I drove by a church that had the following pithy statement on their information board: If you are morally poor in the here, you will be bankrupt in the hereafter. Can this clever statement apply to Jews as well? Do we believe in a hereafter?
While we can proudly point to the amount of scholarly material written trying to explain what God means for us to do in the Torah, Judaism is not about knowledge. We are to use this knowledge to inform the choices that we make every day. Thus we are about action, not knowledge.
What are we to make of someone who possesses much learning but doesn’t use that knowledge to live by? Can someone be learned and morally bankrupt at the same time?
If we are to model to the world what Judaism stands for, our behavior expresses it better than words can. When we comfort mourners, for example, we demonstrate who we are and what Judaism teaches us, and we teach others. I am so proud of our congregants, and must commend you collectively in your recent response to a loss. Without embarrassing anyone, a congregant and family whom do not live in the immediate neighborhood suffered a loss. I was concerned that a lack of proximity might be a challenge in gathering a weekly evening minyan. While I did set up carpools to facilitate travel, especially for those not comfortable driving to an unfamiliar place during a rainy evening, I was delighted that there was never a problem - every evening had a minyan. Those who could modeled to us all by example what it means to be Jewish by responding to a family in need and offering comfort. Bravo!
The High Holy Day imagery of God as a forensic accountant reviewing our personal Excel spreadsheet of mitzvot remains a powerful one. Too often we can forget that the spreadsheet cannot lie. It merely lists what we do without embellishment, for we are the only ones with access. We decide if there are more credits or debits. What do you think your balance sheet will look like when the account is closed? Hopefully the church information board is not about you.