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Rabbi's Blog

rabbi 05 smallsf badge lgRabbi Joel Landau  ( has been the Rabbi of Adath Israel since May 2013. He was ordained by the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem and has served previously as a congregational Rabbi in Charleston, South Carolina and Irvine, California. A full biography of Rabbi Landau is available here.

There are six questions the Talmud tells us we are all to face after 120 years:

1-Did you do business honestly? 2-Did you fix times for Torah? 3-Were you involved with being fruitful and multiplying? 4-Were you anxiously anticipating the redemption? 5-Were you intellectually involved in pursuit of wisdom and understanding one thing from another? 6-Did you have “Fear of Heaven”? (Tractate Shabbos 31A)

The Maharal of Prague (Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, 1520 – 1609) explains that these six questions are an initial entrance exam to discover whether we were dominated by the material or the spiritual aspects of our personalities. Were we in fact physical creatures having an occasional spiritual experience, or were we spiritual beings in physical forms? In order to align ourselves with our spiritual essence,, here are some concrete suggestions of little things that we can all do to improve in these areas.

1-Honesty in Business: Were we greedy in our relationships or were we capable of being generous?  Try to do something nice for others once a week completely anonymously. Regardless of whether you receive credit for your good deed, the small act of kindness will reinforce your generosity muscle.

2-Fixing Times for Torah: Pick a book on a Torah topic and set aside a time to read it. Maybe it's one page per day, or one chapter per week. Make yourself the master of your time so that you can use this most precious resource to its fullest.

3-Being Fruitful and Multiplying:  We know that we’re not meant to live in isolation, our mission here is to make a difference in our communities. Try connecting with members of the Adath Israel community by introducing yourself to someone who you don’t know or inviting a friend along to a shul event. You never know the impact you can have on others just by sharing a smile.  

4-Anticipating the Redemption: The more we grow in hope, the more we expect the redemption. We develop a sense of hope by leaving behind the feeling that we are trapped in our ways and making steps towards improvement. Try to think of one thing you could do each week that would help you actualize your potential. This may be taking 30 minutes of your day to be careful with your speech or disconnecting your cell phone in order to reconnect with your loved ones over dinner.. Pick an area that you want to improve on and make a commitment.

5-Developing Intellect in Pursuance of Wisdom: The human intellect is the prize of all prizes to possess. When it is dedicated to and saturated with Torah Wisdom from The Divine Mind, an individual is lifted beyond the daily dust of existence and is tinged with a deeply tuned-in quality that leads towards perfection. Try to share this intellect by developing a discussion on a Torah thought at your next Shabbat table.

6-Fear of Heaven: Did we live with a daily awareness that we are completely dependent upon The Creator? Do we express a molecule of gratitude for the lifetime of blessings that we have received? Try jotting down one thing a day that you are grateful for.  Everyday, add something new to the growing list. After a few weeks, your eyes will open up to all the little things you have to be grateful for.

It is certainly worthwhile to have some advance insight into the screening process that measures our real level of success when we reach the ultimate Day of Judgment. This information may help us prioritize as we gear up for Rosh Hashanah.