By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, March 6, 2009

Din means judgment. Rosh Hashanah is also known as Yom Hadin, the Day of Judgment. On Rosh Hashanah the whole world is judged (Mishnah Rosh Hashanah, 1:2).This accounts for the ambivalent character of the day. Its a Yomtov. We wear white and eat, drink and rejoice, but we dont say Hallel; we hope and pray that Gods judgment will be tempered by love, yet at a time of judgment our joy is restrained.

Judgment is something were suspicious of these days. Non-judgmentalism has been universally accepted as the highest, indeed the only virtue, writes social commentator Theodore Dalrymple. We understand that actions have precipitating causes. Were more sophisticated than to judge others and we expect God to be also.

Yet Rosh Hashanah makes us confront our mortality, and so our responsibility to make our lives count. We have limited time and only we are accountable for how we spent it, for good or ill, to help or harm.

Din, writes the contemporary teacher Rabbi Matis Weinberg, means not only judgment, but consequence. Our choices have outcomes that may hurt ourselves or others. Din, searching, honest and critical judgment, is the way through which we may recognise and repair unhealthy or destructive patterns of life and start to restore ourselves to spiritual health.

Last updated: 12:32pm, March 6 2009