Meeting the Queen

September 9, 2018 by  
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Imagine you just received a Royal invitation from her Majesty Queen Elizabeth to a one on one engagement at Buckingham Palace. Your first reaction is total excitement you notify your wife, your kids your extended family and friends….writes Rabbi Eli Schlanger.

Rabbi Eli Schlanger

A day passes, and it hits you I AM MEETING THE QUEEN. The first thing you do is GOOGLE “meeting the queen” “how to act in the queen’s presence?” what is the protocol in the presence of her majesty the queen?”

In my google search a BBC article came up, firstly mocking the famous people who miserably failed to adhere to protocol such as Donald Trump turning his back to the Queen, Barack Obama turning a toast into a speech (apparently against the rules), Michelle Obama Putting her arm around her, and In 2000, John Howard also appeared to have put his arm around the Queen, but that was as nothing compared the 24th Prime Minister of Australia Paul Keating when he put his arm around the Queen during her 1992 tour of Australia and was dubbed “the Lizard of Oz”.

After this list of mishaps, I read with wonder the list of protocols required when meeting the Queen, I found amazing resemblances between those of the palace and to what we find in Jewish law regarding the way we perform in the presence of G-d in or out of a Synagogue. Here a few examples:

  • Curtsey or bow (the head only). We seem to be doing lots of this in Synagogue.
  • Use the right greetings. Your Majesty and subsequently Ma’am. Oh, our prayers are full of the most colorful greeting before and after we reference g-ds name.
  • Be early. Guests should arrive before a royal. Never leave an event before the royal personage. This is a clear law in the code of Jewish Law to arrive in Synagogue first and to try to leave last.
  • Don’t Turn your back on Her Majesty – it is considered rude. This is also another law when the Torah is out, one should not turn their backs to it. Or another example is when we walk backward by the Kotel in Jerusalem.

Getting back to my invitation to see the queen, after studying diligently the protocols and etiquette, my mind then leads me to my wardrobe, wait nothing in here is befitting I must immediately have a suit made in her honor a Shirt, a tie, cufflinks, shoes. I must look my best.

As it gets closer and closer to the date, nervous, excited, its kind of hard to think about anything else… comes a week before I book in an appointment with the hairdresser the nail salon. Everything needs to be at level of perfection and excellence.

The day has arrived, a fragrant bath my wife and children making sure my suit and tie – spick and span. I’M READY!

I’m feeling UBER BLACK this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and its got to be right, its got to be perfect. My arrival at the palace, I’m greeted by two royal guards who lead me to gates where my identity and appearance is thoroughly investigated, I’m then cleared for entry, I’m following the guards into the palace, my feelings at this point are nerves, will she recognize my efforts? will she even be there? Will she greet me with warmth? There’s also CONFIDENCE, I have done everything in my power to prepare for this day, this moment. As I’m led through the magnificent corridors of the palace so many thoughts and feelings are running through my entire body including the thought of running away before it’s too late but again, I’m confident I’m ready for this.

I arrive at these awesome two big doors, the guards turn to me and Say Eli this is it, we have no permission to enter, from this point on you are on your own. My heart shrivels, is this for real?! The doors are slowly opened, there she is right in front of me Her majesty the queen is sitting in all her glory crowned, sitting on her throne, seconds later (what seems to be hours) she motions me to step inside and approach. There’s no going back now. I approach, she starts small talk and I cautiously reply small talk then turns into a conversation.  All my feelings turn into the sensation of royalty, I’m feeling that I belong, I think I can do this again. After the queen gets to know me for a while and after it is obvious that I prepared for this moment spiritually, mentally and physically she’s impressed, she invites me to join the Royals for a cocktail party. I find myself then mingling with the Royals and with her majesty herself. Wow, what a privilege. What an extraordinary day, I am royal.

The month of Elul arrives every Jew no matter who you are, no matter how low you have fallen, you just received a golden ticket to meet one on one with the almighty g-d king of the universe the master of heaven and earth. The feelings are overwhelming. But how do I dare stand before you, my master, in my dirty clothing, how can I appear before you when I’m spiritually impure and mentally out of tune with my g-d, my source of life.

Your excitement turns into nerves and willingness to fix everything as fast as possible. Tehuvah (repentance) is step number one, the first Chabad Rebbe knows as the Alter Rebbe describes the process of Teshuvah, and it’s easier than you think, it’s a two-step process, 1. Regret for all the misdoings which leads to a two-minute sadness (not longer, as that may result to depression which is forbidden). 2. New resolutions to make an honest promise to g-d that you will not repeat those actions or inactions ever again.

Jewish law also describes the physical aspect of preparing for the high holidays, cooking cleaning, haircuts, cutting nails, purchasing new clothing befitting meeting a king – the king of all kings.

After these preparations we are nervous, we are excited, but we are confident.

Rosh Hashanna the day of Judgment arrives, we have entered the royal palace. We are edgy, we say in the prayer, who will live and who will die, who will be healthy and who won’t, who will be rich and who will be poor. the days following called the 10 days of Teshuvah (repentance) we are led through the different corridors with feelings of uncertainty. Slowly we approach towards the holiday of Yom Kippur – the chamber of g-d.

The moment arrives, the doors of heaven are opened before us, we find ourselves being led into synagogue we are spiritually naked before our creator.  The feelings of fear and love turn into a sense of connection and feelings of royalty, we open a prayer-book and read a relatable paragraph and we connect, small talk turns into lengthy conversations, we can feel his presence and he ours. G-D recognizes you, you have made the efforts of preparing for tis day, you haven’t rocked up in a (spiritual or physical) t-shirt and jeans. You showed up in the best clothing and intentions you are worthy of an intimate relationship with G-D. you are then granted the opportunity to ask and converse about your personal needs and are surly granted them.

You are also invited to join the royals for a party, soon after Yom Kippur comes the 8-day holiday of Sukkot, we eat, we drink and eat a lot we celebrate our closeness and bond with G-d and the Royals – holy Ushpizin the presence of the souls of other holy Tzadikim – Royals.

There’s one step further which you won’t get with the Royals. Once we have gone through the entire process of the high holidays we are granted a ticket to the ultimate closeness with G-D, Simchat Torah we are told to pull off a Paul Keating with G-d, to embrace the Torah and dance with it, to connect with on physical level.

The energy of such a powerful experience lasts us a year with blessings for good health and life, with prosperity and happiness, contentment and satisfaction.


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