Why Doesn’t Yom Kippur Predate Rosh Hashanah? by Rabbi Jonathan Sigal

shofar siddur

Concerning the Yomim Noraim there is a strong and obvious question hidden in plain sight, as follows: Would it not make a lot more sense to make Yom Kippur our day of Atonement before Rosh Hashana the Day of Judgement and not afterward as we do? This way we could amend all of our wrongdoings with Viduy and teshuva combined with the Cleansing power of that special day and then come into Rosh Hashana all clean and fixed and then Merit a decisively good Judgement for life?


Now of course it is the Torah that has divinely decreed this order and the days are also intrinsically linked to historical events: specifically Rosh Hashana was the day of creation of Man (and so he is re-evaluated and Judged in terms of is he living up to the very purpose to that he was created for) and Yom Kippur was the day Moses came down from Sinai with the Second Tablets that was proof positive that the Jewish Nation was forgiven for the Sin of Making the Golden Calf hence was established as a day of Atonement for generations. However, the question still remains why was it Divinely orchestrated that Yom Kippur the Day of Atonement follow Rosh Hashana the Day of Judgement and not vice versa? The Key to understanding the solution to this dilemma is to analyze the manner that we pray and serve Hashem on the Day of Rosh Hashana.


We do not repent at all or show any signs of sorrow for our past misdeeds, nor do we ask for any personal needs (even though we do hint to them with the Simonim, our food signs like the apple in the honey etc.). Everything we do on Rosh Hashana, the blowing of the Shofar and the theme of our prayers is to stress and prove one point, That Hashem is our King and we are subjects in his Kingdom. The experience of Rosh Hashana allows us not only intellectually understand that Hashem is our King but to internalize and feel this truth in every fiber of our being. Actually, that is the power of the Shofar it Symbolizes the cry of the Soul and as we hear that cry it resonates with our collective and individual souls and reminds of us our true mission in this world as subjects in Hashems Kingdom, this is how it actually wakens us up and inaugurates Hashem as our King. It is that “Kol Demma daka” that very thin voice barely perceived because during the rest of the year when we confused with Business as usual, we can barely hear it because it drowned out by the noise of the mundane world, but on Rosh Hashana we able to focus on it and hear its message. We can delete everything in our lives that is not related to that voices message clearly understand that anything that has nothing to do with the Kingdom of Hashem is not really of importance to our life’s mission. During the rest of the year we have allowed ourselves to be Subject to the Evil Inclination and his Kingdom. On Rosh Hashana, we take note of how far we have wandered and liberate ourselves and establish ourselves in the Kingdom of Hashem. (This is why Joseph was liberated from the prison for interpreting the dreams of Pharaoh on Rosh Hashana).


Once someone asked a Master of Sculptures how he does it? He said it is very easy I take a block of Granit and if I want to Sculpture an Elephant, for example, I just cut away everything that is not Elephant!) So too the Shofar blow and prayers of Rosh Hashana help us chisel away from our lives anything in our lives that is not in/under Hashem’s Kingdoms domain. With this we can answer our original question. All year round as we have lived under the influence of the evil inclination, we have built up a building of Nonsense and Sin. This must be dismantled. There are two basic ways to raze a building: either to knock it at its foundation and the building will fall or to take it apart brick by brick. On Rosh Hashana we are destroying the building at its foundations which are the cause of our mistakes and sins is because fundamentally we had wandered out of Hashem’s Kingdom and allowed our Evil Inclination to rule us. As a result, our Judgement was clouded and we made wrong decisions and failed. On Yom Kippur, we take our building apart brick by brick and analyze every nook and cranny piece by piece and see how we can improve every detail of our being.


It is impossible to analyze every aspect of our being correct if our Judgement is clouded. If we exist in the Kingdom of the Evil inclination and our conditioned by his influence how can we truly honestly analyze and fine-tune every aspect of our being? That would not be possible unless we first move out of the Kingdom of Evil and enter the Kingdome of Hashem. Only after we have reconnected with clarity to our true mission in life as subjects to Hashems World and his mission can we honestly reconstruct ourselves on Yom Kippur.


Rabbi Jonathan Sigal Grew up in Atlanta, GA and attended Yeshiva Highschool there. He later attended Yeshiva Ohr Sameach (Rabbi Ahron Feldman Shalita), Yeshivas Ofikim (Rabbi Chaim Kamil zt“l) , Yeshivas Heichal Hatorah (Rav Tzvi Kushlevski Shalita) Learned in various Kollelim he followed his Rabbi Yaakov Schatz Shalit”a to Amsterdam who served as Rosh Kollel there. Rabbi Sigal Served Two years as Rosh Kollel after his Rebbe returned to Israel. He currently studies Jewish law in the Amsterdam Kollel, does communal work teaching Torah, doing kiruv work, working for the Shachita, assisting the Jewish Burial Society. Rabbi Sigal can be contacted at sigaljj@hotmail.com

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