The time period of the High Holidays, from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur, is also called the 10 days of repentance, since during this time we are judged for the upcoming year. We spend time reflecting on how we performed the past year and repent for our shortcomings. The first two days of the 10 days of repentance are Rosh Hashanah. If you look through the entire Rosh Hashanah service, there is no mention of repentance. The service is about recognizing the kingship of Hashem our G-d. Why then is Rosh Hashanah part of the 10 days of repentance if it seems that our focus during that time is about accepting the kingship of Hashem, not repentance?
The answer can be understood with the following parable: There was once a king that had a very difficult son. His behavior in the palace was not befitting of anyone and certainly not befitting the prince. He was obnoxious and rude, constantly opposing the king and making the life of everyone in the palace miserable. After many warnings, the king did not have any choice so he sent his son away from the palace. Without having a place to go, the prince took some pieces of metal that he found and put them together to make a small hut for himself in the woods. As the winter came in, you can only imagine the poor condition the prince was living in. The wind would blow through the little hut, snow and ice would seep in, and warmth was not achievable. Many of the king’s men tried to convince the king to let the prince come back home, but it was to no avail. The king had made up his mind. The king had one close advisor that felt so badly for the prince. He would visit him every week just to make sure he was still alive. As the condition of the hut was deteriorating, the advisor begged the king to allow the prince back. The king agreed to allow the prince one wish. The advisor quickly went to the prince and told him that his father the king would grant him one wish. After thinking for a moment, the prince pointed to his homemade window and said: “You see that window over there, there is a wind that blows through that window, please ask the king to get me a replacement window.” The advisor couldn’t believe what he just heard. “Why ask to fix your little window? Just ask to come back to the palace and all of your problems will be solved.”
This is true for us as well. On Rosh Hashanah we inaugurate Hashem as our King. That is truly the first step of repentance. We “move back in” to the palace of the King and remember what it means to follow the King and act accordingly. May we all be blessed with the ability to go back into the palace of the King and have a year filled with blessing, success and sweet goodness.