Wednesday 8 September 2010

A Question of Balance

Tonight at sunset, something awesome will happen. According to the Jewish Lubavitch Chabad sect, God will “recode the Universe”.

In less esoteric terms, the Jewish New Year of 5771 will commences when the sun sets this evening. According to the Jewish calendar, God created the world 5770 years ago. The Talmud says that the world is to last for 6,000 years. The first 2,000 years were years of desolation after which the Torah flourished for 2,000 years after the Law was transmitted to Israel at Sinai. The last two millennia of world history were to be the Messianic Age. According to the Jewish system of calculation, Messiah should have appeared 1,771 years ago!

But coming back to this evening, as we stand on the threshold of the new year, all the deeds you have committed in the last year will be weighed in the balances of heaven. According to Rabbi Ahron Lopianski on, “Rosh Hashana is a day of judgment on who will enter this most exclusive club of eternity along with which deeds, and what is to be discarded.”

If you are judged by God to be perfectly righteous you will be inscribed in the “Book of Life” thus being admitted to Rabbi Lopianski’s “exclusive club”; if you did nothing good in the last twelve months but only evil, you will be inscribed for death. The good news, if you are one of the “intermediate” class, having done a fair amount of both god and bad in the last year, you have ten days till Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement to tip the celestial balances in your favour. This can be done through acts of tzedaka, or righteousness, such as giving to charity. You should also seek to make amends with anyone you have wronged and give attention to study of the holy books.

Ten days to tip the balances of heaven in my favour? I would need a whole lot longer than that. The tragedy of Judaism is that it has become like the religions of the nations; it is a religion of personal merit. God forgives if we prove worthy of his forgiveness.

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