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Rosh Hashana Prayers: Malchuyot

God is judging each detail of creation.   The fact that He is judging them means that He cares about them and what they do.  God is not simply a monarch sitting distant and disconnected from his subjects.  God, as King, is intimately involved with all of His creation.

שמות פרק טו פסוק יח

ידוד ימלך לעלם ועד:
”Hashem shall rule for all eternity.”

This pasuk is part of the Shirah sung by the Jews after crossing the Yam Suf.  The מכילתא says that, “The simple handmaiden saw more at the crossing of the sea, than did יחזקאל and the other prophets.”  Although some of the most powerful praises of God that we have in our davening are from the songs of the highest angels praising Hashem, they do not equal the power of what was seen and sung by the simplest person crossing the Yam Suf.  It was at the Yam Suf that human beings witnessed the most awesome power of God.  It was there and then that we were fully aware of what Hashem would do for us.  Each and every little detail was taken care of.  There was water to drink.  There was food to eat for both human and animal.  The floor was decorated with the most beautiful mosaics.  It was at the Yam Suf that we understood how Hashem had singled out the Jewish people for His love and devotion.  The creator of the world was focused on us as a people.  He was attentive to the details of each person.  His involvement was awesome.  The details almost impossible for a human being to detail.  It was at that point that we understood how infinite was God’s control and attention.  It was that sense of eternity that inspired every person there to sing “Hashem will rule for all eternity.”

That same level of insight can be ours on Rosh Hashanah.  The same level of infinite attention to all the details to creation  is shown in God’s judgment of, and attention to each and every detail of creation.  In order to do so, God must be and is infinite.  We can join with those who sang at the sea, and reach a level even higher than the most powerful praises of the angels.

2)  במדבר פרק כג פסוק כא

לא הביט און ביעקב ולא ראה עמל בישראל ידוד אלהיו עמו ותרועת מלך בו:
“He looks at no iniquity in Jacob, and sees no evil schemes in Israel; Hashem his God is with him, and the affection of the King is in him.”

When the pasuk speaks of Hashem’s affection is refers to the highest level of friendship, רעות, which the Rambam describes as one who cares about the direction that his friend is taking in life.  This friend is willing to voice constructive criticism and push the other in the direction he needs to go.  Hashem is this type of friend to us, the deepest and most powerful bond.  Even as we are declaring God as King, we speek of His being our friend, Who loves us deeply and pushes us to grow and develop.

3)דברים פרק לג פסוק ה

ויהי בישרון מלך בהתאסף ראשי עם יחד שבטי ישראל:
“And He became King in Jeshurun when the leaders of the people assembled, the tribes of Israel together.”

There is a certain clarity that comes when the Jewish people are united in their praises and understanding of God.  They are able to see that all that Hashem does is with understanding of the entirety of the person, the people and the world.  On Rosh Hashanah we stand in such unity.  We are able to see more clearly than any other time of the year that all that Hashem has done over the past year and will do over the coming year is with attention to what we need.  It is all good.  Both the idea of unity and understanding the fairness of all that Hashem does, can be seen in two of the commentaries to this verse:

The Ramban explains, “The King alludes to God who is described as the King of Israel in their upright state.  This pasuk implies that Israel will say that Hashem was King of Israel when our heads, elders and judges and all the tribes of Israel were gathered, that all of us together accepted His kingdom over us, for all time.”  When we were all together we accepted Hashem as King.  Achdus, or unity, is essential to our acceptance of Hashem as our King.  That is why, says the Bais Halevi, we accepted the Torah by saying, “נעשה ונשמע” in the plural form, not the singular.  We must accept Hashem in unity.  Rosh Hashanah, when we all stand together in front of Hashem in judgment, is the most opportune time for us to declare in unity that Hashem is our King.

The Kli Yakar has another reading of this verse.  He explains that it refers to Moshe and to Hashem.  In the final moments of Moshe’s life and leadership the paople declared that he had been a righteous and just leader.  The same people declared, after having tested God so many times, that Hashem is just and fair. 

It is equally important for us. who stand at the end of a year, perhaps a difficult year filled with challenges and pain, to declare that Haswhem is just, all that He does is good.  We declare this belief over the past and for the future;  at this time, when we are being judged, and our future is being determined, we know trhat whatever He will do will be fair and exactly what is necessary for us.

