Many years ago, at a talk given during Elul at Aish HaTorah in Jerusalem, the Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Noah Weinberg zt’l posed the following challenge:
“Over and over again throughout the Rosh Hashanah prayer service we ask God that He rule over the entire world and that all humanity should recognize His Kingship. We know that this is what mankind needs to straighten itself out. Now, if this is what we really want, we have to mean what we say. How do we know if we really want God to be our King?”
Before we answer Rabbi Weinberg’s question, I’d like to share with you a story that happened to me a couple of weeks before he asked that question.
An international celebrity (whom I met through my work with the Executive Learning Center) called me and asked, “Shmuel, could you do me a favor and see if you can find a copy of the letter that Rabbi Elchanon Wasserman wrote before he left America to return to Europe just prior to WWII? I need it for a book I am writing.”
“Sure,” I said, “No problem.”
Keep in mind that this was in 1997, a year before Google was incorporated. I had no idea how to find the letter, but here was an opportunity to develop a relationship with this celebrity. Immediately after hanging up the phone I called Rabbi Ari Kahn and asked him if he could find the letter. Reb Ari said, “Sure, no problem…” He actually did have an idea how to get it.
During the next few days I stayed in contact with the celebrity informing him of the progress and stayed in touch with Rabbi Kahn to make sure the job was getting done. I was taking this request very seriously… my relationship with this important person was at stake! If I succeeded I would be endeared to him… if not, boy would I be embarrassed…
* * *
Imagine the phone rings in your house….
“Hello?” you say.
“Good morning, this is the President speaking.”
(replace President for the appropriate title for your country)
“C’mon Herby, quit fooling around… what’s up?”
“No, really. This is the President,” insists the voice, “I’ve just completed a new book. It’s a formula for fixing all the problems in America and bringing about world peace.”
“Okay, Herby, I’ll play along. I’ll be the Vice President..”
Non-plussed the President continues, “It has a major self-help section in it for individuals to achieve their potentials before it deals with international relations and policy.”
You detect a regional accent and begin to think this really is the President and your heart begins to beat a little faster. You comment, “Sounds great. After all, a perfected society is just the sum of the perfected individuals in it.”
“Exactly,” says the President with a smile, “I knew I had the right person when I called. I want you to join a select group here in Washington who will study the book, become experts in it and incorporate the ideas into their lives to show skeptics that this formula will work.”
“Me?” you say meekly, more to yourself than to the President.
“Yes, you. As part of the team you will participate in special quarterly cabinet sessions as well as an annual meeting to evaluate our progress. Also I want you to be in touch with me three times a day on a private phone line to let me know what you might need in order to get the job done. As long as you act responsibly, there’s an unlimited budget… After all, this isn’t Herby speaking, I really am the President…”
* * *
On Rosh Hashanah we ask God to be our King. If we really want Him to be the King, how would we act? If the King wrote a book and asked us to join him in the palace to study it and live by it as part of a select group to help perfect the world, would we answer, “Just a minute, let me finish the newspaper first.?” or “Listen, I’ve got an important business deal cooking on the other line, can I put you on hold?” or “Someone just gave me a pair of gold seats for the NHL playoff game, can we change the date for the meeting?”
If we really recognize and want God to be King then we would run out immediately and buy His ‘Book’ and start studying and living by it. We’d call our travel agents and reserve a seat on the next flight to join the team. We’d start living by the rules in the book even while we were waiting for the plane to take off. And when he asked us to drop cheeseburgers and shrimp cocktails, we’d answer, “Sure.” And when he asked us to help Him out by giving that poor person some charity we’d say, “No problem.”
And certainly, if we realized we had a direct line to God and could have anything we needed to get the job done, we’d be on the ‘phone’ with him at least three times a day.
With blessings for a sweet, healthy, happy, joyous and meaningful year… one in which we truly make God the King in our lives.