Declaring God to be “King” is the main theme of Rosh Ha-Shanah.
In an earlier post, I conveyed my thoughts about what it means to call God “King:”
It takes a lot, especially in this era of reliance on empirical, “scientific” understanding, to attribute everything that happens to a Divine Source.
Yes, Newton and Einstein both accepted that the appearance of order in Creation strongly suggests a Divine “Designer.” Yet, both believed that once formed, the “Creation” proceeds on its own, following “laws” that the “Designer” has placed in the process. A ball, dropped from a 3rd story window, drops to the ground because of the law of “gravity;” not because there is any Divine agent actively causing it to happen.
Judaism tells us to consider a view with infinitely wider and deeper possibilities: all happens according to the Divine that is present in Creation at all times and places. Even the most seemingly insignificant detail is accomplished by and in God.
We might feel a certain awe at Rosh Ha-Shanah services in simply suggesting this fact. Yet, leaving the service, we return to our typical view of the world: a material reality that exists and runs on its own, separate from God.
Some probably wrestle with the concept itself, although I must report that I’ve rarely heard people discuss it — even directly after a service.
To wrestle with it to the point where you’ve adjusted your way of thinking is no small spiritual accomplishment of its own.
Where do you go from there?
We might look into philosophy or rabbinic commentary or Hasidic/Kabbalistic teaching about this, to explain it to ourselves further and to confirm its basis in Jewish tradition.
Eventually, however, you must take a personal step: You must see the events in your own personal life as occurring by and in God. In practice, you might begin with one event or problem, then another; reframing your view of the events as being done by God for the good — just as Yosef did after his brothers had sold him into slavery.
But all changes of belief are changes on the level of thought. We need to go beyond thought. I think that changes in emunah/faith happen best — perhaps only — in personal prayer or meditation. In personal prayer — like hitbodedut as taught by Rebbe Nachman of Breslav (represented today by Rabbi Shalom Arush), for example — God (or God’s Presence) is a real experience; one you are interacting with. It is like the difference between reading or thinking that the world is round, or even seeing a picture of it, and being in space, looking at the world and seeing its roundness. The experience changes you in ways that the “fact” alone never can.
In the direct experience of God, God is more real than the world!
I suggest, therefore, that we can take the theme of Rosh Ha-Shanah of declaring God as “King,” and each see it in terms of the unique details of our own personal lives.
It doesn’t matter whether those details are financial, romantic, professional, and so on.
We can begin with a single event, or question or problem.
Attribute it to God and place it in God’s Hands (as it were) for the wisest, most universally beneficial outcome.
You might not even be able to “place it in God’s Hands.” If not, once you’re in God’s real presence, simply place it before that Presence; in fact, you’re placing it in the Presence. Don’t struggle to let it go or resolve it. Allow the Presence to do with it what It will.
If you do this only superficially, your heart will remain untouched.
Do it until you rejoice in God’s Presence regardless of the outcome!
We must sometimes give it to God in prayer more than once, until we feel a thorough release from concern with the problem.
It can also happen that we surrender it in prayer without feeling a release at the moment, but later on notice that concern for the problem is gone.
When you do, you will not only be proclaiming God to be “King.” You will be making God “My King.”
Actually, God already is. It’s only left for us to realize it!