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A compilation of short stories and sayings about Rosh Hashana.


The Rebbe Rashab would caution that on Rosh Hashana in particular they should arouse heavenly mercy with tears and inner arousal, for rectification of middos and proper conduct with Chassidic middos.

“One time,” related the Rebbe Rayatz, “I went to my father on the second day of Rosh Hashana before the maamer (it was one of the set times I would go and see him) and my father said to me, ‘See and grab. Another twenty-two minutes remain until sunset.’

“On that occasion, he left later to say the maamer.”


The Rebbe Maharash said:

“When a Jew sighs or cries on Rosh Hashana for not having it good materially, in health or livelihood, this is t’shuva ilaa (higher t’shuva).”


It is brought in the Zohar that the avoda of t’shuva is in one hour and one moment. According to this, we can explain the Mishna in Avos which says, “Better is one hour of t’shuva etc.” that it means one turn toward t’shuva (shaa from the root “and to Kayin and his gift He did not turn”).

(Seifer HaSichos 5750)


When a craftsman needs to fix a vessel, he first examines it to find out which part he needs to remove entirely and replace and which can be fixed. There are parts that don’t need fixing at all; just cleaning and washing.

The same is true for spiritual avoda. Before starting the avoda of rectifying oneself, you need to examine your situation and make a spiritual accounting without any excuses and seeking to justify yourself.

(Maamer Ani L’Dodi 5700)


The Tzemach Tzedek said on Erev Rosh Hashana:

“I once met with Jewish soldiers who told me that they would recite T’hillim while they polished their buttons. Buttons are polished with sand and water. Sand is the letters of T’hillim and water is cleansing tears. Each of us needs to cleanse himself by saying T’hillim with tears from the depths of the heart and at the same time, with joy of the soul.”

(Seifer HaSichos 5705)


Erev Rosh Hashana we need to prepare to accept our Father, our King. A father loves a pure heart; a king loves clean garments. The avoda of Rosh Hashana is to purify the heart (i.e. the inner emotions) and clean one’s garments (i.e. thought, speech and action).

(Seifer HaSichos 5705)


The main avoda of Rosh Hashana is to accept the yoke of the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, the avoda of the day, even by great people of stature, is an avoda that seems simple – saying T’hillim, sleeping less, taking great care not to speak idly, like a servant occupied with the joy of welcoming his father whom he has not seen for an entire year.

(Igros Kodesh Admur Rayatz)


One year during Elul the Rebbe Rashab went with his son, Rayatz, for a walk out of the city. At a certain point he said to his son, “A walk provides serenity for the soul. Wherever you look, you see the mercy poured upon creation. The fields and trees are dry. Here and there are wind-blown fields. All of creation yearns for new life. It all reminds us to do t’shuva, that a person needs to prepare himself to ask for forgiveness in anticipation of the coronation of the King of kings, Hashem.


“Who is like You E-l, who bears iniquity and passes over willful sin.” When Hashem “bears iniquity” – meaning that He (nosei) raises and brings up the sin to castigate the sinner, this is a sign that He “passes over willful sin” – that He wants to get past and cleanse the willful sin.

What is this compared to? To two people who quarrel and when they decide to make up each one castigates the other in order to clarify who wronged who. However, if they do not want to be appeased one does not “raise up the iniquity” of the other to reprove him for wronging him.

(Kesser Shem Tov)


The judgment of Rosh Hashana does not compare to the judgment of a person after 120 years. In the world of truth, you can no longer do t’shuva, but at the judgment of Rosh Hashana t’shuva is effective and Hashem is ready to accept those who return on this day.

(Seifer HaMaamarim Kuntreisim)


The mitzva of the day of Rosh Hashana is to blow the shofar. There is no orchestra, just one instrument and even that is not a sophisticated one which produces wondrous musical compositions but a simple animal horn “and all sounds are kosher with the shofar.”

From here we learn that on Rosh Hashana our attention ought to be primarily on the individual, on the person himself, with an emphasis on bringing holiness and spirituality into even the simplest and most ordinary things of daily life.

(Likkutei Sichos)


Based on the idea that a person is where his thoughts are, since while hearing the shofar his thoughts are about hearing the “great shofar” (as expressed in the recitation of the verse “blow the great shofar”), then he is hearing the sound of the shofar in his thoughts, the “great shofar” of the future Geula.

In order to make this “great shofar” become something that actually is heard, since action is the main thing, obviously we need to increase those activities that hasten the revelations of the future when the promise will literally be fulfilled, “and it will be on that day, a great shofar will be blown.” 

(Sicha of second day Rosh Hashana 5742)


On Rosh Hashana 5681, the first Rosh Hashana after the passing of the Rebbe Rashab and the first for his son, Rayatz, as Rebbe, the Rebbe Rayatz refused to blow the shofar as his father had done.

However, his mother Rebbetzin Shterna Sarah begged him to do so, saying that she wanted to hear the blowing of the shofar from him. The Rebbe Rayatz said the brachos before the blowing, blew one t’kia and gave the shofar to one of the Chassidim for him to finish the series of t’kios. Thus he fulfilled the obligation of kibud eim while also doing what he wanted.

(Yemei B’Reishis)


In Chassidus it explains the three sounds of the shofar in man’s avoda:

T’kia – a person needs litkoa, to strongly implant himself in avodas Hashem.

Sh’varim – a person needs to break his heart when he recalls his sins, “lev nishbar.

