Rosh Hashana, the head of the year, is the day on which God determines the fate and fortune of both individuals and communities for the year to come. It is assumed that on this day God determines exactly how much money one will earn in the coming year. As it says, "All of a person's earnings are fixed in the time from Rosh Hashana until (and including ) Yom Kippur, except for his expenses for Shabbat, holidays and expenses incurred in teaching his children Torah" (Beitza 16a).
But if God decides on Rosh Hashana that a person is to earn $80,000 for the year, what need is there for that person to remain "good"? Since judgment has been already rendered, can’t we just relax until next Rosh Hashana?
The Talmud addresses this question on a communal level (Rosh Hashana 17b):
Let's say that on Rosh Hashana the Jewish people were judged to be in the category of the completely righteous, and Heaven decreed abundant rainfall for that year. But, later, they went off the straight and narrow. Reducing the total amount of rainfall is impossible, because the decree has already been issued. Therefore, the Holy One, blessed be He, may make it rain during the wrong season or on land that does not require rain.
On Rosh Hashana a judgment is rendered. How that judgment is executed (whether in a single check, a monthly increase, or random $1 bills that are spent without thought) is up to each of us.
This Treat was originally published on September 6, 2010.
Copyright © 2012 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.