Is There a Place for Joy on Rosh Hashana?

After the terror attack in our community, Adam’s own Miriam Leichman, decided that the community was in need of words of strength and chizuk, specifically in the area of Bein Adam L’chavero commandments between Jew and their fellow.  She initiated a project in which every day for a month a Dvar Torah would be written by community rabbis and leaders in memory of the terror victim Yotam Ovadia Z”L.  Miriam asked Rav Shalom Miller to contribute weekly to the project.  This a short Torah thought about joy and achdut (fraternity) on Rosh Hashana that he wrote.

Tonight is the shloshim of Yotam Ovadia Z”L.  This Dvar Torah was written L’ilui Nishmato in his memory.

D’var Torah

The Zohar Hakadosh teaches us that every mitzvah should be done with both awe and love/joy.

On Rosh Hashana, the Day of Judgment, we perform the mitzvah of hearing the Shofar, which in part, signifies our sentencing.  Where is there room for love and joy?  It seems that these feelings would be inappropriate when The Holy One Blessed Be He is judging us and the entire world.

In truth, Rosh Hashana is truly a joyous day.  Hashem wants that we not only crown Him as King on this day but that we do it out of joy, as it says in our prayers, “Rejoice in Your Kingship.”  We ask God numerous times throughout the two days to “bring joy to our souls with Your salvation” and this in turn will “bring us the purity of heart to serve God in truth.”

Yes “joy” is found throughout the machzur, but do these verses and prayers have a lasting impact on our ability to be filled with love and joy during Rosh Hashana and specifically at moment when we blow the Shofar?  Where can we look to find the love and joy that we hope for as we hear the Shofar and start the New Year?

We know that one of the names of Rosh Hashana is “Yom Teruah” a day of Shofar Blowing.  The Chassidic Masters explain that the word   תרועהis closely related to the word רעות fraternity.  Rosh Hashana is meant to be a day which brings Am Yisrael, communities and community members together as one.  By standing together in true unity and harmony we experience the love and joy that we seek as we inaugurate the New Year.

When we bless our friends and loved-ones on Rosh Hashana with the words, “Shanna Tova,” may we be blessed to say these words sincerely, lovingly and with a full heart.  In this way we will truly sweeten Rosh Hashana and the entire year.  Amen!