Thoughts from Kollel KLAL

Rosh Hashana

The Gemara brings that there are three seforim opened on Rosh Hashanah: the complete tzaddikim are signed immediately for life, the complete resha’im are signed immediately for death, and the בינונים, average people, are held out in doubt until Yom Kippur. If they merit, they will be signed for life, if not, they will be signed for death.

The Rambam brings this Gemara with a slight change, in place of the words if they “merit” he says if they “do teshuva, repent,” then they will merit life. This seems that one specifically needs to do teshuva to be signed for life and it is insufficient to add another mitzvah to tilt the scale. HaRav Itzileh Peterberger asks: a בינוני is one who is in the middle, he has equal merits for good and for bad, and therefore the good is not able to tilt the scale. Once a person performs any additional mitzvah he now has mostly merits to tilt the scale. If so, why shouldn’t this suffice to be considered in the category of the tzaddikim to be signed for life?

HaRav Hutner zatzal says that the assumption by people is that those who have ריבוי זכויות, mostly merits, or רבוי עבירות, mostly aveiros, means an amount of a counting; there are more numbers of merits for good, or more numbers of sins for bad. According to this logic a person’s status might change from day to day. One day he trips and sins, and tilts the scale for bad, the next day he fulfills a few mitzvos and tilts the scale for good. Any mitzvah or aveira which comes before him may cause him to constantly change his status.

HaRav Hutner says the Rambam understands that the terms ריבוי זכויות and רבוי עבירות are a description of the type of middah a person has. The tzaddik is one who generally performs mitzvos and sometimes aveiros; he is mainly connected to good, and has רבוי זכיות. The rasha is one who generally does aveiros and sometimes mitzvos; he is mainly connected to bad and has רבוי עבירות. This is comparable to a person who has the middah of סבלנות; he constantly stays calm when dealing with disturbances, yet sometimes he may get angry. Such a person remains a סבלן. He is different than a person who is a כעסן, one who constantly blows up out of anger. So too a person who has רבוי זכויות constantly does more good than bad.  At times he may find himself in a status of רבוי עבירות if he did a serious sin which tilted the scale. Yet, he is not at all comparable to the person who is the רבוי עבירות type, since this person constantly does more bad than good.

So too the בינוני is one who has a connection to both good by performing mitzvos, and also to bad by doing aveiros.  Such a person is undecided and uncertain whether he is the רבוי זכיות type which is solely for good or the רבוי עונות type which is solely for bad. Even if he does another mitzvah it will not decide or clarify what type of person he is, he will remain in the status of בינוני. The Rambam specifically mentions teshuva because one needs to correct his bad ways of being the בינוני type of person, and change himself to becoming the ריבוי זכויות type, which will be able to grant the merit of life.

May Hashem help us do teshuva of our בינוני status, and commit ourselves to constantly strive to be like the tzaddikim, with ריבוי זכויות!

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