh HaShana is a time for teshuva… But, it’s of a different sort.
God, said: Recite before Me on Rosh HaShana [the verses of] Malchuyos (Kingship)… so that you will make Me King over you.2
On Rosh HaShana Hashem implores us to Make Him King. But, He asks that we do this exactly as we are at moment, with all of our flaws… confusions… anxieties… anger… dependencies… desires…
Our goal is to be in this very place of imperfection and from here declare that there is a Ribbono Shel Olam Who is directing the whole world and every minute detail of our lives, and there is a purpose to every experience that we have– positive and negative, internal and external.
With the blowing of the shofar, we connect to a wordless cry, a deep inner yearning to break free from that which holds us down and distracts us from that which we know to be true. We are instantly reunited with a surging desire to return to our Source and to reveal the intense, pure Light that shines within us.
At that very moment we personally restore the King of the Kings to His Throne at a time when so many do not know Him.
In the process, we are uplifted to unimaginable heights and Hashem Himself dresses us in the most precious and splendid garments.3
In this high position, all of our flaws cease to exist. At this moment, we are as we are meant to be.
After the Rosh HaShana, we return to our place.
Except… not exactly.
All of our yearning on Rosh HaShana, creates a tiny impression, and from that tiny impression, Hashem makes a wide opening so that the light of teshuva can flow in from Above. It is this Divine Light that strengthens and guides us to teshuva over the coming days.
The Ten Days of Repentance are days of introspection and work. Our goal is to get closer to reaching the heights of Rosh HaShana and merit a good and sweet new year ahead.
1. Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Teshuvah 2:6
2. Rosh HaShano 34b
3. Based on a mashal in the Kedushas Levi, Rosh HaShana