Q & A With The Rosh HaYeshivah, HaGaon HaRav Aharon Walkin, ztk”l

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What should one think about when he prays on Rosh Hashanah?

A: Rosh Hashanah is about Hashem being the melech and us being his nation. The goal and focus of a true servant is to bring out the glory of the king with little focus on the self.

The Zohar says that whoever prays on Rosh Hashanah for his personal needs is like a dog who is constantly focusing on receiving. The proper mindset is one of “בתוך עמי אנכי ישבת,” “I dwell among my people”; where one blends into their fellow congregants and ask for the goodness of klal Yisrael as whole. One who singles himself out, loses the merit of the tzibur, and as the Rambam says “it prevents proper teshuvah.”

How does one reach the level of hisorerus needed to have the proper mindset during prayer?

A: It comes by itself when the mind is not selfish and is not focused on one’s own needs. When we take away the negative thoughts and feelings we then allow positive thoughts to surface. Humility brings the proper emotion.

May one cry and be sad on Rosh Hashanah?

A: The Gra says in (מעשה רב (ר”ז that one should not cry on Rosh Hashanah. However, if one began to cry on his own not out of sadness, rather a cry of closeness to Hashem - it is ok. The (באר היטב (תקפ”ד ג’ brings down in the name of the אריז”ל that if one reaches a climax while praying, where he began to cry on his own, it is a sign that he is being judged at that moment.

Based on their shiurim of Rav Aharon Walkin ztk”l delivered at the Chazaq Beit Midrash Bais Nosson Meir / Kollel Zichron Moshe V’Leah