As we mark the beginning of our New Year, we can’t but notice the difference between our commemoration of the beginning of a New Year, and the way “New Years” is celebrated in secular society. Far from being a time of partying, of revelry, and of celebration, the Jewish New Year – Rosh Hashana finds us in Synagogue, listening to the shofar, and beseeching G-d for a year of life and peace.
Why do we start the year on such a note? Why do we have such a serious beginning to the New Year?
The idea of Hashem judging us on Rosh Hashana is not to “get us”. Hashem is not affected in any way whether we do well or not on Rosh Hashana; the idea of judging us on Rosh Hashana is for our benefit. Just as the President and Congress have to make a budget and decide on allocations for the coming fiscal year, Hashem makes His allocations for all of mankind on Rosh Hashana. On this day He decides what will be allocated to each and every one of us; will we be healthy? We will be financially stable? Will we have calm situations in life? Will Israel, the United States, and the entire world have peace or not? All these decisions will be made on Rosh Hashana, and signed on Yom Kippur.
When we realize this, then we can appreciate the meaning of Rosh Hashana so much more. It’s not just a question of dipping the apple into the honey; we must make very real decisions regarding our commitment to Hashem and His Torah. When we hear the shofar, we must feel a joy of one who has the privilege to personally participate in the coronation of his king. At the same time we have to ask ourselves – “Do I really feel and recognize that Hashem is my King”? If we find that strength to commit ourselves to serving Hashem, to accepting Him as our absolute ruler, then we have succeeded in Judgment. We will certainly be found meritorious on Rosh Hashana.