Something of a pre-Yom Kippur rambling here, but it was on my mind. So much of Yom Kippur davening, especially as the day progresses, centers around the refrain that we are not truly worthy of the mercy, chesed, etc., that we ask God to bestow upon us. Indeed, we turn to all sorts of different appeals so as not to be judged on our merit alone.
One of the more common ones (in that we actually do it every day, three times a day) is that we descend from greatness, and thus, we should be judged on that merit. In other words, we’re sort of asking for favoritism because God liked our cool parents. Which, hey, I’m totally cool with, if it works. But it got me thinking…
Has there been someone in recent years who felt that he was worthy of God’s mercy? Who felt that he/she was righteous? Look, I’m not tzadik and I know that. I mess up constantly, and sometimes intentionally (hey, never hurts to get some extra viduy in, am I right?). I’m not hoping to come out in the tzadik book. It’s either beinoni or worse, God forbid, for me. And, indeed, I hope to be sealed for good come Yom Kippur, but the fact of the matter is that there’s no slam dunk here. This is no sure thing.
But, for instance, when the GR”A davened, do you think he truly felt that way? When Rav Moshe Feinstein davened, for another instance, do you think that he sort of knew that he’d be okay? And, I mean, if these sorts of people aren’t a sure bet in the list of tzadikim, then who ends up there? It seems like it’d be a pretty empty list. And take this all the way back, too: Rambam, Ramban, Rashi — how do you think they felt when they prayed?
I should point out two things here: (1) Being sealed for good does not equal being sealed for life. I’m talking more about being considered, in the eyes of God, a tzadik vs. beinoni vs. rasha. (2) I don’t think there is any practical ramification for this using whatsoever. Was just a thought I had.