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Rosh HaShana: Kabbalat Ole Malchut Shamayim / Accepting God’s Kingship

Lesson 21: Sept 19/Elul 28

Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel (1849 – 1927), the famed Alter of Slabodka, was born in a small town in Lithuania and raised in Vilna. At the age of 22, he met Rabbi Simcha Zissel of Kelm and began his life’s work of furthering the Mussar tradition. The Alter of Slabodka’s message stressed the joy and pleasure of divine service and spiritual growth. He developed an entirely new “school” of Mussar based on individuality and honor, which he saw as the essence of the Tzelem Elokim, the “divine likeness” in which God created humanity. He passed away in Israel after establishing a branch of the Slabodka Yeshiva in Hebron, which later moved to Jerusalem where it stands today.
This particular version of the Alter’s talk was published by Rabbis Dov Katz and Meir Chodosh, two foremost students of the Alter of Slabodka, and originally written by Rav Moshe Aaron Ripez, a young student of the Hebron Yeshiva who was murdered among the 24 students and staff members who were killed in the Arab riots of 1929.
Being constantly aware of Malchut Shamayim [God’s Kingship] is not a burden or a heavy tax that God wants to levy on humanity, but rather a plea for reflection upon and awareness of the kindness and goodness which fills every aspect of the entire universe, so that we may rejoice from the knowledge of how fortunate we are and take pleasure from the abundant kindness which surrounds us everywhere. What is it that HaShem, our God, asks from us? Just that we rejoice and take pleasure from His goodness and kindness all of our days, and this pleasure is our service to God; the “tax” we must pay. The awareness of and sensitivity to God’s goodness and kindness in all its depth and breadth — this is the way we repay God’s kindness. [“Ohr HaTzafon /The Hidden Light” “The Reason for Berachot” Volume III, p. 87]
Do you feel the weight of God’s Kingship as a heavy tax or burden? In what way can you appreciate the "Alter" of Slabodka’s reframing of this idea to focus on God’s kindness?
Your practice for this week is to focus on prayer using Psalm 27 as your guide. As you recite L'David today, concentrate with special intensity on the meaning of the following verse and how it applies to you. Allow the words of the Psalm to guide you to an acceptance of God’s sovereignty. Feel free to express your thoughts and feelings in your own words:
Verse 4:
“One [thing] I ask of the Lord, [it is one thing] that I seek — that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to see the pleasantness of the Lord and to visit in God’s sanctuary.”
אַחַ֚ת שָׁאַ֣לְתִּי מֵֽאֵת יְהֹוָה֘ אוֹתָ֪הּ אֲבַ֫קֵּ֥שׁ שִׁבְתִּ֣י בְּבֵֽית יְ֖הֹוָה כָּל־יְמֵ֣י חַיַּ֑י לַֽחֲז֥וֹת בְּנֹֽעַם יְ֜הֹוָ֗ה וּלְבַקֵּ֥ר בְּהֵיכָלֽוֹ.

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Today’s learning is sponsored by Jason Winston, in memory of his grandmother, Irene Winston, who practiced lovingkindness (chesed) every day of her life, and his grandfather, George Winston, who steadfastly taught generosity (nedivut), responsibility (achrayut), and equanimity (menuchat ha'nefesh).

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