Rosh Hashana: Amida: Kavanot First Day
And so, too, O God, our Lord, instill Your awe upon all Your works, and Your dread upon all You have created. Let all works revere You and all creatures prostrate themselves before You.
Let them all become a single society, to do Your will wholeheartedly. For as we know, God, our Lord, that the dominion is Yours, might is in Your hand and strength is in Your right hand, and Your Name inspires awe over all that You have created.
The Abudirham explains that the phrase, “And so…” is based on Esther’s saying. “And so I will come before the king.” Esther knew that she was loved by the king more than all the other woman of the kingdom, and that he would summon her in the near future. However, she was unwilling to wait for him; she wanted to go immediately after her preparations. But as opposed to the first time that she went into the king after a year’s preparation with perfumes and beauty tips, this time she would go into the king after three days of fasting, when she would not be at her best. She was willing to risk everything to approach the king. So too, we, on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are not willing to wait for God. We will risk everything and go directly to Him although we are certainly less than well-prepared.
First Approach (Rashi)
Pachad refers to the heart pounding astonishment and worry (where and how will I fit in?) felt by those immediately close to a revelation of God’s Presence. Eimah refers to the fear caused by the unknown, something beyond my immediate comprehension when things no longer make sense to my way of thinking. Yirah is the awe that comes with the clarity of seeing God as much as a human being can comprehend.
Pachad – Your works: Works come from the lowest form of Creation; Assiyah. They can only experience something that is immediately before them. The most they can feel is Pachad. We ask that there be a revelation of God that will be clear enough for the lowest form of creation which will then add to the Presence of God in the world, which, in turn, will affect us. We are not asking God to make us experience fear; “Everything is in the hands of Heaven except for the Fear of Heaven.” We are declaring ourselves prepared to respond to revelation with fear. We will not ignore what God will manifest.
Eimah- Creations: The revelation of Your Presence should be in such a way that we sense something beyond us which will make us reach/search for the unknown. Creation here means the act of creation; something from nothing. We are declaring ourselves prepared to respond to God’s revelations beyond the obvious and to search for the unknown. At this moment in the prayer, one must reflect on experiences and studies of the previous year when they felt something intangible, ethereal and pray for the understanding to comprehend similar messages that God will send over the coming year.
Works –Yirah: Even the lowest forms of creations; those who live only on the most immediate level, will see every detail of the world with clarity and be filled with awe. “I request the clarity to see You in everything.”
Creations-Bow: Those with the ability to relate to the abstract will put their insights into action, they will bow with humility. “I will put all my insights into action. I will serve You with humility.”
All will become a single society: “Only when all the Jews are joined can the King be revealed.” “I commit myself to join with all other Jews with love, without hatred and jealousy, so that You can reveal Yourself as King.”
Do Your will wholeheartedly: “Reveal Your Unity and I will respond with unity; total commitment.”
Dominion is Yours: Refers to “HaGadol” what You reveal through nature. “I will acknowledge that all that I see in nature is Yours.”
Might is in Your Hand: Refers to “HaGibor” what You reveal through the miraculous. “I will acknowledge and respond to Your miracles”
Strength is in Your right Hand: Refers to “HaNorah” that which is beyond human comprehension. “I will live with the awareness that reality is beyond anything I can see.”
Your Name inspires Yirah over all You have created: All beings with souls (created) have the clarity of God as part of their essence but their desires and evil inclination conceal that clarity. “I will respond to what You reveal this day by seeing what I know in the most hidden parts of me, to be true.
And so, too, God, grant honor to Your people, praise to those who revere You, good hope to those who seek You, and eloquent speech to those who hope to You; gladness to Your land, and joy to Your city; flourishing pride to David, Your servant, and preparations of a lamp for the son of Jesse, Your anointed – speedily, in our days.
Honor to Your people: May all see that we are Your people, special to you. “I will act in a way that reflects the honor You have given the Jews.”
Praise to those who revere You: “At that time all the idol worshippers will praise the Jews and say; ‘See the praise of this nation that attached to the Holy One, Blessed is He, no matter what happened to them. They never abandoned Him. They were always aware of His Goodness and Praise.’” “I will attach to You and will always be aware of Your Goodness no matter what happens to me.”
