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Sukkat Shalom B'nei Noach




Pirkei Avot 3:1

עֲקַבְיָא בֶן מַהֲלַלְאֵל אוֹמֵר, הִסְתַּכֵּל בִּשְׁלשָׁה דְבָרִים וְאִי אַתָּה בָא לִידֵי עֲבֵרָה. דַּע מֵאַיִן בָּאתָ, וּלְאָן אַתָּה הוֹלֵךְ, וְלִפְנֵי מִי אַתָּה עָתִיד לִתֵּן דִּין וְחֶשְׁבּוֹן. מֵאַיִן בָּאתָ, מִטִּפָּה סְרוּחָה, וּלְאָן אַתָּה הוֹלֵךְ, לִמְקוֹם עָפָר רִמָּה וְתוֹלֵעָה. וְלִפְנֵי מִי אַתָּה עָתִיד לִתֵּן דִּין וְחֶשְׁבּוֹן, לִפְנֵי מֶלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא

Akabyah ben Mahalalel said: mark well three things and you will not come into the power of sin: know from where you come, and where you are going, and before whom you are destined to give an account and reckoning. From where do you come? From a putrid drop. Where are you going? To a place of dust, of worm and of maggot. Before whom you are destined to give an account and reckoning? Before the King of the kings of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.

During the month of Elul, I started to write works on Pirkei Avot. Elul is the month of preparation for Rosh HaShanah. The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, is also significant for non-Jews.

The Sages said[1]:

On Rosh Hashanah all of mankind pass before Him like sheep -they pass by Him one by one, one after the other, yet He scrutinizes them all with a single glance. Thus, the verse (Psalms 33:15) states: “He created all of their hearts together and understands all of their actions”; G‑d, Who is the Creator, sees all of their hearts together (with a single glance) and understands all of their actions.

The teaching of the sages that each person is judged on Rosh Hashanah does not refer to whether a person will merit Gan Eden and the World to Come if he is worthy, or Gehinnom and eternal destruction if he is unworthy. Rather, man is judged on Rosh Hashanah concerning only this world: whether he is worthy of life and peace, or death and affliction.

The Sages taught: The verse (Psalms 81:5) states: This is the day on which Your works began, a remembrance of the first day. It is a statute for Israel, judgment for the G‑d of Ya’akov. … And concerning the nations, it will be said then: Which for the sword and which for peace, which for famine and which for prosperity. And all beings will then be recounted to be remembered for life or for death.[2]

It is good to realize that we are tiny and small, that we are there only because that is His will.  As we read in Psalm 8

O L-rd, our L-rd,
How majestic is Your name throughout the earth,
You who have covered the heavens with Your splendor!

From the mouths of infants and sucklings
You have founded strength on account of Your foes,
to put an end to enemy and avenger.

When I behold Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
the moon and stars that You set in place,

what is man that You have been mindful of him,
mortal man that You have taken note of him,

but always in the knowledge that

that You have made him little less than divine,
and adorned him with glory and majesty.

Self-reflection and self-evaluation are perfect, but reflecting on mistakes and errors should not paralyze us and make us give up on wanting to improve ourselves. We are created in His image; we can do what He asks of us.

By Angelique Sijbolts


[1] Mishna Rosh HaShanah 1:2:

At four times of the year the world is judged: On Passover judgment is passed concerning grain; on Shavuot concerning fruits that grow on a tree; on Rosh HaShanah, all creatures pass before Him like sheep [benei maron], as it is stated: “He Who fashions their hearts alike, Who considers all their deeds” (Psalms 33:15); and on the festival of Sukkot they are judged concerning water, i.e., the rainfall of the coming year.

[2] Chabad Article: Day of Judgment

See also our other related blogs:

Elul – Rosh HaShanah – A Season of Self-analysis,
Elul and Rosh HaShanah a Month of Reflection
Rosh Hashanah – Measure for Measure?
The Benefit of the Shofar
Selichot Or No Selichot? Thats The Question
Yom Kippur, Repentance, Forgiveness and Noahides
Rosh HaShanah season: prayers & annulment of regretted vows
Yom Kippur, Repentance, Forgiveness and Noahides
Yom Kippur


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