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Rosh HaShana - Sheep, Mountain Climbers & Soldiers

Sep 28, 2011 by R Pesach Siegel

                                                                             Rosh HaShana 5772

It is with great trepidation that we approach this awesome day. We know very little about what goes on "up there". The gemara in Meseches Rosh HaShana reveals that on this day, all the denizens of the world pass in front of our King - like Bnei Maron.

What are Bnei Maron?

The gemara states three views. Bnei Maron are sheep. Bnei Maron are travelers on a treacherous mountain road. Bnei Maron are soldiers.

My rebbe, Rav Chaim Dov Keller, shlita (Rosh Yeshiva of Telshe-Chicago) brought out a point from the words of the gemara.

When a sheep owner chooses to slaughter one or more of his flock. He approaches the sheep pen and opens the gate. Upon seeing the gate open, all the sheep flock to the opening. They rush, unthinking, to get out. Where are they rushing to? Some of them are rushing to their doom. They pass by, one by one, without even being cognizant of the danger that may await them.

This is the approach of the "unthinking" ones to the Yom HaDin. They pass by one at a time, not being able to escape the harsh eye of judgement, unaware of their fate, even rushing towards their fate.

People who walk upon a narrow treacherous mountain path, walk single file. There is no room for more than one at a time. Any miss-step can spell disaster. They carefully place one foot in front of the other, implanting their feet upon firm ground before undertaking the next step.

These are like the people who are aware of the harsh judgement of Rosh HaShana. They take great care to tread carefully, constantly checking their footsteps. But their attention is totally focused upon themselves. They cannot see outside of themselves. the danger upon them is so consuming that they cannot include others in their reality.

Soldiers in an an army are starkly aware of the danger facing them. They don't delude themselves. They may not come back alive. But their own personal security is not what is foremost upon their minds. They are willing to give up their lives, if necessary, as long as the King wins the war. That is the cause that they live for. That is the cause that they are ready to die for.

On Rosh HaShana, the central theme of our prayers is the all encompassing monarchy of our Creator, our Father, our King. We don't focus on our personal aveiros, our shortcomings. Our flaws are just a "sideshow".  Rosh HaShana is not about "us". We are like the Bnei Maron, like soldiers, as we march before Hashem on this day.

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