After each set of shofar blasts on Rosh Hashanah, we sing a poem that recalls the birth of the world. On it’s birthday, the universe gives an account of itself.
Yet we do not read Genesis; we hear nothing about the creation of the universe at all. We read about Sarah and the birth of Yitzchak; with the accompanying Haftara of Hannah and the birth of Shmuel. What does this have to do with judgment and Rosh Hashanah?
Everything. The meaning of existence is associated here with the imagery of a woman who desperate for a child, who would do whatever it takes to make the child great. This imagery is exactly the model of our relationship with God. In the poem recalling creation, we hope that we stand before God as His children.
The model is one of love – for one another, strangers, and God. Love is what it means to be Jewish.
Look closer, and see how relevant the details are to us, as we are judged.
Sarah and Hannah have so much love and goodness to give, and no child to give it to. It’s the same reason God created us; to have someone to give goodness to.
Sarah and Hannah never gave up their vision of what they hoped could one day be; that they would have their perfect child. It’s the same reason God will never turn you away.
They prayed, despite the physical impossibility of ever having a child – they were infertile. Our prayers are powerful. We don’t understand how it works; but we don’t need to. It just does. We pour our hopes, ideals, and pleas into something, anything; perhaps tears, or even a sob.
This is the model for prayer.
Sarah and Hannah were desperate for a child and would do whatever it took to make their child great. It was their circumstances, and the way they reacted to them, that transformed these women into these figures we read about. They never lost hope. They just focussed inwards.
When they got what they always wanted, it is instructive to see how they responded. What did they want it for? There is no ego when it comes to raising a child. You serve your child. You have to sacrifice, nurture, clean, care for, watch, and protect them. Having a child means sacrifice. But that’s what an amazing parent does for their child. Happily. Happily because it’s worth it. Worth it because you love them. Love them because it’s what you always wanted.
So on Rosh Hashana, as we are judged, remember this.
Because that’s exactly how God feels about you.