A: On Yom Kippur we’re busy saying אשמנו בגדנו גזלנו. We spend the whole day admitting our sins. Now, why don’t we do that on Rosh Hashana, you ask. It’s a day of judgement. Why don’t we confess our sins on Rosh Hashana?
There is a very good reason why we don’t say vidui on Rosh Hashana. The answer is that there’s something even more important to do on Rosh Hashana. We have more vital business to transact, and that’s the business of Hashem Melech – the business of recognizing that Hakodosh Boruch Hu is around.
You know, I mentioned before that there are people who are pious in details. But they are not pious in the generalities. They don’t believe much in Hakodosh Boruch Hu. They believe in kashrus, and in Shabbos, and in taharas hamishpacha, and they won’t shave with razor blades. And all that’s wonderful. They sit in the sukkah, they buy an esrog, wonderful! But they don’t remember Hashem enough. They forget about Him.
So, Yom Kippur is for the details. Of course you must speak about the details. Certainly! Certainly if a Jew has sinned, he has to atone for that. But on Rosh Hashana we have to devote time to the premise, the foundation. And the foundation of everything is yiras Hashem – to be aware of Hashem.
And that’s why on Rosh Hashana, instead of spending the day bent over saying סלח לנו and אשמנו בגדנו, we spend the day on our feet shouting ה’ מלך ה’ מלך ה’ ימלוך לעולם ועד – Hashem was always the King, Hashem is the King now, and Hashem will be the King forever and ever. Because that’s the message that has to strike home on Rosh Hashana.
And once you become aware of Hashem, once you get into your head that Hashem is King, then you’ll be ready for the details of Yom Kippur.
TAPE # 138 (September 1976)