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Opening The Gates of the Machzor: Malchiyot - Part II

Based on a shiur by Rebbetzin S. Nissenbaum

The first addition to the shemonei esrei on Rosh Hashana is Zachreinu l’chaim. We ask Hashem, to remember us for life. True life is deveikut b’Hashem, cleaving to Hashem.  We ask Hashem, “Let me experience you, let me live a genuine life of clinging to you. Open my eyes so that I can see opportunities for deveikut.” Rav Wolbe points out that we never ask for chayim in the singular form. We never ask only for ourselves but rather for all of creation. True life is only when we’re giving to others, when we’re sharing and connecting with other people. We ask for a life of connection with Hashem and His children.

We continue with Mi komocha… We continuously ask Hashem for mercy. “K’rachem av al banim… As a father has mercy on his children.” Rosh Hashana is a day of judgement and we know that none of us would be worthy if Hashem would count every of one our sins. “Mi yizke b’din… Who can come out meritorious on this day of judgement?” Only with the attribute of rachamim can it happen. Rachamim comes from the word rechem (womb). The womb is a wondrous organ that supports change and growth. When we ask Hashem for rachamim we are asking for a chance to grow and change. We plead with Hashem, “Inspire us to believe within ourselves that we can change and give us opportunities to do so.”  “Mi komocha  av harachamim…” Who is like you who gives us endless chances to change and grow and improve ourselves.

The highlight of the brachot of the day is Hamelech hakodesh. If we forget the other additions in shemonei esrei we don’t need to go back. But if we forget this addition we have to repeat shemonei esrei again. It’s with this blessing that we accept upon ourselves the holiness of the day. The Yesod V’shoresh Avodah writes that we should recite the words of V’ata kodesh with intense joy keeping in mind that Hashem designated us to be part of His inaugural ceremony. Ata in the Hebrew language is lashon nochech, first person, direct, face to face. When we recite these words we should recognize that we are standing directly before Hashem, the source of all holiness.

The next three paragraphs start with the word U’vchen. The Baal Hamachzor borrows this word from Megilat Esther. When Esther prepared to go to King Achashveirosh uninvited she said, “U’vchen ovo el hamelach shelo k’dat… I don’t deserve to be here. It’s not my place. But, U’vchen, I will come anyway.” U’vchen is the numerical value of 72. Hashem’s 72 letter name is kulo rachamim, all merciful. By saying the word U’vchen, Esther was invoking Hashem’s mercy so she could go before the king. And we know that every time the word hamelech is mentioned in the megilah it’s hinting to Hashem. It is in Queen Esther’s merit that we can approach Hashem. She taught us that Hashem is so full of mercy that even if we are not worthy of standing before Him, He will call us to come before Him anyway.

On Rosh Hashana, the books of life and death are open. Hashem determines the fate of each of us for the new year. The possibilities of good and evil are endless. Yet there are no personal requests to be found in our machzor. Instead we ask, “U’vchen ten pachdecha…, instill within us awe, that we might look at You Hashem and see You everywhere.” The main goal of our prayers on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is to sanctify Hashem’s name. There’s so much we could ask for. Yet we plead that the entire universe be filled with awe, fear, and love of our Creator the King. We ask for yirat haromemut, let us not be afraid of punishment. Rather let us be awed by your greatness. Let us see you everywhere and let us feel ein od milvado (there is nothing besides You) every moment of our existence.

In the third paragraph we say U’vchen tzadikim, the righteous will see and be glad. All the evil will evaporate like smoke. When we say tzadikim we refer to all of Am Yisrael as it says, “V’ameich kulim tzadikim.” We are davening for all of Klal Yisrael and presenting them to Hashem as tzadikim because we truly believe every Jew is holy. There will come a time when Hashem will separate the evil deeds from the person and he will just be left with his holiness and good deeds, his true inner essence.

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