Day 10: Change the World

Day 10

Elul 9 Thursday, August 31, 2017 English Translation follows

כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד מִבְּנֵי הָאָדָם, יֵשׁ לוֹ זָכויּוֹת וַעֲווֹנוֹת.  מִי שֶׁזָּכויּוֹתָיו יְתֵרוֹת עַל עֲווֹנוֹתָיו, צַדִּיק; וּמִי שֶׁעֲווֹנוֹתָיו יְתֵרוֹת עַל זָכויּוֹתָיו, רָשָׁע; מֶחְצָה לְמֶחְצָה, בֵּינוֹנִי.

וְכֵן הַמְּדִינָה–אִם הָיוּ זָכויּוֹת כָּל יוֹשְׁבֶיהָ מְרֻבּוֹת עַל עֲווֹנוֹתֵיהֶם, הֲרֵי זוֹ צַדֶּקֶת; וְאִם הָיוּ עֲווֹנוֹתֵיהֶם מְרֻבִּין, הֲרֵי זוֹ רְשָׁעָה.  וְכֵן כָּל הָעוֹלָם כֻּלּוֹ.

Every single human being has both merits and demerits. One whose merits exceed his demerits is righteous, and one whose demerits exceed his merits is wicked. If they are equal in number, he is an “intermediate.”

It is so with the nations. If the merits of the inhabitants of a nation exceed their demerits, the nation is righteous. If its demerits are more numerous, the nation is wicked, and so with the entire world.


אָדָם שֶׁעֲווֹנוֹתָיו מְרֻבִּין עַל זָכויּוֹתָיו–מִיָּד הוּא מֵת בְּרִשְׁעוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר “עַל רֹב עֲו‍ֹנֵךְ” (ירמיהו ל,יד; ירמיהו ל,טו; הושע ט,ז).  וְכֵן מְדִינָה שֶׁעֲווֹנוֹתֶיהָ מְרֻבִּין–מִיָּד הִיא אוֹבֶדֶת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר “זַעֲקַת סְדֹם וַעֲמֹרָה כִּי-רָבָּה” (בראשית יח,כ).  וְכֵן כָּל הָעוֹלָם כֻּלּוֹ, אִם הָיוּ עֲווֹנוֹתֵיהֶם מְרֻבִּין–מִיָּד הֶן נִשְׁחָתִין, שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר “וַיַּרְא ה’, כִּי רַבָּה רָעַת הָאָדָם בארץ” (בראשית ו,ה).

וְשִׁקּוּל זֶה אֵינוּ לְפִי מִנְיַן הַזָּכִיּוֹת וְהָעֲווֹנוֹת, אֵלָא לְפִי גָּדְלָן:  יֵשׁ זְכוּת שְׁהִיא כְּנֶגֶד כַּמָּה עֲווֹנוֹת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר “יַעַן נִמְצָא-בוֹ דָּבָר טוֹב” (מלכים א יד,יג); וְיֵשׁ עָווֹן שְׁהוּא כְּנֶגֶד כַּמָּה זָכויּוֹת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר “וְחוֹטֶא אֶחָד, יְאַבֵּד טוֹבָה הַרְבֵּה” (קוהלת ט,יח).  וְאֵין שׁוֹקְלִין אֵלָא בְּדַעְתּוֹ שֶׁלְּאֵ-ל דֵּעוֹת, וְהוּא הַיּוֹדֵעַ הֵיאַךְ עוֹרְכִין הַזָּכויּוֹת כְּנֶגֶד הָעֲווֹנוֹת.

A person whose demerits exceed his merits dies immediately in his wickedness, as it is written (Jeremiah 30:14), [I struck you down…] because of your many sins. So too will a nation whose demerits are excessive be destroyed immediately, as it is written (Genesis 18:20) the cry of Sodom and Gemorah,  for it is great. So too the entire world. If its demerits are excessive, it will be destroyed immediately, as it is written (Genesis 6:5) for God saw that the evil of humanity was great.

This measurement is not made in terms of the number of merits and demerits, rather according to their significance.  There are some merits that are equivalent to many demerits, as it is written (I Kings 14:13) for there is found in him a good thing. There can be some demerits that are equivalent to many merits, as it is written (Ecclesiastes 9:18) one sinner destroys much good. This assessment may only be made in the Mind of the All-Knowing God, who knows how to evaluate merits and demerits.

Translation from Maimonides on Teshuvah (5th Edition, 2017)

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