אתם נצבים היום כולכם לפני ה’ אלהיכם, “You are all standing today before Hashem your G-d.” The Zohar writes that the word “today” is referring to Rosh Hashanah, where we stand before Hashem in judgment. The Baal Haturim writes that there is a mesorah to connect the word “ nitzavim” of this parsha with the word “ ויתיצבו” at matan torah, in the verse “they stood by the mountain,” “.ויתיצבו בתחתית ההר” What is the connection between “ אתם נצבים” and “ ויתיצבו בתחתית ההר?” We see this connection as well in the writings of Rav Saadiya Gaon. He writes that there are ten reasons to blow shofar on Rosh Hashanah, and one of them concerns its connection to the shofar that was blown at Har Sinai. Nevertheless, we still need to understand the common theme between the two.
Let’s take notice that the nusach of shemoneh esrai on the yamim noraim is all about Hashem’s kavod. ובכן תן פחדך, ובכן תן כבוד, ובכן יתקדש שמך, ויתנו לך כתר מלוכה. The Riszhener Rebbi gives a mashal to this. There was a king that fixed a certain time during the day in which to give audience to any of his subjects to express their wishes. One day, someone knocked on the palace door prior to the appointed time. The guards paid no attention to his knocking. The man suddenly started screaming “I have not come for personal reasons. I have come to save the king.” Upon hearing his plea they immediately opened the doors and ushered him in straight to the king. So too if we come on Rosh Hashanah with personal requests, there is the possibility that we might be ignored, as our spiritual “resume” is probably lacking in merits and full of shortcomings. An even worse scenario might occur, that with such an inferior and compromised service to the King of Kings, the request might be considered a chutzpah and insult. However, if we come to the palace of the king with the words, “I want to free the shechinah from the bonds of galus by becoming a better servant to Him and to His Torah,” then the royal court will enthusiastically whisk you in to have an audience with the King who will be very pleased with such great news.
The Chorketover Rebbe found an allusion to this concept in the passuk לא הביט און ביעקב ולא ראה עמלך בישראל ה’ אלקיו עמו ותרועת מלך בו ( Bamidbar 23:21). He interpreted this message as follows. When does Hashem not see any iniquities or transgressions in klal yisrael? When Hashem’s geulah is the sole concern of our tefillos, and the shofar blowing, which announces Hashem’s coronation as the King over the entire world, is in line with our true feelings and inner yearnings.
But how many of us possess these lofty thoughts and pure intentions at the time of shofar blowing? We have valuable merits here that can cause us to be written in the sefer hachayim, which is what we are beseeching from during Rosh Hashanah. So we connect our shofar blowing with that of matan torah in which the shofar was also present. What zechus of matan torah are we seeking on Rosh Hashanah? The Shem Mishmuel writes that it is the zechus of נעשה ונשמע. Chazal state that if a Yid lost a coin and it was picked up by a poor person from which he sustained himself, the one who lost it receives berachos for his benevolent act of tzedakah. But how can that be if there was no act of tzedakah and no intention at all to benefit another Yid, let alone a poor person? The answer is that when am yisrael stood at har sinai they said the words נעשה ונשמע . They committed themselves to do even before they understood what their committed actions entailed. Because of this they are therefore entitled to have an action counted for their behalf even though they lacked the intention of doing it.
The Shevet Miyisrael writes that the shofar of Rosh Hashanah reminds Hashem of matan torah where we said נעשה ונשמע. He advises that when we hear the shofar blowing of Rosh Hashanah we should accept upon ourselves the same proclamation of am yisrael of נעשה ונשמע. This will be our zechus that allows us to ask that even if the intentions of our deeds are not as pure and for the sake of Hashem as they should be, nevertheless they should be overlooked and not taken into consideration. Hashem and His beis din should only focus on the deeds which are meritorious.
The Shem Mishmuel has elaborated on the shofar of Rosh Hashanah parallels the shofar of matan torah leading us to the meritorious event of נעשה ונשמע. However, I would like to suggest that the connection to matan Torah is more exacting than explained. The shofar of matan torah is not only used as a directive sign to matan torah and its נעשה ונשמע, but rather the shofar of matan torah was there to exemplify the very concept of נעשה ונשמע.
For the Yalkut Shimoni (22) in the parsha of the akaidah writes that every part of the ram sacrificed in Yitzchak’s place was used for a holy purpose. The left horn was used for the shofar of matan torah and the right horn will be used for the shofar of mashiach. Avraham’s steadfast emunah in Hashem was the test in this tenth nisayon. As Rashi points out, Avraham could have asked Hashem the obvious question; if he would shect Yitzchak then there would come about a contradiction with Hashem’s promise that, through Yitzchak, am yisrael will be formed. However, Avraham refused to use his rational intellect and he was just about to slaughter Yitzchak, if he had not been restrained from shamayim. In essence, Avraham demonstrated, with his emunah, the commitment of נעשה ונשמע — to do even though one does not understand the logic behind it. The נעשה ונשמע commitment is symbolized by the horns of the ram which ascend above its head (logic). The horn of the ram was used at matan torah to demonstrate am yisrael’s attainment of the same level of נעשה ונשמע that Avraham possessed at the Akaidah, which was transmitted to am yisrael.
Returning to the shofar of Rosh Hashanah, which is a derivative of Matan Torah, we now understand that it itself also proclaims the נעשה ונשמע maalah of Am Yisrael. This maalah can cause the heavenly prosecutors to become unable to scrutinize whether the intentions of our mitzvos are lishmah or not, for it will not make any difference since we are נעשה ונשמע people. But like the Shevet Miyisrael writes, it would help very much if we can have this same commitment of נעשה ונשמע during the time of hearing the shofar of Rosh Hashanah.
Now we can return to the first passuk in the parsha אתם נצבים היום כולכם לפני ה’ אלקיכם we are all standing upright before Hashem. Yes, we are before Hashem on the yom hadin and yet we feel supported standing straight and secure. In fact we dress up in yom tov clothes, and get haircuts beforehand, in order to look our best, all because we feel secure in the positive outcome of our din. One may ask how we can be so certain. Even if we fulfilled many mitzvos who can say we did it for the right reason without any alterior motives? It is this question that the mesorah addresses when relating the word of נצבים to the passuk at matan torah ויתיצבו בתחתית ההר. It is the zechus of נעשה ונשמע that removes the heavenly bais din from first inquiring about our intentions and personal agenda attached to our mitzvos and then criticizing them. As we stand before Hashem on the Day of Judgment and blow the shofar, we can rest assured that we don’t have to worry so much about our intentions while fulfilling the mitzvos. The shofars of matan torah and the akaidah will do their job.
Gut Shabbos, Kesivah Vechasima Tova