4) תהלים פרק כב פסוק כט

כי לידוד המלוכה ומשל בגוים:
“For sovereignty is Hashem’s and He rules over nations.”

This verse is from the chapter of Psalms that is understood to be the story of Esther.  Esther was the beginning of a new era in Jewish history.  We would no longer see God in miracles equal to those iof the preceeding generations.  The Hand of God was hidden.  We would have to choose to see His Hand in the world.  God’s name is not mentioned in the Book of Esther.  He was hidden.  Yet, Esther saw His hand in all that had happened and understood that it was up to Hashem whether she would be able to save the Jewish people or not.  She taught all generations to see God’s Hand even when it is hidden. 

When we recite this verse we are declaring our belief that even when we cannot see Hashem’s involvement in the world and our lives in an open way, we will look.  We understand that to stand in judgment even when we can’t see the judge or evn know the verdict we must follow Esther’s example.

Rav Yechezkel of Kozmir has an additional understanding of this verse. Earlier in the psalm Esther asks, “קלי קלי למה עזבתני” why have You abandoned me?  And she answers, “רחוק מישועתי דברי שאגתי”, “My cries are distant from my salvation.”  Esther originally for far less than what she really needed.  Such prayers go unanswered.  God rules over nations.  It is important to be aware of how important are requests must be.  It is at this point of Malchuyot that we must remind ourselves that although God is interested in every detail of our lives, and all oiur needs, we must not forget that we are addressing the Ruler of nations.  Our requests of God should reflect that awareness.  We must ask primarily for that which is most important for us, and our success in fulfilling our purpose in creation.

5)תהלים פרק צג פסוק א

ידוד מלך גאות לבש לבש ידוד עז התאזר אף תכון תבל בל תמוט:
“Hashem will have ruled, He will have dressed in granduer; He will have donned might and girded Himself; even firmed the world that it should not falter.”

Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch explains that at this point of Tehillim Hashem is no longer simply “The One on High,” now His majesty is acknowledged even here below, in the midst of mankind.  Hashem has girded Himself, since He cannot be seen, many have failed to recognize Him.  But now, through the events of history, He has so effectively demonstrated His wishes and His providence that He has been recognized by all men for all time to come.

It is this level of awareness that we strive on Rosh Hashanah.  As we stand in judgment before Him and acknowledge that He is in control of all beings and all that happens, we are saying that we see Him as clearly as if fully dressed for all to see.

The Sefas Emes, Pesach, 5654, explains that how much God is “dressed”, visible to mankind is dependent on our choice of how much we desire to accept Him as king.
The implications of this thought as we daven on Rosh Hashanah are strong and obvious.  When we are in the midst of Malchuyot, declaring that God is King, how much God will “dress Himself,” show Himself to us is dependent on how honest are our declarations, and how intense our desire to “see” Him.

6) תהלים פרק כד

(ז)  שאו שערים ראשיכם והנשאו פתחי עולם ויבוא מלך הכבוד:
(ח)  מי זה מלך הכבוד ידוד עזוז וגבור ידוד גבור מלחמה:
(ט)  שאו שערים ראשיכם ושאו פתחי עולם ויבא מלך הכבוד:
(י)  מי הוא זה מלך הכבוד ידוד צבאות הוא מלך הכבוד סלה:

“Raise up your heads, O gates, and be uplifted, you everlasting entrances, so that the King of Glory may enter.  Who is this King of Glory? Hashem, the mighty and atrong, Hashem the strong in battle.  Raise up your heads, O gates, and raise up, you everlasting entrances, so that the King of Glory may enter.  Who then is the King of Glory?  Hashem, Master of Legions, He is the King of Glory, Selah!”

