I have enjoyed plenty while those around me suffer want.
I have enjoyed health, while those around me suffer illness.
I have enjoyed peace, while those around me suffer instability.
I have had the blessing of seeing my son become bar mitzvah, when others have lost sons and daughters.
I have had the blessing of a wife who loves me and is my partner and support, while others have suffered heartbreak from the loss of a loved one or from being alone.
Through storms and Earthquake and the trials of the World this past year, God has shown me nothing but kindness and good fortune. He has sheltered me and protected me and my wife and child, even while others of greater virtue have suffered.
Yet what use have I made of these gifts? Have I done everything I could do? Have I used the plenty that God has given me not only for myself, but for others? Not only for others, but ungrudging and with joy that God has given me the opportunity to be his instrument to provide for others? Have I been grateful for the uncounted kindnesses God has shown? Or has Jeshurun "grown fat and kicked?"
Have I treated others, including my own family, and including those whom I do not like or whom I oppose, with sufficient regard? Have I justified poor behavior to my fellow human being in my heart through countless excuses?
Have I seen mitzvot as a burden? Have I resented the time spent davening? The inconvenience and expense of keeping kosher?
The Great and Terrible Day comes. The Book opens, and the Most High knows, knows, the answers to these questions. The Prosecuting Angel and the Defending Angel stand before the Heavenly Throne. But the Most High waits. He waits for me. He waits for me to look within my own heart. In patience and love he waits. As a father before the child, as a loving master before the erring servant, he waits for me to look upon the scales set out by the Prosecuting Angel and the Defending Angel.
Therefore is it the Great and Terrible Day. Not for the Judgment. The Judgment of the Lord is founded on justice yet tempered by mercy, guided by wisdom and administered with compassion. Nay, it is the Great and Terrible Day because on this Day we stand naked before the Heavenly Throne. All of the excuses and pardons that we give ourselves are stripped away, and The Most High looks upon our hearts and waits.
Waits for us to look into our own hearts, waits for us to recognize our faults. Waits for us to return to Him. Waits for us to return with true repentance. Waits for us to pass through repentance to acceptance of his Just and Merciful Judgment. Waits for us to serve Him with Joy. Waits for us to serve Him with Love. Waits for us to serve Him through good deeds. Waits for us to serve Him by showing love and compassion. As it is said: "What does the Lord require of You? Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with the Lord your God."
And He waits. For none shall do it for me. As it is written: "It is not in Heaven that you shall say, 'who will go up to Heaven to take it and bring it to us that we may hear it and do it?' Nor is it over the sea that you shall say,'who shall go over the sea and take it and bring it to us that we may do it?' For the Word is very near to you. It is in your mouth, and in your hearts, that you may do it."
Wherefore it is the Great and Terrible Day. I tremble in my heart. I am not ready. I cannot endure His gaze that directs me to my own heart, His loving patience that strips me of my excuses and my comforting lies. "In your light we see light," and my self-blindness is taken from me. I am not ready. But the hour is come.
Oh God, recall your promise and delivery me from fear. As it is said: "And each shall sit beneath his vine, and beneath his fig tree, and none shall make him afraid; this the mouth of the Lord has promised." Comfort me, as it is said: "Be comforted, be comforted, oh my people." Forgive me, as it is said: "Yea, though your sins be red as scarlet, I shall make them white as snow." Purify me, as it is written: "Before the Lord shall you be purified."
Blessed is the Lord, the Mikva of Israel.