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Sunday, September 16

The Weekly Shtikle - Rosh HaShanah

    The gemara (Rosh HaShanah 18b) quotes the very famous excerpt which sums up Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. R' Keruspedai said: "Three books are opened - those of tzaddikim, resha'im and beinonim. The tzaddikim, the righteous ones are written immediately for life. The resha'im, the wicked one, are written immediately for death. The beinonim, the fence-sitters, the ones in the middle are given until Yom Kippur. If they merit, they are written for life. If not, they are written for death."

    Abudarham poses an interesting question. If the man-in-the-middle does not merit then he has just failed to tip the scales in his favour. Why should they be considered tipped in the other direction? He answers that between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur we have an active duty to repent and do teshuvah. It is a special mitzvah for this time. The beinoni is required to do teshuvah in order to tip the scales in his favour. If he fails to do teshuvah, he has in essence violated the active mitzvah to do teshuvah in this time and therefore, he tips the scales against him.

    The gemara proceeds to quote Beis Shamai's description of an almost identical scenario. However, it is clear (from Tosafos) that this judgement takes place before "techiyas hameisim." Again, we will be divided into these three groups. My Opa, z"l, speaking in the name of his Rebbe, R' Eliyahu Lopian, asks why there would be a need for this judgement. If one is judged after he passes away, what could possibly have changed that they need to be judged again. R' Elya answers that even after a person passes on, the deeds they performed in this world still have lasting effects on the people around them. There is still much more of history to be filled by those people whose lives were affected by the departed during their lifetime. Each year, even the deceased are judged by how their actions shaped the world they left behind. If we follow in the righteous ways of those who have left us, we are not only helping our own cause, we are also helping them to merit a favourable judgement of their own.

Have a Kesivah vaChasimah Tovah!

Eliezer Bulka

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