I fondly remember a powerful thought from my great Rebbe, zt”l, in advance of Rosh Hashanah.
As we know, Hashem sits in judgment on the awesome day of Yom Hadin (the day of judgment). The fate of every human being for the coming year hangs in the balance. Prosecuting angels face-off against defending angels, and Hashem weighs every single action of each person. A most terrifying image.
Suddenly, as the prosecuting angel gets up to present his case – he stops short, paralyzed in fear. He hears the shrill sounds of the shofar on earth, and in a state of confusion he panics, rendered powerless to perform his job. He assumes that the shofar blow that he hears is the shofar blast announcing the coming of Mashiach – which triggers an end to his existence (Talmud R”H 26a).
The thundering question is: we blow the shofar every single year. And every single year this trick works to stymie the prosecuting angel. Assuming the prosecuting angel is incredibly adept at his job, how could he be so gullible year after year?
The simple but astounding answer is: true – the prosecuting angel is more wise then we could ever imagine. He could never be tricked twice, let alone thousands and millions of times. It is we who are jaded, lulled into a false security, believing that our redemption is unrealistic or far away at best. After all, if the repentance of our pious ancestors was insufficient to bring about the redemption, how ever could we contemplate doing such a thing?
The Chafetz Chaim addressed himself to this quandary. He taught that all the pain and suffering of our people throughout the ages, every drop of blood, sweat and tears, are cumulative. Each one is counted and weighed by Hashem. Therefore, it is specifically we who can tap into that enormous collective power, by telling Hashem that although our own merits may fall short to actualize the redemption, consider our meager efforts in combination with our entire history’s phenomenal efforts, for we are indeed one people – and finally bring an end to our exile!
Yes, indeed – the prosecuting angel has the proper perspective. He does understand just how close Mashiach is. So he gets flustered every single year when he hears the shofar blowing, understandably anxious that it spells his doom. It’s only because we lack the keen insight of an angel, we could never internalize on an emotional level just how imminent our redemption truly is.
That being the case, can you imagine the power of a little bit of extra effort on our part? It could actually tip the scales in our favour, and answer our prayers and hopes of final redemption in our days.