Rosh Hashanah Prayers: Mi Kamocha Av HaRachamim
Av Harachamim does not mean father, because rachamim, what is the shoresh, the root word of rachamim? Rechem, which is the womb. So this is not referring to G-d as a father. Av Harachamim is the One who possesses or more accurately the parent who possesses all compassion. All compassion comes from Hashem and so this is one of the places where despite the fact that we translate things or their place in the male gender, it does not mean father here, it means parent. And it’s important to catch those different places in davening because in the same way that we respond to a father and mother differently, we interact with Hashem differently when we’re focusing on the more male attributes of G-d or the more female attributes of G-d.
And if you look in the Zohar’s description on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur which is so incredible, it’s in the portion of Emor, for those who want to look it up, 98b, in the Zohar. The Zohar explains that if you look at the story when Ya’akov goes into Yitzchak to steal the blessings he does it at the behest of his mother and when Yitzchak summons Eisav it says, go out hunting and bring me something to eat. This is G-d saying to Satan, Yitzchak, the attribute of justice is sitting on the throne of justice and G-d sitting on the throne of justice says to Eisav, who is the accuser, the Satan, go out hunting, bring me the sins of the Jews. Rivka, who is the mother, who nurtures, who cares, who can never break her connection to her children, says to her child, put on the clothes of Eisav, put on the clothes of sin, wear it and go in to your father and say to your father,
And I know that wearing these clothes, the fact that I am covered with sin will bother you and you may very well destroy me, but I want you to know that I am so desperate for a relationship with you I am willing to take the risk.”
And when Hashem sees that our bottom line concern is that we want this connection with Hashem so desperately so then Hashem rises from the throne of justice represented by Yitzchak and goes on to the throne of compassion, represented by Rivka and that’s when the forgiveness of Rosh Hashanah begins.