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik expained these verses in his Teshuvah lecture 1975.  He pointed out that we find conflicting emotions and messages on Rosh Hashanah.  There is the terror of judgment, standing before God, being shocked awake by the sound of the shofar from our spiritual complacency, we witness our illusions of life being relentlessly shattered.  Yet, we also find joy.  We experience the joy of the coronation of the king.  In Nechemiah 8:10 the people are enjoined to “Eat the fat and drink the sweet, and send portionsunto them for whom nothing is prepared…for this day is holy unto your Lord..for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  The verses above allude to this pardox;  At first the verse says “ lifted up.”  The gates are passive.  God’s dominion is foisted upon man against his will.  Hashem rules over the earth whether or not we accept Him as our Ruler.  the doors are passive, yielding to an omnipotent God whose sheer power subjugates all.  Such a king is distant from His subjects;  the appropriate emotion is dread.  However, in the concluding verse of the Psalm there is a change in tone.  “Lift up your heads. O gate, lift them up…”  Here the gates open of their own volition.  Hashem rules with man’s consent.  The gates are opened by man who welcomes His entry.  Here the theme is not dread and terror, but joy.

We may begin Rosh Hashanah with dread.  However, as we recite Malchuyot, and we on our own, not forced “open the gates”, we coronate the King with love, our mood changes to joy.

7)ישעיהו פרק מד פסוק ו

כה אמר ידוד מלך ישראל וגאלו ידוד צבאות אני ראשון ואני אחרון ומבלעדי אין אלהים:
“So said Hashem, the King of Israel and its Redeemer; Hashem of the Legions: I am first and I am the last and aside from Me there is no other god.”

Rosh Hashanah is the anniversary of the creation of the world.  On that day Hashem was clearly the King of the entire universe.  All that existed accepted Him as King.  As the world grew people no longer accepted God as their King.  There were other rulers of the world.  Conqerors of the world, who for a short time called themselves King of the World.  However, at the end of history, God alone will be king.  All will recognize Him as such, just as when the world was first created.  On Rosh Hashanah, we should all accept God as the King of the universe.  This is based on the Yalkut Shimoni, Melachim chapter 1, #211, which speaks of ten who ruled the world.  But God says, “I was first, and I will be the last.”
8)עובדיה פרק א פסוק כא

ועלו מושעים בהר ציון לשפט את הר עשו והיתה לידוד המלוכה:
” The saviors will ascend Mount Zion to judge Eisav’s mountain and the kingdom will be Hashem’s”

When Yaacov confronted Eisav after a 34 year absence, Eisav offered to travel together with Yaacov.  Sensing the dangers of travelling with his older brother, Yaacov said no, and that he would meet his brother in Seir.  However, there is no mention in the Torah of Yaacov ever going to Seir to meet Eisav.  The  above verse is when the two will meet in the time of the Messiah.  Only when Yaacov’s children will be willing to confront Eisav directly and judge them for what they are, will we be able to meet and destroy Eisav.  When Moshiach comes we will have the confidence and power to confront them and deal with them as we should.  In fact, the Midrash says that when Yaacov said that he would not travel together with Eisav, he was in fact surrendering עולם הזה to his brother.  Yaacov lost the opportunity to claim both this world and עולם הבא for the Jewish people, and therefore for God. (See the ילקוט שמעוני עבדיה פרק א סימן תקמט)

As we recite Malchuyot we are reclaiming this world for ourselves so that we can in turn claim it for Hashem.

9) זכריה פרק יד פסוק ט

והיה ידוד למלך על כל הארץ ביום ההוא יהיה ידוד אחד ושמו אחד:
“Then Hashem will be One and His name will be One.”

We refer to God as Hashem which means “The Name” because the only way that we know Hashem is through our perceptions of Him, for which we have numerous names.  We refer to Him as Elokim when we speak of Him as Judge.  Tziva’ot as the Master of all that exists.  We have perceptions of Him, and only perceptions, because we with infinite minds could not possibly understand Him as He is.  At this time His name is not one, unified, but is broken into parts, those perceptions we have of Him.

We speak in this verse of a time when our names for Him will be unified.  As the Gemara says in Berachot, there will come a time when we no longer perceive His chesed when good happens, and His judgment when “bad” happens.  We will understand all things that happen as coming from the One Source of all.

When we stand before Him on Rosh Hashanah in unity with all creation we can speak of that time when His name will truly be One.

10) דברים פרק ו פסוק ד

שמע ישראל ידוד אלהינו ידוד אחד:
“Hear Israel, God is our Lord, God is One.”

Rashi reads this verse as, “…God Who is our Lord will be called to by all the nations of the world, and on that day He will be the One Master.”  After we have recited all the above verses we can speak of that day when all the nations of the world will call upon the One Who is now judging all, as the One Master of the world.”

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