Op-Ed by R. L.
Is your child afraid of the day of judgment? You may be surprised.
We all know that Hashem judges us on Rosh Hashana and decides what kind of year we are going to have. Without Chassidus this can sound scary and people spend their entire Rosh Hashana in fear.
We were gifted to have the Rebbe’s perspective, in which we were taught the true meaning of a king, of judgment and that surely Hashem will give each of us a good and sweet year.
Yet when many of our children hear that Rosh Hashana is the day that Hashem, our king, is deciding our fate for the coming year, the image that comes to mind is one of a powerful king or dictator who is standing over us watching our every move to see whether he should whip out his stick and yank us or send us to the safe zone. Naturally, we want to get on his good side, so we behave our best.
For most living in 2022, we haven’t seen a king in our lifetime. The images of kings we have in our minds are those of the past, many of whom were utterly wicked and cruel.
Teaching children to be on their best behavior throughout Rosh Hashana since it is the day the king is judging them, paints a picture of a mighty king who may not care for the benefit of the child. And for most, it has a negative connotation, that of a powerful king who may use his power against us, if we dared misbehave.
Even though we talk about and live by the ideas that Hashem is good and that Hashem loves us, we may be giving contradicting messages when we don’t properly teach everything through the lense of chassidus.
Messages such as: “Rosh Hashana is a day of judgment. Therefore let us use out the time to say as much tehillim as possible so that we will have a good year”, may accidentally impart messages of fear and anxiety, and gives our children the message that Hashem will only give them a good year if they say their tehillim and behave nicely.
We need to make sure that we are infusing the light of chassidus in every teaching we impart on our children and students. As the Rebbe says: Teaching the pshat without chassidus, simply doesn’t work anymore.
We need to make sure that the metaphor of Hashem as our king on Rosh Hashanah is being taught in accordance with chassidus.
Try this. There is a good, kind king, one who loves his nation and looks out for them and protects them. In his hands, he holds huge barrels of golden coins which he pours generously. The people need vessels with which to fill up all those golden coins. Otherwise they won’t be able to contain all the good that the king is showering upon them.
If their cups are clogged, they will not have space to contain the gold. If they unclog their cups and make space for the gold, their cups will be filled to the top.
Hashem is a good king, one who loves his nation, the yidden, and showers them with blessings and goodness. We need to do the best we can so that our vessel is empty and has space to catch all those blessings.
So do our actions and tehillim have a power and an effect on how our year may turn out? Absolutely. But not because if we don’t behave and say tehillim then Hashem will give us a bad year, chas veshalom. Rather, because we want to make sure that we have the vessels to receive all the blessings that Hashem is surely giving us.
May we all be written and sealed for a year filled with abundant revealed goodness and the coming of moshiach now!