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Thought for the Day: The Six First Questions When Going for Final Judgement

I worked as the physicist in radiation oncology department White Memorial Hospital (small hospital in Los Angeles) for about a year when I first entered the work force.  My job was mostly to check treatment plans, calibrate the equipment, educate the staff on radiation safety, and (all too occasionally) develop radiation treatment plans for patients.  We had this ancient (late 60s vintage; no keyboard, no screen, just some switches and lights on the front) treatment planning system.  How antiquated was it?  If your phone were luxury liner, our treatment planning system was leaky dinghy with a 10 hp outboard motor.  I thought we should upgrade.  I was able to get a 15 minute appointment with the head administrator of the hospital.  I spent hours preparing.  I got quotes for different systems, all the tradeoffs, and I had a solid recommendation for something that would suit our needs for a very modest price.  I walked in, sat down, thanked him for his time, and told him what I had.  He asked, "How will this make us more money?"  I stared blankly; I was not at all prepared for that question.  I stammered, "We can give our patients better care."  He repeated his question.  Meeting over.

I learned two things from that encounter.  First, a hospital is not a health care facility that tries to make money, it is a  business that sells health care.  Second, and more to the point for now: it is a very good idea to know what questions you are going to need to answer when preparing for a big presentation.

Chazal describe this world as a foyer to the main banquet hall.  We are here preparing for entry to that banquet.  On entry, Chazal tell us, we will be asked the following six questions (Shabbos 31a):
  1. Did you conduct yourself in business honestly and faithfully?
  2. Did you set fixed times for Torah study?
  3. Were you involved with helping to populate the world?  (See Maharsha, who includes helping make shiduchim for orphans and such who have trouble finding and being found.)
  4. Did you wait expectantly for the mashiach?  (Not like a demanding four year old in the back seat chanting "When are we going to be there??".  Rather, as when preparing for the arrival of an important guest; everything must be in order, and there is so little time.)
  5. Did you delve into the details of Torah law and wisdom?
  6. Did you work to extend your understanding from your current knowledge?
Now you know.  Oh, and you should also know that if it isn't done with appropriate reverence and appreciation for HaShem, it would be better if you had never come into this world in the first place. Now you can prepare properly.  You're welcome.

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