Blessings for Rosh HaShanah 5783


by Meir Sendor


In the Mahzor for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur we pray to HaShem that all God’s creatures “become together a single bond to do Your Will with a full heart.”

In his commentary on parashat Nitzavim, read yesterday on Shabbat, on the verse “You are standing today, all of you together before HaShem your God..,” Rabbi Hayyim Ibn Attar notes that the last Covenant established between God and Israel, on the Plains of Moav, as Israel is about to enter the Land of Israel, created a single bond among all people of Israel, for all generations, to be responsible, each one of us for everyone one of us:

The intent of Moshe in this Covenant [on the Plains of Moav] is to bring Israel to mutual responsibility for each other, that every person will exert themselves on behalf of his or her friend not to transgress the Word of God, and that everyone be accountable for each other… that every person be responsible for his brother as much as he is able. Now we can understand the phrase “you are all standing,” connoting appointment, and saying “all of you” meaning everyone has upon them the yoke of each, as it says in the tractate Shabbat (54b) “whoever has the ability to give constructive criticism to the world is accountable for the whole world,… whoever has the ability to give constructive criticism to the people of their city is accountable for them, and whoever has the ability to give constructive criticism to the members of their household is accountable for them.(Or HaHayyim, 29:9).

Many commentators have wondered about the endurance of Israel, through millennia of existential challenges. Among the secrets of our longevity is this principle of responsibility, fulfilled in giving and receiving constructive criticism with good-hearted honesty. This covenant and culture of mutual feedback, unique among nations, helps us all correct course when necessary. In truth, Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are part of this process, God’s constructive criticism that we take to heart, to make the adjustments we need to make in our lives together.

In these challenging times, as we are standing today, all of us before HaShem on the eve of Rosh HaShanah, together with all of Israel, and together with all humanity of good will, may we join together in “a single bond,” to work together responsibly towards fulfilling God’s Will with a full heart, for a New Year and a universal future blessed with peace, compassion and enlightenment.


2 thoughts on “Blessings for Rosh HaShanah 5783

  1. Barbara Holtz

    My greetings for a sweet year .. blessings to you & wishes for good health, productive writings & classes … and gratitude for including me in your community. May we meet soon ( in person, or via Zoom)! B

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