Let us Inundate the Satan with Problems
In the Rosh Hashanah prayers we say, “This day the world was called into existence; this day all the creatures of the world will be judged.” Although we know that Rosh Hashanah is the day of judgment for all the world’s creatures, we must understand why the Torah never alludes to the seriousness of this terrifying day. Its meaning is hidden and concealed, as our Sages have said on the verse: “Sound the shofar on the new moon, in concealment for the day of our festival” (Psalms 81:4).
The answer is that the Holy One, blessed be He, was careful to hide this holy day from the eyes of the Satan and other accusers in order that they not mention Israel’s sins. Throughout the year, the Satan impatiently awaits this time to see the Jewish people saddened and depressed, hoping in this way to testify against them. Yet we, on the contrary, wear white and surround ourselves with white, rejoicing and wholeheartedly confessing our sins so that the Holy One, blessed be He, will deal with us in mercy.
There is more. We must remember that in a few hours, the Holy One, blessed be He – Who probes both heart and mind – will judge man for all his sins. All his actions, all his deeds and thoughts, his tendencies and desires, will be weighed on the Creator’s scale of justice, and as we say in our prayers: “For the remembrance of every created being comes before You – man’s deed and his tasks, the actions and movements of a mortal, the thoughts of a person and his schemes, and the motives for the acts of a man” (Musaf Amidah).
It is obvious that we all want to win our case. How can this be achieved? The Gemara asks why we sound the shofar while seated, then while standing. It responds: “So as to confuse the Satan” (Rosh Hashanah 16b).
This is quite surprising. Is the Satan so “simple-minded” that the sound of the shofar confuses him to the point that he is incapable of speaking and can no longer accuse Israel?
The explanation is the following: The Sages have said that on Rosh Hashanah, the Holy One, blessed be He, is seated on His throne of justice with the books of life and death open before Him (Rosh Hashanah 32b). The decision as to who is destined for life and who for death is made in light of each individual’s spiritual state. The Satan, who is aware of this, does not want to miss such an opportunity. This is why he prepares in advance by collecting massive cartloads of sins from all the Jewish people, impatiently waiting to place them before Hashem so as to make us lose our case and be condemned. Yet after he has put a tremendous effort into doing all this, the Jewish people suddenly accomplish the mitzvah of sounding the shofar while seated, and once again while standing. Rashi explains: “The more meticulously the Jewish people perform the mitzvah of the shofar, the more they demonstrate their love for the mitzvot.” The wailing sound of the shofar then shakes the depths of our hearts as it cries out: “Improve [shapru] your deeds!” At that point the Jewish people immediately submit themselves to Hashem and repent of their sins. Not only do they repent because of fear, they repent because of love! The Sages have made us a tremendous promise regarding such repentance: “Premeditated sins are accounted as though they were merits” (Yoma 86b). This is the reason why the Satan is afraid to hear the sound of the shofar, for once he has put a great effort into bringing massive cartloads of sins and transgressions before Hashem, we surprise him by returning to G-d through love because of the shofar’s sounds of admonishment. The cartloads filled with destructive angels are then suddenly transformed into angels that work in our favor, meaning that all the Satan’s efforts have been in vain. Not only that, but it is the Satan himself who is responsible for having brought the merits of the Jewish people before the Holy One, blessed be He.
Thus a great opportunity is offered to each of us. Let us be craftier than the Satan; let us truly return to G-d through love. We will then merit being inscribed in the book of the righteous and pious for a good life and for peace!