Good hope to those who seek You: “And she went to seek the Lord.” Rebecca went to the prophet with the hope that she would receive a clear answer. We request that God reveal Himself this year so that we will have hope that all our questions will be answered. “I will search with hope for answers to all that troubles me.” “You are to know this day, and answer the questions of your heart, that God is the only Lord – in heaven above and on the earth below – there is none other.”
Eloquent speech to those who hope to You: Those who have waited for Moshiach will be able to open their mouths with the pride of justification. “I will wait for the Moshiach so that I can speak with clarity so that all can understand that this world can be unified in Your Name.”
Gladness to Your land: Simcha is laughter over something good that was totally unexpected and impossible happening to me. This laughter is one of the sounds of the Shofar! Your land is the place where the child arrives after being born. The place where he will live his life and earn his World to Come. We are praying that the Divine Presence fill the Land of Israel so much more than ever before that the land will laugh with the joy of the unexpected. (We will also include this in our kavanot when we hear the shofar tomorrow.)
Joy to Your city: Sasson is the joy over the greatness that comes with the forgiveness of sins and the restoration of deeper levels of connection with God. Your city is Your capital, a place by which You are identified, and to which You are responsible. “Please restore the greatness of Jerusalem by forgiving our sins, and restoring the deep level of awareness that existed when Your city was standing and reflecting Your Presence.” (Remember; we lived with a much deeper awareness of Hashem and the impact of our choices when Jerusalem was whole.)
Flourishing pride (horn) to David: “After this I was watching in night visions, and behold a fourth beast, exceedingly terrifying, awesome and strong. It had immense iron teeth, and it was devouring and crumbling, and trampling with its feet what remained. It was different from all the beasts that had preceded it, and it had ten horns. As I was contemplating the horns, behold! Another horn, and a mouth speaking haughty words. I watched as thrones were set up, and the One of Ancient days sat. His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like clean wool; His throne was of fiery flames, its wheels blazing fire. A stream of fire was flowing forth from before Him, a thousand thousands were serving Him, and myriad myriads were standing before Him. The judgment was set, and the books were opened. I saw that after this, because of the sound of the haughty words which the horn spoke, I watched until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and consigned to a flame of fire. As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, yet an extension of life was given them until a season and time. I was watching in night visions and behold! With the clouds of heaven, one like a man came; he came up to the One of Ancient Days, and they brought him before Him. He was given dominion, honor and kingship, so that all peoples, nations and languages would serve him; his dominion would be an everlasting dominion that would never pass, and his kingship would never be destroyed.” “We ask that when You judge today, that You will judge all those who oppress us and give over their power to the Moshiach.”
Preparations of a lamp for the son of Jesse: “There I shall cause pride to sprout for David; I have prepared a lamp for My anointed.” The lamp to bring My light to the world. David’s father, Jesse, had no expectations of his son. In fact, he was ashamed of David. Yet, it is David who brings God’s light to the world. David had expectations of himself. He was able to access the lamp that God had prepared for him. We pray that we, the Jewish People, continue to have expectations of ourselves to be able to bring God’s light to the world.
And so, too, the righteous will see and be glad, the upright will exult, and the devout will be mirthful with glad song. Iniquity will close its mouth and all wickedness will evaporate like smoke, when You will remove evil’s domination from the earth.
Ramchal explains that unlike the rest of the year when we first must pray for the destruction of evil before we pray for the righteous, on Rosh Hashanah, because it is a beginning, before evil has asserted its power, we can pray for the righteous first.
Raising of the Good:
Rashi holds that the Yashar is on a higher level than the Tzaddik.
Tzaddikim – See and have Simcha: The Tzaddik emanates life, Simcha, hope and light. He is able through his being a source of life to bring atonement and knows how to appease the Creator. For example, because he is willing to overlook anything improper done to him, he is able to approach the Creator and ask that He too overlook any insult. In fact, he is so successful in bringing atonement that the Temple in Jerusalem is called his home. The Tzaddik is greater than the angels. The Tzaddik is a source of life. When he will have clarity, Yirah, that will come with this beginning of life, Rosh Hashanah, he will be filled with the laughter of Simcha, unexpected possibilities of life. The potential of life at the beginning is unlimited, reflecting the essence of the Tzaddik. The sound of the Shofar is the sound of his laughter. We want to laugh with him.
