Abraham Lincoln said that you can fool some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. His aphorism lets us know that while the emes can be successfully suppressed and subverted beyond recognition, it can’t be entirely eradicated.
This observation has stood the test of time for over one hundred and fifty years, despite the Left’s best efforts to prove it wrong, because it speaks to that spark of emes that is embedded in every human being, and as such it is very much connected to Rosh HaShana.
A person can spend his entire existence in a society like the old Soviet Union, in which emes and sheker have been inverted. In such a place every word in the media, everything taught in the schools, every pronouncement of the government, and every societal value are all sheker. And yet, if a shtick emes, in whatever form, creeps in from the outside world, be it even once in a lifetime, it will more likely than not be recognized for what it is.
Such is the power of emes.
One can “successfully” run from the emes most of the year but not the whole year, because when the month of Elul comes a knocking at his door, a rational individual understands intuitively that he can no longer hide. After all, with the Sifrei Chaim and Sifrei Mahves opened to his page, where exactly would he seek shelter?
Shiras Devorah, after reprising the death of the Canaanite general, Sisera, by the hand of Yael, then shifts to the image of Sisera’s mother waiting for Sisera to return home from the battle. In the course of her vigil she gives out one hundred cries, and Tosfos in Mesechta Rosh Hashana quotes the Chazal that says that we blow one hundred kolos (sounds) with the shofar on Rosh HaShana for those one hundred cries:
Through the window she gazed; Sisera’s mother peered through the window. “Why is his chariot delayed in coming? Why are the hoofbeats of his carriages so late?” The wisest of her ladies answer her, and she, too, offers herself responses. “Are they not finding [and] dividing the loot? A comely [captive], two comely [captives], for every man; booty of colored garments for Sisera, booty of colored embroidery, colored, doubly embroidered garments for the necks of the looters.”
These possukim reveal to us that Sisera’s mother is worried about her son’s fate, but that her friends and she herself make up excuses to explain away the delay of Sisera’s return.
Finally the truth sinks in that Sisera is not coming home.
Rabbi Shalom Rosner tells us that Rosh HaShana is about when all of the rationales in our life fall away and the emes hits us in the face. We start out with all kinds of excuses: I can’t do this or that, I’m too busy, this is not who I really am, this is not my derech etc. We can pretty much fool ourselves most of the time, but not all of the time. Especially not this time of the year.
We’re all looking out the “window” to a wishful thinking world of our own creation until, poof, we finally see ourselves, and at that point all our excuses dissipate like the morning mist and all that’s left is the emes.