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Tuesday, January 18, 2022 - 16 Shevat 5782
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Depth of the Heart
The forty eight hours of Rosh Hashanah comprise a unique spiritual experience. The special prayers, traditional foods, Shofar sounds and Tashlich ritual create a stirring entrance for the new year.

One of the most moving passages of the High Holiday service is the Haftorah that is read after the Torah reading of the first day of Rosh Hashanah. The first two chapters of the book of Samuel describe the life story of Elkanah and his two wives, Chana and Penina. Penina is a proud mother of ten sons, and mercilessly needles her co-wife, Chana, who is barren.

It was Rosh Hashana, and Elkana took his family to the Tabernacle, as was his wont from year to year. Chana felt that she could no longer bear her sad lot. She stood sobbing in a corner of the Tabernacle, and silently poured out her heart to G-d: “If You will see the pain of your maidservant… and You will give to your maidservant seed of man… I will give him to the L-rd for all my days.”
G-d accepted her heartfelt prayers, and exactly a year later, on Rosh Hashanah, Chana gave birth to a son. “And she called his name Samuel, since he was on loan from G-d.” When he was two, Chana brought him to the Tabernacle to be raised by the High Priest, Eli. In time, Samuel grew up to be a famed prophet.

At first glance, it appears that the story of Chana is retold on Rosh Hashanah because that was when she offered her prayer and when it was fulfilled. However, there is a deeper reason as well.
Chana taught us the power of prayer. Our sages point out that Chana requested not only that G-d perform a miracle and allow her to have a child, but that He should also assure that the child will be a tzadik. In general, G-d does not predetermine who will be a tzadik and who will not, since each person has free will. However, in this case Chana won an exception, and was given a son who grew up to be a tzadik.

Chana’s prayer came from the depth of her heart—“I poured out my soul to G-d.” Her prayers, which burst out of the essence of her soul, penetrated all barriers and brought her the salvation she sought.
This is the important point of Rosh Hashanah: To pray from the depths of our hearts. On this day, each year, we have the opportunity to request of G-d to reign as King over us. G-d awaits our prayers, since a king is not a king unless willingly accepted by the people. If we express this desire with full sincerity, it will surely be accepted, like the prayer of Chana.
This is what is requested of us on Rosh Hashanah: to be sincere. To crown G-d as King, sincerely. To have an honest desire to serve G-d and accept His rulership over us.

With this concept we can also understand what we need to do to bring about the revelation of King Moshiach. Like G-d Himself, Moshiach awaits our acceptance of his kingship upon himself. In the haftorah of Rosh Hashanah, Chana offers praise to G-d for fulfilling her desire, and concludes with the words, “And he lifted the horn of His anointed.” This is a reference to her son, Samuel, who anointed King David, predecessor of Moshiach. Through sincere prayer, we can bring about not only the coronation of G-d but also the revelation of His chosen servant, Moshiach.


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