The following understanding of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, as explained by Hagoen HaRav Elya Ber Wacthfogel Shlita, Rosh Yeshiva Zichron Moshe, South Fallsburg (reposted from Rav Eidensohn):
There is an ancient question. Why does Rosh Hashana precede Yom Kippur? We all know that for proper teshuva it is necessary to confess your sins (vidoi), have regret for sinning and we need to atone for those sins. Thus it would follow that if Yom Kippur preceded Rosh Hashana that we could be properly judged as well as be prepared for the judgment. How can we be judged to be a tzadik on Rosh Hashana when we have so much spiritual filth that we need to cleanse ourselves? A related question is the well known gemora (Kiddushin 49b) that if a wicked man betroths a woman on the condition that he is a tzadik – that there is a sofek that the marriage was valid. But the same queston occurs there. How could he be a tzadik without cleansing himself of all his sins?
The answer is that being a tzadik is not dependent on being cleansed of sin. It is an attitude that can be acquired in an instant. Becoming a tzadik and doing teshuva are two separate processes. A person who becomes a tzadik still needs to cleanse himself. However the cleaning up of the filth is a separate task and doesn’t interfere with being a tzadik. Thus on Rosh Hashana if we decide to be a tzadik then we are in fact a tzadik but the task of cleansing can be left over to the 10 Days of Repentance and Yom Kippur. The main issue is what we want to be – not how clear of sins we are. Therefore we first have the day of making a decision – which is the Day of Judgment – not the day of cleansing which is Yom Kippur.
For me it is only enough to avoid instantly becoming one of those 80 tzaddikim because of whom the world is never at rest, whether on RH or any other day!
Yasher koiach for this and a gut gebensched yohr!
Joseph: thank you for sharing this!
Another vort related to this topic… Here’s from the Slonim Rebba:
– The t’fillos for Rosh Hashona (excluding added piyutim) are all being mamlich Hashem and they “lose sight” of the fact that Rosh Hashona is also yom din. Why?
– Rosh Hashona is a happy day. If it’s a yom din, why aren’t we fasting? Why aren’t we klopping al cheit?
– Why does Rosh Hashona come before Yom Kippur? (see Joseph’s post above for the full breadth of this question).
Moshol: A king creates a city for the sole purpose of having the city dwellers and everything in the city serve him. Time goes by and things start to decline; the dwellers forget why the city was created.
The king arrives and sees everything is just right…
The Slonim Rebba also asks the following in connection to above questions: It says that all creations are being judged, including malochim. How can malochim be judged if they only do ratzon Hashem, are created by our actions etc.?
areivim: excellent peice! shkoyach & thank you for sharing it!