By: Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel
Yom Kippur is a time when we are forced to focus on our mortality. We take inventory of what we have done. We evaluate our ‘spiritual worth.’ Just like Yom Kippur is the day of judgement, so, too, we must prepare ourselves for the ultimate Day of Judgement. And that is what I want to focus on in this article.
We also make use of Yom Kippur to recommit ourselves to leading a life worth living. We recommit to being good people whose lives are filled with meaning. We also want to ensure that we get ourselves the ‘best seats’ in the World to Come.
The Talmud tells us that we will be asked four questions when we one day reach heaven.
The first question is “Have you been honest in your business dealings?“
But make no mistake, it doesn’t merely refer to our honesty in money-related dealings. It also comes to include the questions: “Were you honest in your relationships? Were you a good neighbor? A good husband? A good father? Were you honest and did you give all your endeavors your best effort?”
The next question will be “Did you set aside time for Torah study?”
This too, is a much more loaded question than meets the eye. It comes to include such things as: “Did you pursue education? Did you strengthen your Judaism? Did you seek knowledge or did you prefer ignorance when it came to Torah observance? Did you live by the Torah’s values? Did you teach your children our heritage”?
Then we will be asked: “Did you try to have children?”
This, too, is of course, a loaded question. But it is so much more than that. It also includes: “Did you spend time with your family? Did you treat your wife properly? Did you try to provide for those dependent on you to the best of your ability?”
And finally, there is the question: “Did you look forward to redemption?”
I would suggest that this includes: “Did you work hard to build a better future for yourself and those around you? Did you give up when things weren’t getting tough or did you try, try, and try again? Did you support the State of Israe,l which represents Jewish redemption in our day?”
As we enter Yom Kippur it is these many question that should be on our mind. May we be able to give Him the right answers.