Thursday, September 29, 2005

The process of din on Rosh Hashana

We find 2 conflicting accounts of the process of din on Rosh Hashana

1. ראש השנה ט"ז: אמר רבי כרוספדאי, אמר רבי יוחנן: שלושה ספרים נפתחין בראש השנה, אחד של רשעים גמורין, ואחד של צדיקים גמורין, ואחד של בינוניים. צדיקים גמורין נכתבין ונחתמין לאלתר לחיים. רשעים גמורין נכתבין ונחתמין לאלתר למיתה. בינוניים תלויין ועומדין מראש השנה ועד יום הכיפורים: זכו - נכתבין לחיים; לא זכו - נכתבין למיתה

R' Kruspedai said 3 books are opened on Rosh Hashana, 1 for reshaim 1 for tzadikkim and 1 for average people. Tzadikim are incribed and sealed right away for life, reshaim right away for death and the average person is waiting until Yom Kippur, if he is worthy he is incribed and sealed right away for life i he is unworthy for death

2. ונתנה תוקף: בראש השנה יכתבון וביום צום כיפור יחתמון

In the piyut U'Nsaneh Tokef: On Rosh Hashana a person is inscribed and on Yom Kippur it is sealed

There are 2 contradictions:
1. The gemara has everything happening either on RH or on YK, the piyut has the inscribing on RH and the sealing on YK.
2. The gemara has different groups while in the piyut everyone is lumped together.

To answer this we need to fully understand the gemara. The Rishonim ask a powerful and obvious question on the gemara. How can the gemara state that צדיקים גמורין נכתבין ונחתמין לאלתר לחיים and רשעים גמורין נכתבין ונחתמין לאלתר למיתה, this is just not true, there are many cases where צדיקים die and רשעים live.

The Rishonim offer a number of answers, I will mention 3 of them (and focus on the last answer of Tosafos):

1. The Ran answers that we are misunderstanding the words צדיק and רשע. We interpret them to mean righteous and eveil. However, the Ran says here they mean צדיק בדין and רשע בדין, meaning that anyone who wins a din is called a צדיק and anyone who loses is called a רשע. This is what I would call a technical answer.
2. The Baal Hamor says that the gemara said צדיקים גמורין, someone who is a צדיק גמור who has no aveiros will live, likewise a רשע גמור someone who has no zechuyos whatsoever will die. Everyone else including regular צדיקים are lumped in the category of בינוניים
3. Tosafos says that רבי כרוספדאי is talking about חיי עולם הבא. This Tosafos answers our original question, there is no contradiction, ונתנה תוקף is talking about din in this world, who lives and who dies, who is rich and who is poor, etc. while רבי כרוספדאי is talking about חיי עולם הבא.

The question remains what does Tosafos mean by חיי עולם הבא? It makes little sense to have a din every year on what your reward will be when you die. A number of acharonim(the Gra, R' Aharon Kotler, and others) explain Tosafos as follows. חיי עולם הבא means spirituality in this world. Torah and mitzvos is חיי עולם הבא. Every year there is a din on how much help (or harm) a person will get in ruchniyos. As I mentioned here Is it ever too late to do teshuva? the Rambam writes

שמונעין ממנו התשובה ואין מניחין לו רשות לשוב מרשעו, כדי שימות ויאבד בחטאים שעשה.

It is possible that a person can do a great sin or many sins until the judgement for his sins that he did willingly is that he is prevented from doing teshuva and he is not given permission to repent so that he will die with the sins that he did.

This is exactly this idea, that a person needs help from above to succeed in ruchniyos. צדיקים גמורין נכתבין ונחתמין לאלתר לחיים means that they will have siyata dishmaya to succeed in ruchniyos and therefore they are considered alive. רשעים גמורין נכתבין ונחתמין לאלתר למיתה means that even though physically they are alive, they are dead spiritually and will receive no help (and may be prevented) in succeeding spiritually.

It comes out that there are 2 separate din processes on Rosh Hashana

1. A din on your physical life whether you live or die, rich or poor, etc. This is בראש השנה יכתבון וביום צום כיפור יחתמון

2. A din on your ruchniyos, how much help will you get from above, this is what רבי כרוספדאי was talking about and this is all on RH or all on YK depending on your status.

I would like to wish all the readers a כתיבה וחתימה טובה on both dinim, both in gashmiyus and in ruchniyos.


Cosmic X said...

וכן למור

Anonymous said...


Seeing that we are coming up to the new year and it is also a time to reflect, I just wanted to thank you for both your posts in your blog, and responding to questions in the comments section. You have taught me and many others torah this year, and there is little more zechus than that. Yashar Koach and Ksiva vechasima tova.

Anonymous said...


I echo MNR's comments. Todah.

If you're bored in shul, check out the Preshes Drachim (from the Mishna L'melech). He has a whole piece on reconciling the gemara in R"H to other places in Shas.

Anonymous said...

I also want to wish you a ksiva v'chasima tova; I enjoy your blog a lot.

I've disagreed with you sharply on some threads (regarding E"Y extremism, attitude to Arabs, mitzvas yishuv E"Y). While I stand by the points I made, and even hope you take them into account, I think my comments were too sharp, and I want to apologize for any offense. I know that you are very sincere, and live by what you write, and am sorry if that didn't come through.

A gut yar.

Anonymous said...

check out sifsei chaim, he speaks about this, explaining a machlokes rema and MgA based on what you wrote b;sheim the gra.
i enjoyed his piece a lot, as he dealt with many of teh Qs on that sugya in RH

Anonymous said...

The question is then where did the Paytan of U'Nsaneh Tokef get the idea that regarding wordly matters everything is written on R"H & sealed on Y"K?
Gmar Chasima Tova. Keep up the good blogging.