Yesharim – Exult: The Yashar is the person who, through his attachment to the Mitzvot, has developed a sensitivity to intuit God’s Will in situations that are not spelled out in black and white in the Torah or Halachah. He will be filled with Alizah, a contagious joy that will infect all around him to experience in their relationship with God.
Chassidim- mirthful with glad song: The Chassidim here refers to Ba’alei Teshuva. They will burst out in song with their mouths and hearts. Even after they sing they will still have song in their hearts that they were unable to express with their mouths. The Shofar is the expression of that unexpressed joy. (Please note: On the day that we do not blow the Shofar, it is important to focus on these different kavanot regarding the Shofar.) The Chassidim are able to reach a level of joy that is so powerful that they receive a level Ruach HaKodesh that they are able to sing ever greater levels of praise. We pray that we too are able to praise You with such joy that we receive new insights into Your praise. The Shofar becomes an instrument to which we dance.
Destruction of Evil:
Iniquity – Close its mouth (see reading from Daniel 7 above) “Thus there is hope for the poor, and iniquity shuts its mouth.” The first attack of evil was with its mouth; when the snake opened a conversation with Eve. We pray that evil will be cut off at its source.
Wickedness – Will evaporate like smoke: “Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the earth below – for the heavens will evaporate like smoke, and the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants will die, as well; but My salvation will be forever and My righteousness will not be broken.” All of this existence is a façade of reality. We pray that the façade will evaporate so that we can experience God’s salvation and witness His righteousness.
Evil’s domination – You will remove from the Earth: “Behold, I am against you, O wicked one, the word of my Master, the Lord of Legions, for your day has arrived, the time for Me to punish you. The wicked one will stumble and fall, and there will be no one to lift it up. And I will set fire to its cities, and it will consume all its surroundings.” “The wickedness of your heart has misled you, who dwells in the clefts of the rocks in his lofty abode, who says in his heart, “Who can bring me down to earth?’”
See Zohar, III that compares our process on Rosh Hashanah to Jacob going into Issac wearing the “clothes of sin” of Esau.
Rabbi Yisrael Salanter said that we must be more careful on this Day of Judgement to be completely committed to our words.
Rashi; Genesis 17:17; describing Abraham’s laughter when he heard that he would be having a child at age 100.
Rashi: God will set up two thrones, one of strict justice and the other of mercy. God will judge Rome/Edom when the Messianic era arrives.
Yalkut Shimoni, Daniel, chapter 7, #1064: The horn of power will be given to Moshiach and the righteous and they will sit with God and judge the angels representing the nations that oppressed the Jews throughout history.
TB Taanit 15a. The Rashba ibid disagrees as does Rabbeinu Bachya in the Kad KaKemach; “Ner Chanukah.”
Rabbi Yehuda ben Yakar (The rebbi of the Ramban) Commentary on the Siddur; Blessing of Al Hatzaddikim
This is based on TB Succah 52b that describes the dance of the Chassidim at the Simchat Beit HaShoeiva. The Gemara implies that the praises sung by the Chassidim increase as they sing and dance.
Obadiah 1:3. This is a prophecy against Edom. Obadiah was born an Edomite, converted and eventually became a prophet. His prophecy is all the more powerful because it is an expression of someone from Edom itself.
This is the acronym for the Vilna Gaon. He differs from Rashi on the definitions of many of the terms in these prayers.
Job 31:23. Rashi explains that Job had such clarity of reward and punishment, as if it were right in front of him, despite the injustice of his suffering, that he was filled with Yiras Haromimus, awe of God’s exaltedness. See Ralbag and Metzudas David who agree with Rashi.
Gra; Habakkuk 1:7 based on Mechilta on the Song of the Sea. He must have had a different text than we do. He may have based this on an original reading of a Sifra; Bechukotai, Chapter 7.
Gra; Genesis 1:1; This is his explanation of the blessings; “Borei pri ha’adama, ha’eitz, minei mezonot.” All these blessings refer to what exists not the action of creation.