Skip to main content

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.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…