Gevurah. Judgment. Netzach. Eternity. Gevurah she’b’Netzach. Judgment in eternity.
Trigger warning: stressful day, serious post.
Maybe you’ve heard of hell. It’s an afterlife option for Christians. Each Christian’s life is judged on the day of their death. Did they turn towards God and let go of sin? Then, they get eternal life in heaven. Did they turn away from God and towards sin? Then they get eternal damnation in hell.
And maybe you’ve heard of the Day of Judgment. For Muslims, it’s the end of the world as we know it. On that day, all people will be judged. Did they follow the path where grace abounds? Then, they get eternal life in paradise. Or did the follow the path of unbelief and anger? Then they get eternal damnation in hell.
If you take these teachings literally, they are harsh. So, let’s look at them a bit less literally. As many Christians and Muslims do, too. One day you will die. Then, you’ll have no more chances to fix your mistakes. Whatever you left broken will stay that way. And that’s how others will judge you. But you don’t know when that day will come! It could even be tomorrow. So, why not fix your mistakes today?
But Judaism, the tradition that influenced me the most, doesn’t teach any of this. Sure, there is a day of judgment. But it comes every year. We judge ourselves and fix what we can. Then God judges us and decides how our next year will be. That’s it! There’s no eternal judgment. Just year-by-year judgment.
And when we die? Yes, we are judged. If we are good, integrated, and healthy inside, then we go straight to the Garden of Eden. But if we aren’t, then we go to purgatory. And, after a deep inner workout lasting no more than a year, we head on up to the Garden.
Oh, and if we left our loved ones on a bad note? We appear to them in the shape of memories or dreams. Every day for the nine months they say the mourner’s kaddish. And every year on the anniversary of our passing. Gradually, they let go of bad memories and come to know the newer, purer us.
So why am I so hard on myself? Why can’t I let go of self-judgment even after others forgive me?
Where does my sense of eternal judgment come from?
Today is Day 23 of the Omer, three weeks and two days.
New to the Omer count? Here’s a primer.