Harry Zeitlin
Harry Zeitlin
Grateful Every Day, Modeh Ani Lefanecha!

Judgment

At the end of the day, it seems to me that unless we’ve intentionally tried to live the most selfish and destructive lives we can, we shouldn’t fear, but rather should welcome the upcoming Yom HaDin, Day of Judgement, Rosh Hashana. Likewise, even though our own individual values are a work-in-progress, the word and concept “Judgemental” need not be condemned as small-minded, selfish and vindictive. Especially during this time in the Jewish Calendar, we praise, rather than curse, God as The Almighty Judge.

Not every value-system is equal, nor are all the actions we might choose to take. The Mei HaShiloach teaches us deep insights in his comments to Parshat Shoftim. He compares the opening of this parsha, “Shoftim v’Shotrim Titeyn L’cha B’Chol Sha’arecha…..V’Shaftu Et HaAm Mishpat Tzedek” (Appoint for yourselves Judges and Magistrates in all the Gates of Your Dwellings….And They will Govern the Nation with Justice), with a verse from Isaiah, 33:22, (Ki) Hashem Shofteinu, Hashem M’chakakeynu, Hashem Malkeinu, Hu Yoshienu (Because Hashem is our Judge, Hashem is our Decreer, Hashem is our King, He will redeem us).

God is our Judge, he explains, that He will shine into the mind of Man so we will understand which of the paths (choice) before us is best, even when our heart is not yet prepared to follow God’s Will. Next, that God will engrave (the word, חק, Chok is the root of both Decree and Engrave) the passionate desire in man’s heart so we will begin to ask for help and advice just how to find in the Torah (just exactly how each of us, as individuals, will perform the mitzvot in that unique way that sings to our unique Neshama, soul), so that we will understand that there is no other path to reach this goal–it’s all contained within Torah. 

God will lead (lamedchof, the final two letters of the root mem-lamed-chof, מלך, is also the root for לך, lech, to walk) Man’s will to match up with The Divine Will, even without our being aware of the manipulation–in the beginning we will think that we’ve reached this level of wisdom on our own. Eventually, I’ll  realize that I was unable to evaluate even the superficial without the deeper structure of Torah (in all its depths).

Finally, in a state of Ultimate Redemption, I will realize that all this seeming manipulation (including all the difficulties we go through in life which nudge us from side to side, always correcting our course) is entirely for our benefit. That no matter how difficult the path, the pain and loss along the way, Sof Sof, at the very end of the day, it’s all been to bring us to the pinnacle of our potentials.

Perhaps this is the deepest expression of faith–that rather than evaluating and critiquing step-by-step, we have some trust the The Creator knows what He is doing, that He, indeed, Created the Heavens and the Earth and everything within them, including (primarily) us, in order to benefit a being “outside” (as it were) of Himself.

Shabbat Shalom

About the Author
After almost 30 years, Harry Zeitlin returned home to Jerusalem! Growing up in Denver, CO, he began Torah studies at an early age. He also had the privilege of knowing and studying with Rabbi Shloime Twerski zt"l. He graduated from Yale College (BA 1974) with an independent degree in communications, theory-and-practice, focusing on filmmaking and linguistics. Harry had a 45+ year career as a professional artist (photography, to which he is just now returning!) and has played guitar for more than 50 years, in addition to his 30+ years as an orthodox rabbi teaching Torah across the denominational spectrum. He lived in Israel from 1982 - 1989 and returned in 2016. I'M BACK! Grateful every day! Follow his spiritual adventures. He is always available to speak, teach, present a Shabbaton or other workshop. ......or to serenade your group with his guitar.
Related Topics
Related Posts
Comments