Children, children! Yom Kippur is coming and we all owe the Oibeshter a little something. Maybe you spoke loshon hara, chas v’sholom, maybe you brushed your teeth too hard on Shabbos and caused yourself to bleed, or maybe you had dirty sex with your neighbor’s wife. And maybe Hashem will cause you to die by water, maybe by fire, or maybe while you’re having dirty sex with your neighbor’s wife (death by chenek / strangling?). No matter what the case, we have these ten days to evaluate our actions and improve them- which got me to thinking: is it worth it? Should I go on eating shrimp and cheese burgers on Yom Kippur, or should I go to shul and repent like I always do? Is it a mitzvah to do teshuvah I’ll probably never stick to, or does it just make me a hypocrite? I came up with two possible end-scenes in which I am taken to task for all my filthy sins, when I’m a hundred un tvantzich. It might be worth it to eat the cheeseburgers.
I wake up in a large cloudy room with long lines of people waiting, guarded by mean-looking angel bailiffs. In the distance, I can see a heavenly tribunal, from which fly occasional bolts of lightning and large clouds of putrid smoke. God is larger than I’d imagined Him, and angrier.
Me: (Looking around) Who, me?
God: (Mimicking me) Who, me?
Me: I don’t think that’s necessary.
God: What did you say?
God: That’s what I’d like to know.
God: (To the bailiff) Give him thirty-nine lashes to start.
(They take me out back and beat me silly, then clean me up and bring me back)
God: So you like to sleep with little girls, eh?
God: So you like to find innocent little Beis Yaakov girls and screw them, do you?
Me: To be fair, Your Honor, I don’t do them while they’re actually in Beis Yaakov, that’s illegal. I always wait for them to reach eightee-
God: ENOUGH! You like breaking Shabbos, don’t you? Don’t you? Have you ever broken Shabbos, Mr. Schwartz? To be specific, have you ever touched yourself inappropriately in front of a computer on Shabbos?
Me: I plead the fifth, Your Honor.
God: You think you’re pretty clever, you little asshole, just like in real life. You had your share of k’firah, down there in de gashmiyusdike velt. You tried to make a laughingstock of me, didn’t you, you momzer. Well guess what? I gave you bechirah, I gave you just enough rope to hang yourself with. Because we’re on my turf now, you little punk, and I’m going to tear you limb from limb. Here’s a riddle for you: What is a sin on Earth but has a heter in shomayim?
Me: I give up, sir.
Me: Riboono Shel Oilam! I’m sorry, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to ridicule you, I was just having a good time with all the rules and loopholes and strings and catch-22’s in the Torah. I didn’t think you were so sensitive! I didn’t mean to do any damage to anyone, least of all Yourself, who gave us the wonderful gift of the Torah which I still love to this day. Honestly, I didn’t think you existed, but is that such a sin? You hid Your face on purpose!
God: Stop your crying, you sniveling baby, and take your punishment like a man. Let’s see here, you’re going to boil in your dead semen babies, and burn in horrific hellfire for eleven months.
Me: But what about when I went to shul every Yom Kippur and fasted and davened?
God: Don’t make me laugh. (He leans over and whispers to the angel Michael and they both look over at me and shake their heads) What a putz.
I wake up in what first appears to be a war zone, but turns out to actually resemble a large cheder. People are jumping up and down, yelling, throwing papers at each other, and picking their noses. God is running around after everyone and trying to restore order. He resembles a young kollel man- His suit is getting a little shiny and His black hat is just a bit dusty, but His shirt is white and pressed. He has on a garish tie that was likely printed in the 1990’s.
God: (Running behind a couple of middle-aged men) Ah, boys! Ah, boys! Please sit down so we can get started!
(Everyone ignores Him and goes about their recklessness)
God: Boys! We’re not going to start until you all sit quietly. I’m serious, boys, we can stay here all day, I don’t care. I want to see you all sitting silently for three minutes and then we can begin judging. Boys! SIT DOWN!
Me: (Taking God aside for a minute) Hi, Ribbono Shel Oilem? It’s me, Schwartzie, from der gashmiyusdike velt- I just got here today, I’m really surprised at the behavior of some of the people here. I’m sorry they are making such a chillul Hashem.
God: That’s all right, Schwartzie. Did you get here comfortably?
Me: (Lying through my teeth) I’m not sure- I was just crossing the street to go to mincha, and then I was here.
God: Oh, really? On your way to daven? That’s too bad, you seem like such a nice boy. I would have loved to hear another tefillah from you.
Me: That’s so good to know… You see, I will be honest with You, I was not a good person down there, I did a lot of aveiros, and I made a lot of nasty jokes about You- not out of disrespect so much, but just for the fun of it. I wasn’t sure You’d care, You seemed like such a big God that couldn’t be affected by someone small like me.
God: (Pulls out a paper from His jacket pocket and unfolds it, looks down and finds my name, starts reading some of my aveiros) Let’s see….ah, here…Schwartzie. Oy, Schwartzie, you did this? I’m not mekabel! You don’t look capable of doing such a nasty thing. What had gotten into you? I’m sure you must not have known this was assur…
Me: Actually, Hashem, I did know it was assur. I’m so sorry about it, I was having a hard time and I should never have done any of those things on there. I know that it is only a small condolence, but I want you to know that I went to shul on every Yom Kippur and did real teshuvah for those aveiros. It’s just that my yetzer got bigger and bigger every year, and I would slip back into my bad behavior. Is there anything you can do for me, maybe to make my punishment a little smaller because of my teshuvah, useless as it was?
God: (Takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly) I don’t know… laughing at Me, that is an aveirah that I can forgive, but many of these aveiros were bein adam l’chaveiro… and for these I can not forgive you. It looks like you will have to suffer in gehennom for…up to two weeks.
Me: But I didn’t mean to do them! The yetzer hara is just so strong, I never had a chance against him…
God: I don’t know… it’s only two weeks, I was being generous to you in the first place. Some of these aveiros are pretty…weird.
Me: (A few silent tears roll down my face) But I said I was sorry…
God: (Looks at me and feels bad) OK, Schwartzie, I’m going to make it one week, because I know you didn’t mean to do those things. (Pinches my cheek) Don’t worry, tchachkele, I’ll see you back here in no time! Do you have a chavrusa set up yet? No? OK, when you get back I’ll set one up for you, and I’d also like to see if we can set aside some time for some one-on-one learning. Alright? Good. Now go, don’t be late for gehennom! Wait, did you eat something yet?