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Malchuyot: A Drash for Rosh Hashanah By Evan Prosserman, September 11, 2018

17/09/2018 02:55:30 PM


One of the three major themes of Rosh Hashanah is Malchuyot. It proclaims God as sovereign over the world. He is the creator with absolute power and a source of everything. During the service we reaffirm this belief.


The words on Malchuyot from our Mahzor may roll off your tongue easily. To someone like me, who is paying attention for the first time, the concept is overwhelming. Essentially Malchuyot means “God is everything.” God is past, present and future. He created every material on this earth and beyond. God brings life and death. God has complete control. Does that mean we have no control over anything? Where do we stand in this world? This is an unsettling question for a teenager who is learning to assert his independence and to forge a place in this world.


Sometimes coming up with an answer to a big question is easier if we bring it down to our own little world. My little world is skating. Even though it is the biggest part of my life, I say “little” because I am sure to most of you skating is just an afterthought every four years, during the winter Olympics.


So this little world of mine consists of ice, the coach and me. My coach is as ‘old school’ as they come. Some mornings I just have to take two steps onto the ice and he is already yelling at me incoherently. There’s no time to even think of what I could’ve possibly done wrong in those first two steps because his incoherent outburst is immediately followed by his much clearer command,

“Skate!!!” Simple right?


Well, just one lap around the rink and he is on his feet ready to pounce again. “Noooo!” he says. I muster every ounce of willpower in my body to stop myself from rolling my eyes. Next few laps of stroking, the coach is literally at my heels micro-adjusting my every move, tug here and poke there. And that’s just the first five minutes of a two hour session and not the worst five minutes



There are times when I am left to wonder “what on earth does he want from me?” I am sure I am doing everything he wants me to do, yet he says I am “not doing it right.” But if I ask him to clarify he says I am talking back and I should just do as he says. But Sensei, what if I don’t understand you, let alone the reason why?


My coach is also the choreographer of my solos and the designer of my skating outfits. Choreography is a merging of technical elements such as jumps, spins and step sequence with musicality and artistry. When it all comes together, well, it can be magical.


We would choose the music together. We then take the edited piece to the ice. As he listens to the music he skates around and I dutifully follow, like a duckling following his parent. He would stop abruptly at various points and tell me to do this or that . After about 3 days, we would have one of our solos choreographed. I love what he creates. From what part of his being does he

create something so beautiful, sometimes even playful?


Throughout the year, he would show me how he wants me to move and the direction he wants me to go. We would skate together so I could try to copy him. So often we hear comments from people watching our practice of how much we skate alike. That makes me happy because I want to show off his creation and I would like to skate like him.


Through my little world I can relate to the bigger concept of Malchuyot. My coach rules my world; he creates beauty and magic for me to show the bigger world. I try to skate like him just like we strive to be good, because we are created in the image of God.


We know God is the sovereign but it is hard for us to be sustained by knowledge alone. Knowledge doesn’t always mean acceptance. I know I have to obey my coach because he is obviously better and more experienced than I am. But that knowledge doesn’t make my every day practice any easier. I still struggle with the one sided nature of our relationship. Sometimes I

disagree with him and sometimes I just don’t understand him. Are we even in on this together?


On particularly bad days I have a hard time taking my skates off through my teary vision. Then mom says, “Evan, this is your life. You can choose whether to skate or not. You can choose who you want to be coached by. Nothing is forced on you.”


We are all free to believe in what we want to believe in. But today, we all chose to be here to celebrate Rosh Hashanah. Most of us here believe that God is always right and we strive to be good trying to reflect his image on ourselves. So often we fall short, just like one of my faceplants on ice. But even with all our shortcomings, we sometimes pull off something that we can be really proud of.


My coach is so much more knowledgeable and experienced than I am. I’m sure most of the time he is right. I know this because I am a better skater now than I was before he became my coach. He creates beautiful choreography that brings the best out of me. I might not always understand him or understand the purpose of the things he tells me to do, but he hasn’t steered me wrong yet. So the evidence tells me that I’m doing okay and I’m with the right coach. With that said, logic of evidence is not always why we choose one’s coach or choose to follow a faith.


My coach is an ISU technical specialist who travels the world judging big competitions. I remember one day he had to miss my own competition because he had to be at the World Championship in Taiwan. So there I was, standing by the boards alone, waiting to go on the ice, feeling jittery without him. Then, unexpectedly, my cell went “DING!” I looked at it and there was a message: “Evan. 8 am in Ontario. I think that you are going to skate soon. I will be thinking of you.


A message from halfway around the world. Just when I needed it most. I knew I wasn’t alone. My coach may not have been by my side literally, but I could feel his presence. And that gave me strength.


Just as I accept my relationship with my coach the way it is, maybe all we need is to accept God as sovereign, and trust that he or she is always by our side, thinking of us with our best interest at heart.


It would be nice if we could communicate with God directly through email. But I guess the next best thing is to come to synagogue every so often…

...and maybe not just on High Holidays!


Shana Tova

Thu, 23 May 2024 15 Iyar 5784