Rosh Hashanah Message: The Voice
By Mordechai Plotsker
Within the Musaf Rosh Hashanah Tefillah, we find the following seemingly innocuous statement: Ki Ata Shomea Kol Shofar, Uma'azin Teruah, V'ein Domeh Lach. Baruch ata Hashem Shomea Kol Teru'ous Amo Yisroel, Berachamim - For You hear the sound of the Shofar and You give ear to the Teruah, and none is comparable to You. Blessed are You, Hashem, Who hears the shofar-sound of His people Israel with mercy. In Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, Hilchos Shofros, Siman 592:1, The Pri Migadim cites Rav Chaim HaCohen Rapaport, Rav of L’vov (Lemberg), who put an extraordinary gloss and fascinating explanation to this awe-inspiring prayer.
Ki Ata Shomea Kol Shofar. Similar to the straight and consistent sound of the Tekiah shofar blast, Hashem is shome’ah, meaning, Hashem hears the consistent and righteous sounds of the Tzadik, not just during the month of Elul, but all year long. However, when Rosh Hashanah arrives, Hashem is Ma'azin, He listens intently to the sound of the Teruah (U’maazin Teruah). In other words, Hashem places His ear near the individual, who is a Teruah and representative of an individual who is ‘inconsistent’. Meaning, unlike the Tzadik that is consistently involved in Mitzvos and Ma’asim Tovim, the Teruah form of an individual varies daily in his commitment to these Torah ideals. One day he is fully observant, and the next day, he lacks resolve.
‘V'ein Domeh Lach’. There is none is comparable to You. Would Caesar tolerate a slave that independently decided when it was opportune to serve his Dominus? Would Ivan the Terrible welcome inconsistent service to the Czar’s throne? Never! Mortal kings do not repair, nor do they make use of broken vessels, i.e. Ba'al Teshuvah. Who is like Hashem, asks Rabbi Rapaport, that allows for the return of ‘broken vessels’ or the contributor that is as inconsistent as the Teruah?
Consider that the Yerushalmi, Meseches Makos, 2:6 relates that Prophecy argued that the penalty for committing a sin should be death. Wisdom countered and argued suffering. Torah responded, "He should bring a sacrifice and be forgiven." Hashem then said, "The sinner should repent and he will be pardoned." We see from this exchange that Teshuva was prescribed solely by Hashem, adding extra meaning to "V'ein domeh lach" - "There is none comparable to You."
For this and so much more, we express our thankfulness to Hashem by reciting the following blessing: Baruch ata Hashem, Shomea Kol Teru'os Amo Yisroel, Berachamim.
Be sensitive to the difference between the first statement and the language found within the bracha. Looking closely we observe that the words U’maazin Teruah are replaced by the words Shomea Kol Teru’os. Meaning, now Hashem listens to the sounds, and the responsive words that follow the Teruah shofar blast as though it were a Tekiah, a consistent voice heard during the entire year. The ability for one to be Chozer B’tshuva and be judged with mercy (Midas HaRachamim) and not strict judgment (Midas Hadin), is strictly Divine. Indeed, Hashem has a special love for the Ba'al Teshuvah, i.e. the Teruah, for in the place where the Ba'al Teshuvah stands even tzaddikim gemurim, the greatest of the righteous cannot stand (See Meseches Brachos, 34B). Therefore, when we speak of the teruah the term "Ma'azin" is used, a hint to the Ohzen, ear, a reference to emphasize the closeness of Hashem to the ba'al teshuvah. Accordingly, Dovid Hamelach said, Ashrey Ha’am Yodei Teruah, Hashem Be’or Panecha Yihalaichun - Happy are the people that know the joyful shout; they walk, O LORD, in the light of Thy countenance (Tehillim 89:16), emphasizing the close connection between the Ba’al Teshuva and Hashem, and the hidden meaning of this powerful attribute.
As we approach Rosh Hashanah, we walk into the Synagogue with different modes of pre-occupied thought and comfort; the Tzadik with ease and confidence and the Ba’al Teshuva with difficulty and timidity. We must remember however, that whenever we seek to improve ourselves, however incrementally, we are ALL Ba’aley Teshuva. Accordingly, we have unparalleled access to Hashem’s ear. In this manner, one stands to be rewarded with Hashem hearing the voice of the Teruah - U’maazin Teruah - with the same level of sincerity and interest as the voice of the Tekiah.
The verse concludes with the word Berachamim, with mercy. Meaning, this incredibly unique Divine feature can only be manifest when Hashem moves from the ‘seat of judgment (Din) to the ‘seat of mercy’ (“Berachamim”).
This, my friend, is the ultimate blessing; Should we need to be judged, let it be mercifully, with Rachamim.
May we internalize the sound of the Teruah, and in this merit, may Hashem listen closely to our voice, then hear our words of supplication such that we will ALL be blessed with a K’Siva V’Chasima Tova.