The Brisker Rav relates the following parable:
There was a man who earned his livelihood by smuggling illegal goods across the border from one country to another. He would have customers in different cities, that he would sell to once he got there. How did he actually transport the goods? He would hire an unassuming wagon driver, load up the back and settle down for the journey. The smuggler himself knew exactly what he was carrying and knew the repercussions of what he was doing. He understood he was committing a crime. A few hours before they would even reach the border he would begin to get extremely edgy and nervous, for he understood what was at stake. The wagon driver, on the other hand, had no reason to be nervous. As they approached the actual border the wagon driver would get a little nervous, naturally, for there were times when you can encounter a nasty border guard who could cause problems if he so desires. The only one, who had no fear at all, as they approached the border, was the horses. They were oblivious to what was going on, had no clue what they were carrying and unaware of the ramifications that could have existed should they get caught.
Says the Brisker Rav, people who understand the magnitude of the Yom HaDin-are nervous for months. They understand the severity of what can occur. The ones who don’t really have a complete grasp of what’s going on only get anxious a day two before. The only ones who don’t get nervous at all are the horses-the people who have no inkling of what is at stake.
There’s a frightening Medrash in parshas V’zos haBracha (ois 6). The Medrash states ‘there are ten pasukim in the Torah that refers to the death of Moshe Rabeinu. It teaches us that even though the Torah alludes to the death of Moshe ten times; his fate had not been sealed until the Beis Din Hagadol saw ‘shehaya kal b’eini Moshe.’ The aveira that Moshe committed was ‘light’ in his eyes. Moshe says to the Ribono Shel Olam ‘klal Yisroel did many more aveiros than I ever did and each time they sinned I was able to daven to you for them and you forgave them. But I commit one aveira -just one-and I’m punished so severely and I can’t be forgiven?’ It was at that point that Hashem swore by His heavenly name that Moshe would not merit entering eretz Yisroel.’
There are certain times when we sin, and we have an attitude of ‘nu nu, everyone does it’ or ‘I’m no worse than him.’ What we don’t realize is that the attitude of ‘no fear’ can sometimes carry more weight than the actual aveira itself. Man was created with a yetzer hara whose job it is to see that we commit as many aveiros as possible and ‘live life to the fullest.’ But he doesn’t stop there; he tries to get you to make light of it and say ‘you’re not the only one that does this. It’s not the end of the world.’ As rough of a battle that one may have with the yetzer hara-even in a not so severe situation-one must be careful not to make light of it as by doing so will only add to the severity of it-and possibly outweigh the sin.
One who approaches the Yom Hadin without the proper fear and understanding of what is at stake-that itself can sometimes be worse than the actual aveira. The opposite can be true too-a person who works on himself to develop a fear of what’s at stake and of what’s about to happen—that pachad hadin (fear of judgment) itself, says Reb Yisroel Salanter, can actually save someone from a negative judgment.
Rav Yisroel Salanter brings proof from the Mishna Berura (siman תקפד ס’ק א’) that says ‘even though we all go into Rosh Hashana hoping to come out in favor of a good judgment, nevertheless, one must approach with fear, and tremble from the intensity of the din-and in that zechus we will emerge victorious.’
Wishing everyone a כתיבה וחתימה טובה and a שנת גאולה שנת רפואה ושנת ישועה. May we merit the coming of Moshiach this year, speedily-in our days.
לשנה טובה תכתבו ותחתמו לאלתר לחיים לטובים ולשלום!
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