Leading up to the all important Day of Judgement and the Day of Atonement (Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur respectively, for those of the Hebraic persuasion), i thought i'd share some important ideas with the facebook readership, both Jewish and non-Jewish this is relevant to all our lives.

The Torah teaches us that the whole world is judged on Rosh Hashana, not just the Jewish people. Whether we live or die, how much money we are to earn, is decided by G-d over this period.

Something that really hit home on what a sin actually is, and what it actually means, as very few people are aware in any serious way at all about this all-important area of our lives. Don't give up just yet... :-) The Rambam states clearly in his work 'Laws of Teshuva [returning to the source of who we are, i.e. purity]', that a person should always view himself as on the tip of a set of scales - one more mitzvah [fulfilment of the Higher Will], tips one over the 50% mark, one more cheyt [sin], tips it over the 50% mark for evil, (G-d-forbid).

Not only this. But he goes further. A person does not exist in a vacuum; rather he forms part of his family, his town, his country, his race, and the whole world! He is one cog in a very big machine - a vital and irreplaceable cog nonetheless.

As stated earlier, the whole world is judged come Rosh Hashana, and thus this one more deed that could tip the scales either way FOR THE WHOLE WORLD. This is how a person must think, decides the Rambam. Given this background, let us turn to the book of Bereishis, or 'Genesis' if the reader is not of the Hebraic perusasion, and let us find out about mankind's first ever sin, and his Creator's reaction to it. First of all, what was the sin? The sin is found in Genesis 3:6 :- '...va'titein gam-li'isha ima v'yochal.' ['...and she also gave to her man with her, and he ate']. The verses continue: 'Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realised that they were naked; and they sewed together a fig leaf and made themselves clothing. They heard the Voice of the Lord G-d Walking in the Garden toward evening; and the man and his wife hid from the Lord G-d amongst the tree of the Garden. And the Lord G-d Called to man[both of them], saying to him, 'ayecka'/'where are you'?' Now this is very odd! Why should the Creator of the Universe ask man such a question? Of course He knows what they'd done, He Exists far beyond the parameters and limitations of time. He gave mankind (2 people at that time) one commandment, and they blew it. Yet He asks the question.

What is G-d Teaching us here in this verse? G-d Knows what everyone of us even thinks, let alone knowing where we all are. The question is very very odd. That cannot be what 'ayecka' really means. The answer is as follows. The perfection of the human being was twice - firstly at the Creation of man BEFORE he ate from the Tree of Knowledge, and secondly when the Jewish people when they received the Torah at Mt. Sinai said, 'na'aseh v'nishma' ['we will do and we will understand'], this was the bringing back to perfection of man to his lofty state prior to the sin. What happened after that was the incidence of the golden calf, sin was brought back into the world, as was the satan, death, and we were back to the state of Adam post-sin. As should be well known, man is created good (contrary to certain other alleged 'updates' on G-d's immutable Word, G-d-forbid) and Judaism absolutely rejects the concept of original sin - this is not what the Torah teaches us. The causing factor or provoking factor we can say that causes most of us do bad, is not down to us per se, but rather a result of external surroundings to us.

'Everyone else is doing something wrong or perverse, so i've got to do it too. it looks so cool. everyone else MUST be having SUCH a good time, i don't want to miss out.' The Yetzer Hara (the evil inclination in a person, can be likened to the most expert salesman we are ever going to experience in our lives. Set up by the Lord G-d Himself - HE iS A MALACH/ANGEL. He is made of fire! We cannot beat him alone, we need G-d's Help. However, this is not the point. At our root essences, we are all pure, we are all good people.

So what happened? How did we let that yetzer hara trick us into believing that this pursuit into absolute nothingness was worth it!? How did we take the false sale?! And this my friends is what the Creator is asking every single one of us this Rosh Hashana. Where are YOU!!!??? The real YOU.... Not that club, or that girl, or that bar, or that picture on the computer. But YOU. Your soul, your core. We only have to be US - the real US - and we would never do the sin. How do we know this? Just look a few verses before this incident... (Bereishis 3:1): 'And the serpent was cunning beyond all the animals in the field that the Lord G-d had Made. And [the serpent] said to the woman, ''Did, perhaps, G-d say: 'you shall not eat of any tree of the Garden?' "... then in verses 4-5, the serpent convinces the woman that she will not in fact die if she eats 'for G-d knows that on the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened...' The woman had walked past that very same tree without ever being tempted to eat from it maybe HUNDREDS OF OCCASiONS BEFORE! Before the sin, there was no good and evil in the world, there was just emes and sheker, truth and falsehood. To eat from the tree was so obviously a falsehood it was a no-brainer, because it did not fit in with G-d's Plan for their existence and the world's existence - what did they have to gain anyway?!

