Can the Rav offer some guidance on what our main thoughts should be throughout the day and the tefillos on Rosh HaShanah? And, is it proper if one davens for personal requests on Rosh HaShanah?
(1)”Hayom Haras Olam” – Rosh HaShanah is the day when the primary creation, the human being, was created.
(2) Who created all of this? It is the Blessed One, Whom there is none other besides.
(3) For what did He create it all for? What is the purpose of it all? So that we become close to Hashem, and thereby reveal Hashem in His creation. This is the intention behind the concept of “Malchiyos” on Rosh HaShanah [declaring Hashem’s dominion over the entire Creation.]
(4) The intention behind “Zichronos” on Rosh HaShanah is that one should try as much as he can to remember all of the different deeds he committed this year.
(5) The intention behind “Shofaros” is that one should improve his deeds, by doing complete repentance. Included in this is for one to clarify his aspirations and his purpose in life, and to take upon oneself a resolution for the coming year.
“Rosh HaShanah” contains the word “rosh”, “head”, from the word “raishis”, the beginning point. On this day, a new start is revealed. It is the revelation of a beginning point. Therefore a person should connect himself to the “beginning point” of the soul, which is called peshitus, the “simple point” of the soul. As a hint, the Gemara says that the more pashut (smoother) a shofar is, the better the shofar is. From connecting to peshitus, a person becomes connected to HaKadosh Baruch Hu, amidst this peshitus-simplicity. Therefore, the inner avodah on this day is to become connected, in the depths of one’s soul, to a simple sense of the Creator, which is above all reasoning and logic.
One needs to progress and regress, back and forth, between two different states [as follows]. For part of the time, one should be connected with this simplicity, by “running” towards the Creator with simplicity. For the other part of one’s time, one should retreat back into his thoughts, by thinking of the fact that Rosh HaShanah is the day when the world was created, and that there is a Creator, and that He created it for a purpose, which is for His creations to accept upon themselves His dominion. One should also remember his deeds and repent over them, and to once again accept Hashem’s rule over him.
It is customary to recite the piyutim (liturgies), of which a large part describes the greatness of the Creator. When one’s soul feels opened to this, one can feel a pleasure in reflecting on the Creator’s greatness, verbally expressing this greatness with words of praise to the Creator. This is an additional part of the closeness to Hashem which is revealed on this day. There is a way of connecting to Hashem on this day though simplicity, as explained earlier, by thinking of the One who created the world, and there is also a way of connecting to Hashem on this day by speaking of His greatness, which is revealed through His creations. This is the implication of HaYom Haras Olam, on this day the world was created.
PART 4 [REGARDING PERSONAL REQUESTS]:
Each person should act according to his current level. If one is at the level in which he feels a need to daven for personal requests on Rosh HaShanah, than it is proper for him to do so. This, however, should only be done in addition to what was said earlier, because davening for personal requests should not become the main part of Rosh HaShanah.