“God, why is that the Jews don’t sing
(the song of joy and Praise to Hashem usually sung on Holidays) on Ros
h Hashanah?” asked the Angels. God responded, “can it be that a
king would sit in justice, with the books of the living and the dead open before him, and the Jews would nevertheless sing
?” So taught Rabbi Abahu.
lets us in on a secret that he was privy to. He was passed down thetradition, that all holy souls of our ancestors who are no longer living come to the synagogue with us on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and join us in prayer. Thus, he explains, thebooks of the living and the dead are indeed open before Hashem, in the sense that the deadare actually part of the High Holiday prayers. Since dead people can not praise Hashem, asKing David said
, thus Rosh Hashanah is not an appropriate time to sing
, and only when the dead rise again, will they sing a great song. We learn that Rosh Hashanah is a time of sobriety, where we connect to our prayers in thecontext of all of history, with the dead right next to us, praying, as it were, for their lives tohave meaning and fulfillment through our efforts in continuing their missions. Songs are for
when we are at a summit, when we are finished with a great task, “those who plant in tears,reap in song!”
When the Jews crossed the Red Sea, and watched their enemies die, andthings reached their pinnacle, they sang
And when Moshiach comes, we will sing agreat song, as the world reaches its great perfection. On our holidays, when we celebrate aspiritual gift, or great religious experience, we sing
But we do not sing
on RoshHashanah, for there is much too much left to do. Dead people who did not bring the worldto its perfection are still waiting to sing
for their task was not yet finished; the worldis not yet perfect. On Rosh Hashanah, when we are assessed as a world, the dead are aspresent as those who are alive in some way. All of mankind, from the beginning of time isbeing judged by Hashem. How are we progressing in the journey from Creation, back inEden, to Perfection, as the world is meant to be some day? And while we are in that mode, we do not focus on the joy of what we have done, but on the task ahead of us, and how wehope to complete that in the year to come.
Arachin 10b, Rosh Hashanah 32b
Drashos Chasam Sofer 350b, s.v. Asher Yeshno