Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Rosh Hashannah: when HaShem judges everyone

Our Heritage teaches us that Rosh Hashannah, the Jewish New Year celebration, is unique. It’s the time for silent introspection, repentance, prayer and joy. It's the time each year when HaShem (our G-d) judges us.

On these two days of prayer, we pass before our G-d as sheep pass before the shepherd. As we pass before Him, He looks at each of us. He judges us.

Through this judgment, our fate for the coming year is determined: who will live, who will die, who will be at peace, who will be troubled, who will be safe, who will be at risk, etc.

That’s a simplified look at the Rosh Hashanna process. But it tells you the basics.

This year, our two-day Rosh Hashannah Holiday begins in a matter of hours. It begins tonight, Wednesday, September 24, 2014.

Are you ready to be judged?

Since a judgment is being prepared for each of us, it’s appropriate to become introspective. It’s appropriate to do an accounting of all we have done this past year.

It’s appropriate to think about our actions. After all, we’ve got to accept responsibility. We started the year with hopes and plans. Some may have added ‘resolutions’. Now we must account for those plans, hopes and resolutions.

That’s Rosh Hashanna. It’s the time for our annual ‘performance review’.

On one level, that’s what Judaism is all about—accepting responsibility for our actions. That’s why it’s appropriate that, as Rosh Hashannah approaches, we should ask ourselves, how did we do this year?

Were we as honest as we should have been? Did we treat our loved ones with love? Did we follow our mitzvot (commandments) as thoroughly as we should have?

There are many things for which we will be judged. In our Rosh Hashanna prayers, we talk about ourselves. We get specific. We confess our sins. We accept HaShem’s Kingship over us.

Our prayers reveal that we have many reasons to ask HaShem for His Mercy. On Rosh Hashannah, we have many opportunities to ask Him for that Mercy.

But Rosh Hashannah is also about a different kind of judgment. It’s not just individuals who are judged. Our Heritage teaches us that, on Rosh Hashannah, HaShem also judges the nations of the world (Avodah Zara, 2b).

Since the nations are to be judged, it’s appropriate to become introspective. It’s appropriate to do an accounting.

It’s appropriate to review what actions the nations have taken during this past year.

After all, they must accept responsibility for their actions. Like us, they must prepare to stand before HaShem.

To prepare for—and understand—how nations will be judged, it’s correct for us to ask, how did the nations do this year?

Were they as honest as they could have been? Did they treat HaShem with respect? Did they treat HaShem’s Treasure—Israel—with respect?

The United Nations (UN) demonized Israel. It didn’t simply condemn Israel. It accused HaShem’s beloved of war crimes. It sought to criminalize Israel. It condemned Israel ‘in the harshest manner’ possible.

The European Union (EU) showed nothing but scorn for HaShem’s Treasure. The EU didn’t just ignore Israel’s claim over the land of Israel. It told Israel it was losing its patience over Israel’s apparent refusal to give it away to those who hate HaShem.

The United States (US) claimed it was Israel’s best ally ever. It told Israel it would ‘always protect your back’. Then it tried to force Israel to give away HaShem’s Gift (the Land). It even threatened a third Intifada if Israel didn’t comply.

When Israel went to war against those who are committed to destroying Israel—HaShem’s Treasure—the US cut off some of the war supplies Israel had asked to receive. The US—after confirming that it’s Israel’s greatest ally ever--criticized Israel for killing human shields. The US ignored those who deliberately, cynically and illegally used those human shields to attempt to protect legitimate and legal military targets. The US pressured Israel to accept a cease fire before Israel could extinguish the enemy’s ability to attack it, HaShem’s Chosen.

This past year, the Arab nations closest to Israel have demonized and dehumanized Israel and its Jews. Arabs attacked Israel. They kidnapped and murdered Jews. They committed crimes against humanity—and then worked hard to have Israel criminalized for those crimes.

On Rosh Hashannah, HaShem (our G-d) judges everyone. He judges Mankind. He judges the nations.

He has recorded all that we—and the nations—have done.

Nothing has been left out. Nothing has been overlooked. Nothing has been deleted.

HaShem (the G-d of Israel) has a Jewish Story He wants you to see. Rosh Hashannah is part of that Story. Our repentance is part of that Story. The nations of the world are part of that Story.

Stay tuned. This Story is just beginning.





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