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ten commandments

Our sages explain that each of the ten days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is connected to one of the Ten Commandments.

By Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel

The days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are famously known at the “Ten Days of Repentance.” Another famous “ten” are, of course, the “Ten Commandments.” Our sages explain that each of the ten days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is connected to one of the Ten Commandments. Let us see.

It is taught that the first two days, which are the two days of Rosh Hashana, correspond to the first Commandment of “I am the Lord your God” and the second Commandment of “You shall have no other gods besides Me.” We see from here that Rosh Hashana is all about celebrating God, coronating God, and strengthening our faith in God.

Indeed, many people mistakenly believe that Rosh Hashana is a day when we are meant to present God with a “shopping list” – a long list of our needs and wants for the coming year. So, too, many believe that Rosh Hashana is a day of forgiveness. This too is wrong. Although one may indeed be able to find aspects of these ideas in the Rosh Hashana liturgy, they are not the primary themes at all.

Rosh Hashana is little more than a celebration of God. In the ancient world, kings would hold an annual celebration on the anniversary of their coronation as a way of reminding the people who’s in charge. Rosh Hashana is a reminder for us to wake up and realize that there is a King who is in charge. In these ancient celebrations the people would declare and recommit their allegiance to the king, their love for the king, and their loyalty in keeping the king’s laws. Rosh Hashana is the exact same thing.

We must use Rosh Hashana to connect with God and realize that everything that happens down here ultimately comes from Up There. Sure, come before Him with your shopping list, it can’t hurt. But more important, come before Him with a desire to connect to Him and celebrate Him. An approach and attitude like that will certainly help get your “shopping list” filled!

Rosh Hashana