Tosfos (Rosh Hashana 16b) learns that the judgment on Rosh Hashanah concerns Olam Habah and the terms of life and death relate to whether he merits it or not. This opinion is difficult to understand. What difference does it make during his lifetime whether each year he merits Olam Habah or not? The Heavenly Court should rather wait until he dies and then judge him to whether he merits Olam Habah or not for then the judgment can be executed?

We can shed some light into understandingTosfos with the help of the Maharal’s explanation of a passuk in this week’s Parshas Haazinu. The Torah says הצור תמים פעלו כי כל דרכיו משפט אל אמונה ואין עול צדיק וישר הוא.  As Rashi explains: Hashem’s judgment is exact. The tzadikkimbelieve in Him that He will give them reward for their mitzvos in the Next World אל אמונה)) and theresha’eem will receive their reward for theirmitzvos in this world (ואין עול). Hashem is a (צדיק וישר) righteous and straight. The Maharal in his commentary Gur Aryeh asks how can this be called a just judgment when the same mitzvahfulfilled by the Tzadik is to receive Olam Habahyet the rasha gets as his reward materialism from this fleeting world. Is this fair?

He answers that rewards for mitzvos does not only depend upon the production of a mitzvah but also upon the life perspective of the one who fulfills the mitzvah. The tzadik’s ambition in this world is to get as close to Hashem as he possibly can. He learns Torah, works on tikkun hamidos, and forfeits physical pleasures and material acquisitions if they interfere with achieving this goal. Avairos which occasionally occur are not his regular staple of life since he tries his utmost to avoid them. In contrast is the rasha whose top priority is to be Mr. Successful in this world, an ambition which gravitates towards making a lot of money, acquiring many upscale possessions, and experiencing the “good life” whenever available. He invests most of his energies and talents towards this fulfillment while everything else is placed on the back burner and treated secondary to his primary goal. Because his driving focus on this world, he sins more frequently, caused by the lure and constant association to physical pleasures and enjoying the “good life”.  Yes, he still doesmitzvos here and there but only if they do not get in the way of his lifestyle and are not burdensome.

Now let us fit the perspective of each, with the reward and punishment relationship. This world is a non essential world. It is only a corridor to the Next World which is eternal. Therefore when atzaddik fulfills a mitzvah he is thereby manifesting his essence, his primary ambition. His approach to Torah and Mitzvos are taken very seriously and are the major part of his life. Fulfilling them, are part of his essence and therefore it is befitting for him to receive their payback in a world which also shares the primary and essential nature – Olam Habah. The tzaddik’s aveiros are the exceptions to his life’s itinerary and are not part of his essentiality. Therefore it is befitting to punish him in this world which is also not essential but fleeting.

On the other hand, the rasha’s few mitzvos find themselves as an irregularity in his life pattern, the pursuit of a life dedicated to unbridled physical indulgence and pleasures. Therefore it is only befitting for him to receive their reward in the same measure, in the world that is fleeting and secondary, Olam Hazeh the world of trivia. In contrast, the transgressions of the rasha are products from the growth of his essential and primary ambition of life. It is therefore befitting that he should receive his punishment for them in a world that its nature is essential and primary, in the Gehenim of the Next World. In other words the punishment of both the tzaddik and the rashafit the crime just as their rewards fit the good deeds.

We see from the Maharal that it is not enough just to do a mitzvah. One must also consider into which account he is depositing the mitzvah, hisOlam Habah account or Olam Hazeh. It all depends upon which account is more active, and what are his primary and secondary ambitions in life. In short one must define and label himself to whether he is essentially an Olam Habah Yid or anOlam Hazeh Yid which will determine for the sender the address for all his spiritual deposits.

This explanation of the Maharal has a very sobering scary twist to it. Let us take two scenarios one of a person who works most of the day. This Baal Habos looks upon work only as a means to sustain him and his family, to pay tuitions, to fulfill mitzvos beheedur etc and not as an ends. He has no ambition to become wealthy or the envy of his neighbors. His “rush” and highlight of the day is to open a daf gemarrah, attend a Kolel Boker shiur, hear a gut vort, or dochassadim and tzedakah. This lifestyle conveys that his essence is Olam Habah even though his time is spent mostly in Olam Hazeh endeavors.

The second scenario is a fellow who learns for two Sedarim and at night has a small business which he is developing. He can’t wait to get home at night and indulge in his passion, his budding enterprise. Presently, mostly any spare time that he has, he focuses on how he can make his business more lucrative. If his father in law suddenly pulled the plug on his comfortable support, he would gladly drop out of Kollel and put his head and heart full time into his small business so he could make it big. I know that only Hashem could be the judge between the two, but my heart tells me that the Kollel Yungerman is anchored in Olam Hazeh even though he is learning many more hours than the Baal Habos.

Now we can understand Tosfos’ opinion a little better, that the judgment of every Yid on Rosh Hashanah is to whether he will receive Olam Habah or not and at what level. For being labeled every year an Olam Habah Yid, it means that one’s Rewards Program will not be paying for his mitzvos in cheap “chad peh’ami” Olam Hazehmerchandise. It means he can receive specialsiyata dishmaya to deepen his attachment to Hashem as the passuk says רגלי חסידיו ישמור. It also means that there is the possibility of receiving punishment for his aveiros in this world and not in the next, which it is more severe. Being so, the type of year he will experience depends a lot upon the determination of his address of the primary and secondary ambitions.

Do you remember at the end of Ne’eelah how everyone screamed out the Shemah Yisrael,Baruch Shem, and Hashem Hu Haelokim. What we were really proclaiming during those final minutes climaxing the kaparah of Yom Kippur, was “Hashem You are our essence and primary ambition during our lifetime”. We were telling Hashem that all our shortcomings and averos were because we did not have the proper perspective of primary and secondary goals. But now, at the end of Ne’eelah, I got it all straightened out. So what did Hashem do? He gives us a Yom of Succos in order to demonstrate that this proclamation that we made duringNe’eelah is true and not just another flimsy commitment.

On Succos we are commanded to take the fourMinim. The Medrash explains that the four Minimsymbolize the human limbs, the heart, eyes, lips and spine. The Medrash also mentions that each one of the minim symbolizes Hashem. By taking the four Minim we are declaring that my primary ambition in life is to become one with Hashem and that my physical body should be transformed into a sanctuary for the Shechinah to rest its presence.

On Succos we are also commanded to live in a hut for seven days. If one is willing to leave the comforts and luxuries of his home and still call this experience זמן שמחתנו because he is dwelling with the Shechinah inside the Succah, then that gives a clear testimony to Hashem that you look upon this world to serve as only a means and not as an ends, and that your primary and secondary goals are not mixed up. The Meforshim say that the abode of the succah symbolizes this fleeting temporary world. As the gemarrah says (Baba Basra 75) that one who fulfills the mitzvah of Succah in this world will merit to sit in the Olam Habah Succah made from the skin of the Livyatanin Olam Habah. The skin of the Livyatansymbolizes the simcha one had even in an Olam Hazeh that was compromised somewhat in order not to conflict with one’s connection (Livyatan from the lashon leviya accompaniment) with Hashem. For just as the skin holds together and preserves the flesh, so too simcha while during amitzvah, holds together the mitzvah and preserves it for eternity. If one is willing to embrace the Succah and its message with joy, then that clearly shows that the permanent address in which you reside in is Olam Habah.

Chag Sameach

Rav Brazil