Everything in Judaism is both constant and unique. The reason for this seeming paradox is that Torah is our life. Just as we want our life to be constant and also unique, the same applies to our Torah behavior.
The New Year 5770 is upon us, and another Rosh Hashanah is about to be observed. This Rosh Hashanah is basically the same as the thousands that were observed by our ancestors. We will hear the shofar, pray extra-long and extra-special tefillat, dip apples in honey, listen to sweet-voiced cantors and be inspired by our rabbis’ sermons. We will cast our sins into bodies of water at Tashlich, and strengthen our communal ties with our fellow congregants at synagogue.
Philosophically and mystically, this Rosh Hashanah will represent major tenets of Judaism. We will acknowledge that God Almighty is the king of the universe, and particularly, Melech Yisrael. We will confirm that He is a personal God, who cares about us, and is intimately familiar with all our affairs. The blowing of the shofar is a yearly coronation of God, and a recommitting of ourselves as His servants. These concepts and more are relevant and meaningful every Rosh Hashanah.
However, this year is a unique lesson that we are taught. The sound at the shofar will be silent on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. Despite the fact that it is a biblical mitzvah to hear the shofar; despite the fact that by blowing the shofar we coronate God as King of the universe; despite the fact that the shofar arouses and inspires us to improve our behavior and become more moral, ethical, spiritual, observant, and pious Jews — the shofar is silent. Why? Because there is something more important, holy and crucial that trumps the significance of shofar.
Shabbat! Shabbat is so much more Holy and relevant for Jews that we silence the shofar because we are worried that the Shabbat will be compromised.
When Rosh Hashanah occurs on a weekday, the world appears to be an existence, separate from God. When we blow the shofar, we accept God as our King, and behave appropriately in the world. We are empowered to receive the world in its true essence — permeated with Godliness, completely and constantly dependent on God for its continued existence. Therefore we don’t have to blow the shofar to remember the Divine King. The whole world shouts the fact! On the second day when the world reverts to its weekday status, we will blow the shofar.
This year when its rosh, its head, is Shabbat, it is appropriate to renew our commitment to this weekly holy day. Light the candles, recite kiddush, have special meals with family and friends, go to shul, and refrain from weekday activities.
Affirming this resolution before Rosh Hashanah will surely call forth God’s favor, and bless each and everyone with happy, healthy, sweet New Year.