Speaking of Judgment….

The goal of this blog is for wiser table conversation — please share.

“Gavel” sculpture by Andrew Scott, Columbus

In the spirit of Ben Zoma’s four life-changing questions last week, here’s another set of Talmudic questions – the six questions they ask you after you die.

People like to say that Judaism focuses more on this world than the next.

Maybe that’s exactly the point of this Talmudic teaching – to help us up our game in this world, in this short lifetime that we have on this planet.

Before reading the questions, try asking everyone at the table to guess what questions a person is asked as he or she arrives at the next world.

Here’s the passage (Tractate Shabbat 31a):

Said Rava, at the time that a person is brought to Judgment, they say to him:

1. Were you 100 percent strictly honest in every business dealing?
2. Did you schedule time on your calendar for daily or weekly or at least monthly Torah study?
3. Did you get involved with the next generation (raising or educating children)?
4. Were you optimistic about humanity?
5. Did you study intelligently?
6. Did you study deeply?

Each of these could be a conversation topic in its own right!

But it seems to me that the order of Rava’s questions is also instructive.

The first and foremost question is how honest you were when it came to handling money. What does that say about a person?
Yet half or more of the questions are about how seriously you pursued or increased wisdom.
What does that say about a person?
What do you think?
About the Author
Rabbi Alexander Seinfeld PhD is the Executive Director of Jewish Spiritual Literacy, Inc (, a nonprofit organization dedicated to revitalizing Jewish education at all levels. He is the author of Body & Soul: The Torah Path to Health, Fitness and a Holy LIfe; The Art of Amazement (available in Hebrew as Omanut Ha’Hitpa’alut); and the Amazing Jewish Fact-a-Day Calendar iPhone app. His weekly Torah Health podcast may be heard on