There was no challenge, maybe i will, maybe i won't...NO. This battle wasn't there. But...... on one particular occasion this time was very different. This time, the SATAN - that external pressure - came to her in the form of the serpent (which according to the Midrash, stood erect and was endowed with some faculty of communication prior to its being cursed to crawl on its stomach), and tempted her into perverting her true pure nature. Then, lo and behold, in 3:6 - 'and the woman saw that the tree was good to eat and her eyes desired it...'

Suddenly, the tree has gone from being evil in her eyes and totally alien to ever even contemplate eating from it, to being good and desirable, to being a means to wisdom etc, and she ultimately goes on to sin. The serpent appealled to her, saying 'hang out with me, chill, let's eat from this tree, it's not so bad, you'll get wise, have some experience! Live a little.

Everyone's doing it. Don't stand out! Chill, be cool...' etc, much like the Yetzer Hara comes to the majority of people all the days of their lives. SOOOO... who brought the woman down? The serpent - she agreed to befriend him. Big mistake.

This serpent in our own lives can be anyone - a bad friend, the media, our own evil inclination (after Adam's sin, we now know evil because it is a part of our make up)... What's the effect of such a serpent, whatever form it comes in? A PERSON LOSES THEiR iDENTiTY. They are no longer the real THEM, they are a slave to the serpent. Hence, why the Lord G-d asks mankind 'ayecka'. Where are YOU? Where are WE? The real us, the real we. Note, the Lord does not ask us the first time mankind sinned, 'what did you do?' 'why did you do it?' No. He Asks us how we let ourselves get taken in and corrupted by the influences around us. A very modern satan these days is facebook and other sorts of social networking tools, our mobiles... we suddenly lose our identity - we are not US, we are what we are presenting to others. We become our facebook identity. Or our mobile number. Or our million songs on our iPod. Or our culture that we associate with... 'i'm part of this cool group, i go to these clubs, i spend this much money on my drinks, look how rich i am and how blonde my hair is...' - this is not US! The majority of people, i'm sure, if they are in touch with themselves in any slight way at all, will have asked themselves this question on many occasions. We've all been through it before to varying degrees - you know, being St. Tropez brown can certainly be very compelling ;-) Not one person, not one thing, has the right to take away who we really ARE from US. We enter this world alone, and we leave this world alone. There is only one of us. When we meet our Maker after this short finite passageway to the World-to-Come on this earth, we cannot blame our certain situations (which G-d Himself gave us) as an excuse! 'My parents were divorced', 'i was poor', 'i was ugly', ' i had a disability'. Where do we learn this from? Moshe Rabbeinu - Moses our Teacher, himself. He had a terrible stutter. Yet he used this very tool as his vehicle to what his purpose was on this planet. The mitzvah of the month we are in now is to admit of our sins, verbally, to G-d. Where we've lost ourselves to our surroundings, where we've essentially sold our soul. This MUST be done verbally, or it is invalid (Rambam, Hilchos Teshuva). When we do this mitzvah of returning - (G-d is craving of us to return to Him) - we bring the world infinitely closer to the coming of our Righteous Messiah, the Anointed One, who G-d is just so eager to send RiGHT NOW! He's 'Crying' out for us to just return to Him. The Rambam also states that even a person who has sinned all his life, broke shabbos, ate pork, everything. This person can do this mitzvah even on the day of his death, and in the World-to-Come he will not be reminded of his evilness. [nb. the Rambam also states that one cannot sin, and then claim to have confessed their sins - 'i did a mitzvah' - NO. The Rambam states quite clearly that such a person will NEVER have his 'returning' accepted, and will never achieve atonement for that sin. And to end, some food for thought: The upcoming year will be the year 5769. The Jewish calender years are counted from the creation of the first man, i.e. the first being with a soul that could connect to G-d. We do not count from any other person's birthdays, deathdays, prophecy-receiving days, etc. Simply the Creation of the man. The Talmud, the Jewish Oral Law, states that the Messiah MUST COME by the year 6000 (though he could come anytime before then if we merit it). By my calculations, that leaves just 231 years to go. And this is a maximum. We can speed up his coming by doing one more mitzvah, one more good deed, and refraining from one more forbidden thing.

May we all merit to experience the days of the Messiach Tzidkeinu, speedily in our days.

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