Happening in Heaven Right Now
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim
What’s the surest security to improving your life? It is only God. For He created you and operates with a system of reward and punishment. When God wishes good for you, nothing can prevent that good. You might deny God’s involvement in your life, but Torah—the Bible—says otherwise. All the stories of God’s intervention with the patriarchs, matriarchs and prophets is an intentional lesson that they are models for us. If we follow their perfected characters, God intervenes on our behalf too.
We are now amidst the most precious few days. During these 10 days between Rosh Hashana (New Year) and Yom Kippur, God decides the fate of every human being for the coming year. “Repentance, prayer and charity can avert an evil decree” (High Holidays prayers). Acting on these 3 matters, we can quite literally change the course of our future.
“Seek the Lord while He can be found, call to Him while He is near” (Isaiah 55:6) refers to right now during these 10 days. Typically, only the public is immediately answered. But now, if we repent, God immediately forgives even individuals. Who wouldn’t wish to be forgiven for all one’s sins? Typically, our focus is on life and not death. But now, our lives hang in the balance. God now inscribes all mankind for life, death, wealth, poverty, peace or conflict. This must not be dismissed. Take a hold of your life and act now to deserve life, health, peace and prosperity. God is offering this option to each one of us. We need only repent with a full heart.
Our rabbis wrote:
AGAINST YOUR WILL YOU WERE CREATED, AND AGAINST YOUR WILL YOU WERE BORN, AND AGAINST YOUR WILL YOU LIVE, AND AGAINST YOUR WILL YOU DIE, AND AGAINST YOUR WILL YOU ARE DESTINED TO GIVE ACCOUNT AND RECKONING BEFORE THE KING OF KINGS, THE HOLY ONE, BLESSED BE HE (Ethics 4:22).
Immortality is an illusion, an emotional conviction that life never ends. This prevents many from seriously accepting our own deaths. But reality tells us no one lives forever. We are amidst days where reality must be faced. We know God’s words and the rabbis are true. Other religions are mere blind faith, but millions witnessed Revelation at Sinai 3333 years ago. Torah was undeniably given by God.
What’s happening in heaven right now is a literal decree on your fate, but it is within your control to improve that decree. If you wronged someone, slandered, stole, cheated, lied, twisted truths, weren’t 100% upfront in business, sinned sexually, ate forbidden foods, violated God by accepting any other power or person or any other sin…face it, admit the wrong, make amends with others, return what was taken, ask forgiveness, and commit to God to never repeat such an action.
Moreover, if the wicked one repents of all the sins that he committed and keeps all My laws and does what is just and right, he shall live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions he committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness he has practiced, he shall live. (Ezekiel 18:21,22)
Ezekiel quotes God. Repentance erases our sins, and punishments. The rabbis too teach the power of teshuva, repentance; nothing is stronger: “It is like a shield against punishments” (Ethics 4:11). For the sake of your life, and to improve this year’s fate, don’t delay; own up to your wrongs.
But one shouldn’t follow Torah only to escape punishment. We bless God daily for the mitzvah of Torah study. The blessing refers to studying “lishma,” for learning itself, with no ulterior purpose (like a reward) but learning purely for the enjoyment of the ideas. In this hedonistic world bent on fame, fortune and lusts, it is quite difficult to extricate oneself from what the world values, and follow what ancient rabbis say is more enjoyable. For most people seek societal approval and won’t risk losing it. Further, the lure of exotic cars, respected positions, pleasures and luxurious living seem more convincing than the prospect of sitting in a yeshiva and studying, with no one applauding. But, will we follow the masses, and live to please others? Or, will we live for ourselves and consider the brilliance of great minds who found a quiet life of study to outweigh all else in terms of true happiness? We trust doctors and no one else with our bodies. Shouldn’t we trust the most brilliant rabbis, sages and philosophers with our happiness? Kings David and Solomon viewed Torah study as their greatest delight. Aren’t you curious what exactly they experienced?
Repent and avert an unnecessary harsh decree. Then find a wise rabbi or learned individual. Pose to him your questions about living a Torah life; share your concerns. Trust the wiser person. He follows God and must have answers that will make sense to you.
You live once. Follow what God says will be the most fulfilling life, even if right now you aren’t convinced. Trust God and His wise followers, and you will eventually find Torah study and observant life to be a pleasure and a blessing, and then you will receive God’s physical blessings too. Don’t delay.