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Thought for the Day: Yom HaDin -- Knowing Who You Are

There is a famous question: Why does the Day of Judgement come before the Day of Atonement?  Wouldn't it be better to first achieve atonement, and then go to court?  Surely things would go better for you.  Moreover, wouldn't is make a lot more sense to be judged at the end of the year for last year's mistakes rather than the  beginning of the year when I haven't made any (ok, haven't made many) mistakes yet?  Moreover, do I really need a court trial to find out if I am guilty?  If that were the intent of Rosh HaShana, we would have the shortest services in history.  Everyone would walk into shul, say "ashamnu" (we are guilty), everyone would answer "amein"; then we'd go home to have our last meal before being executed.  Yet, on Rosh HaShana, we don't mention guilt or even sin at all.  Instead we prepare for the day with a haircut, put on are finest clothes, proclaim HaShem our King, and enjoy festive meals.  Sounds more like having a personal audience with the King instead of going to court.

In fact; it is. Rosh HaShana is two days of living up to what we really are: members of the Royal family and living in the Palace.  We spend all our time for two days in avodas HaShem and constantly proclaiming that HaShem is our King.  Not a ruler who we have to obey, but our beloved King who we are honored to serve.  Some people have the beautiful minhag to say all of sefer t'hillim to express every possible emotion on this most exalted of days.  The seven days after Rosh HaShana are spent in critical examination of ourselves.  Not to beat ourselves up over past indiscretions, but to have an accurate appraisal of the raw material we have available.  It is an established custom to keep some extra stringencies during this week to help remind us and keep us focused.  Then comes Yom Kippur, when we are so completely engaged in making our road map for the year that we forgo even eating.  Finally, n'ila -- which culminates in consciously turning ourselves to the nuts and bolts of executing our plan of action for the year to build ourselves into that vision we created on Rosh HaShana.

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