Rosh Hashanah and Parashas Haazinu

The central theme of Rosh Hashanah is expressing our recognition of Hashem as Sovereign, and of His continual monitoring and supervision of the entire universe. A verse in parashas Haazinu reflects the same theme. The Torah states (Devarim 32:39): “See, now, that I, I, am He, and there is no power alongside Me: I put to death and I bring to life, I have struck down and I shall heal, and there is no rescuer from My hand.”
The Maggid ties this verse in with an episode related in the Gemara (Berachos 58a). R. Shila gave someone lashes for immoral conduct, and the offender reported R. Shila to the gentile government. The gentile overlord summoned R. Shila for an explanation, which he gave. While the overlord was considering how to treat the offender, R. Shila recited a verse (Divrei HaYamim Alef 29:11): “Yours, Hashem, is the greatness, the might, and the splendor, the triumph and the glory – indeed, all that is in heaven and earth; Yours, Hashem, is the kingdom, and You are supreme over all.” The official asked R. Shila what he meant, and R. Shila said he was giving a praise: “Blessed is the Merciful One who has made the earthly kingdom like the heavenly kingdom, has invested you with dominion, and made you lovers of justice.” The overlord thereupon handed R. Shila a staff and told him he could act as judge. Afterward, the offender threatened R. Shila’s life (see the Gemara for details), so R. Shila beat him with the staff and killed him.
The praise R. Shila expressed, the Maggid says, had a double meaning. On the surface, it was a praise of the government. On a deeper level, though, it was a praise of Hashem.
The Maggid explains as follows. The role of earthly rulers is to promote Hashem’s rulership on earth. In this vein, David HaMelech declares: “Your kingdom is a kingdom extending to all worlds, and your dominion abides throughout all generations.” Every kingdom that exists within the worlds of the universe is but a branch of the Kingdom of Heaven; these kingdoms are all just tools that Hashem uses to impose His dominion upon the universe. Thus, Shlomo HaMelech declares (Mishlei 21:1): “Like streams of water is the heart of a king in the hand of Hashem – wherever He wishes, he directs it.” This principle is what R. Shila had in mind when he declared that the earthly kingdom is like the heavenly kingdom: Hashem arranges for the earthly kingdom to serve the goals of His heavenly kingdom. And, indeed, Hashem arranged that the gentile overlord would have a hand in bringing about the wicked offender’s death.
This is what the Torah means when it says: “I, I, am He.” Hashem is saying: “I rule within heaven, and I exercise dominion upon earth. Everything that takes place on earth is by My decree, and there is no circumventing My will – there is no rescuer from My hand.”
Yeshayah says in Hashem’s Name (verses 48:12-13): “Listen to Me, O Yaakov, and Yisrael, as he was called by Me: I am He – I am the first, and I am also the last. [Cf. Yeshayah 44:6, one of the malchuyos verses in the Rosh Hashanah Musaf Amidah.] Furthermore, My hand laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand measured out the heavens. I call to them, that they should stand together.” In the end of days, Hashem will make evident to all that no action of any man over the course of history contravened His will. The heaven and earth will stand together, in testimony that every event in both realms was part of Hashem’s master plan.
May we gain the merit soon to see this day, when – in the words of the Rosh Hashanah Amidah – “all beings infused with a living spirit shall declare: ‘Hashem, the God of Israel, is King, and His sovereignty rules over all.’”
K’sivah v’chasimah tovah l’chol b’nei Am Yisrael!  
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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