T’rua – from the root “tero’eim b’shevet barzel” (you shall break them with an iron rod), to break the large pieces into tiny bits.

The breaking into large pieces is the removal and nullification of gross evil in the soul. The breaking into tiny bits is the nullification of subtle evil which is even harder.

(Farbrengen Parshas Balak 5743)


The Rebbe would blow the shofar himself. During the t’kios, big bundles were placed on the Bima which apparently contained some of the pidyonei nefesh that were submitted before Yom Tov.


The Baal Shem Tov would blow the shofar in the presence of his disciples. One time, he asked his great disciple, the author of the Toldos, to blow for the disciples while he blew for the simple people and children who cried out with the full intensity of their souls: “Our Father in heaven, please have mercy!” And this accomplished more than anything to nullify the dinim – strict judgments.

(Seifer HaSichos 5705)


The Rebbe Rayatz said, “One should treasure every bit of piyut (liturgical poem) in which HaMelech is mentioned, for on Rosh Hashana we draw down the Kesser Malchus.

(Sicha of Simchas Torah 5699)


What is the difference between crowning the king and bowing to the king?

Coronation indicates a person’s subservience to the king’s command, whatever he might command (the revealed expressions of the king). Bowing shows subservience of the essence of man to the king’s essence. 

Coronation = hiskashrus (connection)

Bowing = his’achdus (unification).

(Seifer HaSichos 5705)


Although accepting G-d’s malchus (kingship) on Rosh Hashana is through kabbalas ol (accepting the yoke), the manner in which the malchus is accepted ought to be with joy. A Jew needs to feel that the yoke is not a burden. As it was when the sea split, when the Jewish people accepted the yoke of heaven with song and joy, when they said, “May Hashem reign forever and ever,” and as we say in davening, “Who transported His children between the split parts of Yam Suf … and Whose kingdom they accepted willingly upon them.”

Every Rosh Hashana we need to accept the ol malchus Shamayim (yoke of Hashem’s sovereignty) again, with greater desire, for there is desire (rational will) and there is desire (transcendent will).

(Yahel Or)


Kabbalas ol malchus Shamayim (accepting the yoke of Hashem’s sovereignty) that we have every day, especially during the recitation of Shma, is only a beginning and foundation for man’s conduct throughout that day. The kabbalas ol malchus Shamayim of Rosh Hashana is the very substance and content of the entire day.

(Likkutei Sichos)


Coronation of Hashem as king brings joy to a person since there is no greater joy than Hashem accepting the kingship. But the joy is still concealed. It is revealed only on Sukkos. As Chassidus explains on the verse, “ba’keseh l’yom chageinu” that those things which are concealed on Rosh Hashana are revealed on Sukkos. (An allusion to this: the first day of Rosh Hashana always falls on the same day of the week as Sukkos).

An analogy for this is the coronation of a human king, where the coronation and feast take place at different times. During the coronation, the king is crowned, people bow to him, and they accept the yoke of his kingship. That is not the right time for feasting and rejoicing. Only later on, at another time, is the coronation feast held with great and open joy.

(Sicha of the first night of Sukkos 5745)


There are those who come to the “four cubits” of Nasi Doreinu for Rosh Hashana, especially when this place is where the Rebbe, my father-in-law, Nasi Doreinu lived and was involved in Torah, Avoda and G’milus Chassadim for ten years of his life in this world.

Therefore, when everyone gathers together in this place and they daven and learn divrei Torah etc. this is part of our general deeds and works that bring about the true and complete Geula.

(Farbrengen of the second day of Rosh Hashana 5742)


The Alter Rebbe said:

“When you learn and pray with concentration during the six days of the week, then it is Erev (from the word ‘Arev-sweet’) Shabbos, the Shabbos is sweet. When you spend the month of Elul and the days of Slichos as you should, then it is Erev Rosh Hashana – (lit.) the year has a sweet head.”


R’ Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev said about the k’siva va’chasima (inscription and sealing) of Rosh Hashana that since it is forbidden to write on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, if the writing is for good there is a heter (allowance) for pikuach nefesh (danger to life); but if not, it is forbidden.

So there must be a good inscription and sealing. The inscription and sealing begin today, for through the preparations and “arousal from below” for forty days, we draw down the “arousal from above” that it will be a good inscription and sealing in the book of the righteous for immediate good life.

(Sicha of 20 Av 5714)


The senior Chabad Chassidim in Liozna would often retell the words of the Alter Rebbe when he came to them for the first time from Mezritch. The Rebbe repeated divrei Torah that the holy Baal Shem Tov said, as he heard it from the Maggid of Mezritch.

Ashrei ha’am yod’ei teru’a” – praise and thanks to Hashem that all the Jewish people, with no difference between the Torah geniuses and those who learn Midrash, an Ein Yaakov Jew or a T’hillim Jew – all know the trumpeting of war with the animal soul and they have an inner feel for the expressions of the G-dly soul. 


One year, after the davening on Rosh Hashana, the Tzemach Tzedek said:

In the prayers of the day we say, “If we are like children, have mercy as a father has mercy on his children, and if we are like slaves, then our eyes look up to You.” The question is, it would have been more fitting to say the reverse – “if we are like children, then our eyes look up to You, and if we are like slaves, then have mercy?”

Chazal say “whoever who acquires a Hebrew slave it’s as though he acquired a master over himself,” and therefore, “if we are like slaves” – we are all the more certain that “You will grant us grace.”

(Shmuos V’Sippurim)


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