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  • Writer's pictureRabbi David Paskin

Day of Judgement

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From Rabbi David

Earlier this week I popped in on a really interesting conversation with our Club Sinai leaders, Lisa and Arnesa. They were talking about Yom Kippur and what its really all about.

On the one hand - if you look at the liturgy and the traditional teachings for Yom Kippur you'll learn that Yom Kippur is a day on which God judges each of us and determines whether we will live or die that year.

For many modern Jews this traditional idea of God's judgement seems antiquated. In its place, we have come to think that Yom Kippur isn't about some external judgement from God but rather - internal judgement from ourselves, of ourselves.

If I'm being honest I'm not sure which of these scares me more: God judging me or me judging me. Sure God is all-powerful and all-knowing and I can't sneak anything past God; but with God, at least I know I'll get a fair shake. If I am responsible for my own judgement one of two things is likely to happen: Either I will go too easy on myself or I'll be too hard on myself. I'm also pretty sure that I will be more quick to judge myself on the silly things rather than what really matters.

There is one judging that I know I want to stay away from. I'll be okay if God judges me or if I judge myself this Yom Kippur but when I start judging other people or other people start judging me - then I know I'm in trouble.

In Pirkei Avot (Ethics of our Fathers) 2:4 we learn:

הִלֵּל אוֹמֵר... וְאַל תָּדִין אֶת חֲבֵרְךָ עַד שֶׁתַּגִּיעַ לִמְקוֹמוֹ...

Hillel said: ... Do not judge your fellow until you have reached his or her place...

And since we can never truly stand in another's shoes; never really understand what another person is going through - we have no right to be judgmental of others.

Whether you believe in God above or God within - let's focus our energies this Yom Kippur on judging ourselves for the sake of becoming our best selves.

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