Getting Ready to Coronate Hashem as King
and be Written and Sealed for a Good Sweet Year!
By Rabbi Shimon Raichik
Every year before Rosh Hashana there is a custom to write a letter called a “Pan” (an acronym for the words Pidyon Nefesh) to the Rebbe. We write our name and our mother’s name and we ask the Rebbe to awaken mercy for us on high. This is similar to the custom found in Shulchan Aruch to go to kivrei Tzaddikim to ask for their assistance before Rosh Hashana.
The first time I wrote a Pan to the Rebbe was when I was 13 ½ years old. I sat with my father upstairs in the small shul in 770. I wasn’t exactly sure what to do so my father helped me start writing the Pan. He had me write three things to ask the Rebbe for help in accomplishing. 1. To be mekabel, to accept the yoke of Hashem’s Kingship. 2. To become aroused with a true spirit of teshuvah. 3. To have a kesiva v’chasima tova l’shana tovah u’meshuka. That was it, just those requests and nothing more, other than to sign my name.
Later on when I started learning chassidus I realized that these three requests encompass the entire Rosh Hashana.
The entire davening in the machzor has one theme with a clear focus; the coronation of Hashem as King over the entire world in general and us in particular. The theme of receiving Hashem as King is the purpose of the pasukim of Malchios, Zichronos and Shofros.
The goal is to be able to be a servant of Hashem and be ready to do whatever He needs. It doesn’t just mean to do one thing here and another there rather to fully accept the responsibility of the yoke of His kingship in everything we do, 24/7 with great simcha. This is reflected in the all the Tefillos of Rosh Hashana.
In order to get into this avodah of accepting Hashem’s Kingship properly we need to first do teshuva. In order to awaken our neshama to do teshuva, to desire to be truly close to Hashem and to feel Elokus, we need the avodah of the Shofar. This is the crying out of the neshama, calling Father Father!, I am returning to You. I want to be close to You, You are our King.
Then we ask for the good outcome that we can see, that we should be written and sealed in the physical as well as the spiritual for a shana tovah u’mesukah. We pray not only that Hashem should bless us with our physical needs but that it should be sweet as well. What does this mean? Everything that comes from Hashem is already good; no evil comes from above. What a sweet year means is that we should experience that good, that it should also be good and sweet from our perspective as well. I later realized that these three lines that my father taught me in writing the Pan encompass the entire avodah and the tefillos of Rosh Hashana.
In the Avinu Malkeinu prayer that we sing on Rosh Hashana we tell Hashem that He is our one and only King. We pray to accept Hashem’s Kingship with the full and complete revelation of Moshiach when Hashem will be accepted as King by everyone over the entire world.
A Good Shabbos. A Kesiva vChasima Tova L’Shana Tova uMesuka