Should I go into Rosh Hashanah with simcha because it is yomtiv or with trepidation because it’s the Yom Hadin?
And the answer is you have to do both. וגילו ברעדה – You have to tremble and rejoice (Tehillim 2:11). It’s a yomtiv, no question about it, and so there has to be simchas yomtiv. But on Rosh Hashanah כמה דכייף איניש דעתיה טפי מעלי – the more a person is bent over in his mind, the better off he is (Rosh Hashana 26b). The more he’s afraid on Rosh Hashanah, the better off he is. Be afraid on Rosh Hashanah! It’s very important.
Our forefathers, if you remember the old days; you don’t remember but in the olden days they wept on Rosh Hashanah. Jews wept on Rosh Hashanah דמעות שליש, copious tears. It’s very important to weep on Rosh Hashanah. You should be afraid of the Yom Hadin.
But the important purpose of that is so that in our minds we should get the idea we’re standing before the Great Judge. That’s what’s important, the ideals that we have to form in our mind. The cognizance, the awareness that Hashem is judging the world and that He is the Dayan, the King, who rules everything.
And included in that is the fear a person has when he is going before a judge. Even for a small trial, people are afraid of a trial. Imagine chas veshalom they’re calling you for a small thing before a judge. You’re afraid.
And to come before the Great Judge, a Judge who you can’t deceive, surely you’re afraid. No lawyer is going to intercede for you there. And so there, the greatest fear is necessary; certainly.
And the more fear you have on the Yom Hadin, the more you’re succeeding in formulating in your mind the proper attitudes for which you deserve to get a year of happiness and all the things you’re looking for.
TAPE # 978 (September 1994)
לשנה טובה תכתבו ותחתמו כולכם לאלתר לחיים טובים בספרם של צדיקים גמורים אתם וכל הנלווים עליכם
From the end of the Rov’s last Rosh Hashanah lecture (September 28, 2000/כט׳ אלול תש״ס)