In honor of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, I’m going to tell you something I’ve never told anyone before:
When I was eleven years old, I saw a girl named Julie steal a candy bar during the Days of Judgment.
For those who don’t know about the Days of Judgment, these are the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, our Day of Atonement. I was taught that during these 10 days, God is watching extra closely because it’s during this time that he decides to seal you in the Book of Life for another year or…well, or not. In other words, this is life and death.
As an 11-year-old, I took the Days of Judgment VERY seriously. So, on that fateful morning as we were driving home from Temple Beth Sholom after Sunday school, we stopped at a gas station with a market. Julie was part of the carpool. Julie was my friend, but only because we lived close and we were both Jewish. She was a little bit crazy for me and that morning she was positively INSANE.
While God was sitting with pen in hand, poised over the Book of Life, Julie shoplifted a candy bar. I saw the whole thing and I was shocked! Did I tell my dad? No. Did I tell the store manager? No. I told someone much more important.
I told God. We had lots of conversations back then and I remember being quite vocal in my opinion of the whole thing. ”Did you see that, God? Because that was stealing and if you want to teach her a lesson, then don’t let me stop you.”
And then I waited. I think I was waiting for a lightening bolt. (I was pretty literal as a kid.) But Julie wasn’t struck dead. Not even slightly maimed.
However, I didn’t lose faith in the justice of God. I went up to her and I said, “I can’t believe you just did that and you know God is watching and you’re going to be punished.”
I don’t remember what she said, but I don’t recall her being too worried. And sure enough, the rest of the drive home passed uneventfully as did the whole next year. Julie had somehow managed to rip off a candy bar and still get sealed in the Book of Life.
I’ve never forgotten that. And I suppose I learned a few lessons. Maybe that God doesn’t strike you down for a candy bar. (Maybe that I had a little too much blood lust as a young child.) Maybe that if I want justice, I need to speak up myself. So here we are–it’s Rosh Hashanah and the 10 Days of Judgment. Wherever you are, Julie, I hope you’re not stealing candy bars anymore. And if you do, I’m telling on you!
And to everyone who celebrates, Happy New Year. To everyone who doesn’t, may it be a wonderful day.