Let My People Know

"We have the privileges of children"


Our real privilege is that we are both sons and servants.

We are permitted to "stray" a little from God, an idea woven into the Rosh Hashanah prayers. 

When the observant Jew and the individual who is satisfied simply to pray on Rosh Hashanah stand in judgment before the King of Kings, they are both in the same situation and share the same degree of anxiety. 

Both are before God and say to Him: "Be my King." 

What did they do to deserve it?

Rabbi Aaron of Karlin was preparing for the morning service on Rosh Hashanah, which begins with the words, "0 King." 

When he spoke these words, Rabbi Aaron fainted.

When he regained consciousness, his followers asked him, "Why did you faint?" 

Rabbi Aaron replied, "Just as I was saying '0 King,' I remembered an anecdote. 

A rabbi came to Vespasian before the latter was made Emperor and greeted him with '0 Emperor!' 

To this Vespasian said, 'If you knew that I am the Emperor, why did you not come to see me sooner?"

The Emperor's question provides a good clue as to why these ten days are called the "Days of Awe."

What could cause you to feel more riddled with anxiety than to hear your king ask:
"Where have you been all this time? 

Where were you?

Why didn't you come to see me sooner?"

This is how we feel as servants. 

As sons, however, we have the privileges of children. 

Regardless of what children do, even if they leave home for the whole year, they are still children. 

This is our only excuse. 

For in our position as servants, what could we say for ourselves on Rosh Hashanah?

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

From The Seven Lights, p. 23, by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz