Rosh Hashana Prayers: First Blessing of Shema – Night One
Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, Who by His word brings on evenings with wisdom, opens gates with understanding, alters periods, changes the seasons, and orders the stars in their heavenly constellations as He wills. (Translation slightly differs from usual, and is based on the Ari HaKodesh’s text.)
“And it was evening, and it was morning, Day of One.” The verse does not say, “And it was night and it was day,” because there never is a point at which the entire world is in night or in day. The verse is focused on change; when the day turns into night, the evening, and when night changes into light, the morning. The verse is reminding us that this is a world of constant change and movement.
We view change as opportunity, which is why the times we pray is based on change: Morning, afternoon, and evening.
Change is also how we are able to do Teshuva, return to God and change the effects of our mistakes.
The first blessing of Shema is a celebration of change, as being entirely in God’s control, “as He wills.” We rejoice over the gift of change, which allows us to do Teshuva, and reminds us how we can change, not only ourselves, but the entire Creation.
Kavanah: I acknowledge the gift of change and will use it to change myself, and declare my intention to use Rosh Hashana to proclaim Your Absolute Rule and repair all of Your Creation.