When lifetime reaches its appointed end, it is reviewed, evaluated, assessed. And the spiritual being that has shared his body to enter the realm beyond, is held accountable and responsible for everything. In the presence of the Almighty, answer must be made for things done or not done. ... How do you prepare? ... To this agonizing question our Sages have one fundamental approach: "If there is no judgment below, there is judgment above" (Midrash Rabbah, Deuteronomy v 4; Tanhuma, Mishpatim 5); but "whenever there is judgment [below] there will be none [above]" (Midrash Rabbah, Genesis xxvi 6). Heaven's sentence for our misdeed and iniquity, the only alternative – and the better alternative--is to undergo judgment below, in our earthly existence; at whose hands?--Our own. If we judge ourselves fairly and honestly, there will be no need for a Heaven to do so. Once a debt is paid, it ceases to exist. But our self-judgment must be worthy [of] the name: it must be really fair and truthful. And it must be carried out. A French proverb runs, Qui s'excuse, s'accuse: whoever makes excuses for himself, accuses himself. (Gabriel Meurier, Tresor des Sentences (c. 1575) p. 63). The honest way of self-judgment is to see that we make payment in full, insofar as we can, for every wrong committed. Did you insult someone? Ask his forgiveness. Did you unjustly withhold another's money? See that he receives it without delay. Did you fail to give as much tz'dakah, charity to good causes, as you could have and should have? Henceforth give your share. Have you failed to visit the sick to bring them cheer? To visit mourners to bring them solace? Hereafter overcome your inertia and reluctance, and make these visits. The goal to achieve is t'shuvah, a word translated as repentance, which actually means return. Pass judgment on yourself, and carry it out with integrity, so that you return to your original state of merit. Let your slate be wiped clean; return, become again the person you were before you incurred guilt. But above all, start at once. Now is the time to right the wrongs you have committed, to seek forgiveness from the people you have hurt, to make restitution while you can. In the grave it is too late. The objection could be raised, though, that human memory is rather short, especially where it concerns one's own self. Perhaps we can recall relatively few of our past mistakes and shortcomings. What then? Let us bear in mind the eloquent words of Moses our Master: "The hidden things are for L-rd our G-d, and the overt, apparent things are for us…" [this verse]. Our task is to undergo judgment at our hands for those bad deeds of which we know; the rest we can safely leave to Heaven.
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