Crowning God and Defeating Sin on Rosh Hashanah

September 3, 2021 | Joseph B. Soloveitchik
About the author:

While everyone knows that Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish new year, the main themes of the day’s elaborate liturgy are divine judgment and divine kingship. In a sermon on the day’s significance, the great 20th-century sage Joseph B. Soloveitchik focuses on the latter, especially the image of the Jewish people crowning the Ribono shel Olam, the Master of the Universe, as their King. He then proceeds to connect divine kingship to Amalek, the archetypal enemy of Israel who attacked the Israelites as they were leaving Egypt, as described in Exodus 17:8-16. Next Soloveitchik quotes the Zohar, the central text of Jewish mysticism, which refers to Amalek as toldin d’tohu—the offspring of formlessness, using the same word that describes the primordial chaos of Genesis 1:2: “And the earth was without form (tohu) and void (va-vahu).” He weaves the texts together in a remarkable fashion. (Yiddish with English subtitles. Video, 6 minutes.)

Read more on Ohr Publishing: