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Rosh Hashana

The Haftara of the first day of Rosh Hashana relates the story of Chana, who was childless and came to the Sanctuary to pray. In the merit of her prayers she was blessed with a son - the prophet Samuel. Eli the High Priest, seeing Chana so immersed in prayer and oblivious to her surroundings, suspected her of being intoxicated - not from wine, but from the very act of praying.

"I am not drunk," Chana explained. "I am pouring out my soul before the L-rd." Through prayer, Chana's soul was uniting with G-d.

On Rosh Hashana we ask G-d to fulfill our needs. Our requests are spiritual and material: We ask Him to bless us with healthy children, long lives, and an abundant livelihood.

Days of Awe

Kings have been in rather short supply in recent generations. Of course, there's still the Queen of England. She has a crown, a throne, a palace etc. Theoretically, she can even dismiss her parliament and start issuing decrees. But we all know that she'll never do that. So all the pomp and ceremony has a false ring to it.

The kings we remember from our childhood story books had majesty. There was lots of pomp and ceremony, but the pomp and ceremony meant something, represented something real. The crown on their head looked like it belonged there.

The essence of Rosh Hashanah, our sages tell us, is that it is the day on which we crown G-d king of the universe.

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