Monday, September 14, 2009

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Why King?

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

Question:

On Rosh Hashanah, we crown G-d as our King. All year long He is called “our G-d” and now we are saying that He is “our King.” But the Name “G-d” is much greater than the Name “King.” So why make such a big thing out of calling Him “King”? Isn’t this a step down for Him?

Answer:

Each Holiday comes to emphasize a certain aspect of Jewish life. All year long Hashem is G-d. This does not change. But on Rosh Hashanah we stress our role as His servants. This is best done by acting out the analogy of G-d being a King. We inaugurate Him to be our King, and we happily agree to be His faithful servants. This does not change G-d at all. It merely addresses our service to G-d. Our service to Hashem does not affect Him in the least. It only affects us. When we call Him “King,” He has not changed into a king. What changes is the way we think about Him. When we conceive of G-d simply as G-d, we do not learn anything about serving Him. If the Name “G-d” were His only Name, we might think that our only service was to worship Him as the Creator. But G-d wants more than just that from us. He wants us to obey His every command. So we call Him our King and we act as His loyal servants.

Pesach is different. We do not stress G-d’s Kingship on Pesach. All year long we call out to and listen to Hashem. Doing this brings us out of bondage. This bondage is our slavish attachment to the material world. On Pesach we stress that G-d takes us out of slavery when we follow His word. We emphasize this process by recalling our first Exodus from slavery, the Egyptian slavery thousands of years ago. This is the purpose of the Pesach Seder.

On Rosh Hashanah we crown G-d as our King. When we do this, we naturally think how a subject of a king behaves, and we act accordingly. We also stress the King’s role as a Judge so that we act as one who stands before a judge, and we examine our every deed to be sure that we have not transgressed even a minor decree.

When we call Hashem “our Father,” we can imagine running up to Him and kissing Him on His cheek. When we consider Him to be “our King,” we would never think of doing such a thing. When we call Hashem “G-d,” we conceive of Him as the Omnipresent Being Who fills and surrounds all. All of these attitudes are proper services to Hashem. Each has its time and place, and we are to serve G-d in all these ways.

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