and then sound again a tekia and a terua while they are standing in the Amida prayer? He answers: In order to confuse the Satan, for this double blowing of the shofar demonstrates Israel’s love for the mitzva, and this will confuse Satan when he brings his accusations against Israel before the heavenly court, and the Jewish people will receive a favorable judgment.
And Rabbi Yitzḥak said, playing on the double meaning of the word meri’in, which can mean either sound a terua or cause misfortune: Any year during which, due to some mishap, the shofar was not sounded at its beginning will suffer evil and misfortune at its end. What is the reason? Because Satan was not confused, and he was able to put forward his accusations, so that the Jewish people would be punished.
§ The Gemara brings a series of statements in the name of Rabbi Yitzḥak, all of which relate to judgment: And Rabbi Yitzḥak said: Any year that is poor [rasha] and troubled at its beginning will be made rich at its end, for it is stated: “From the beginning [mereishit] of the year” (Deuteronomy 11:12). The word meireishit is written defectively, without an alef, so that it may also be understood in the sense of rashut, poverty. The verse continues: “And until the end [aḥarit] of the year,” which means that the end of the year will have expectations of good things in the end [aḥarit].
And Rabbi Yitzḥak said: A man is judged only according to his deeds at the time of his judgment, and not according to his future deeds, as it is stated with regard to Ishmael: “For God has heard the voice of the lad where he is” (Genesis 21:17). Although Ishmael and his descendants would act wickedly in the future, his prayer was heard and answered because he was innocent at the time.
And Rabbi Yitzḥak said: Three matters evoke a person’s sins, and they are: Endangering oneself by sitting next to an inclined wall that is about to collapse; expecting prayer to be accepted, as that leads to an assessment of one’s status and merit; and passing a case against another to Heaven, for Rabbi Avin said: Anyone who passes a case against another to God is punished first. Praying for God to pass judgment on another causes one’s own deeds to be examined and compared with the deeds of the other, as it is stated: “And Sarai said to Abram: My anger be upon you; I have given my maid into your bosom, and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes; let the Lord judge between me and you” (Genesis 16:5), and it is written afterward: “And Abraham came to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her” (Genesis 23:2). Sarah called upon Heaven to pass judgment between her and her husband, and therefore she was punished and died first.
And Rabbi Yitzḥak said: A person’s sentence is torn up on account of four types of actions. These are: Giving charity, crying out in prayer, a change of one’s name, and a change of one’s deeds for the better. An allusion may be found in Scripture for all of them: Giving charity, as it is written: “And charity delivers from death” (Proverbs 10:2); crying out in prayer, as it is written: “Then they cry to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses” (Psalms 107:28); a change of one’s name, as it is written: “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be” (Genesis 17:15), and it is written there: “And I will bless her, and I will also give you a son from her” (Genesis 17:16); a change of one’s deeds for the better, as it is written: “And God saw their deeds” (Jonah 3:10), and it is written there: “And God repented of the evil, which He had said He would do to them, and He did not do it” (Jonah 3:10).
And some say: Also, a change of one’s place of residence cancels an evil judgment, as it is written: “And the Lord said to Abram: Go you out of your county” (Genesis 12:1), and afterward it is written: “And I will make of you a great nation” (Genesis 12: 2). The Gemara explains: And the other one, i.e., Rabbi Yitzḥak, who does not include a change of residence in his list, holds that in the case of Abram, it was the merit and sanctity of Eretz Yisrael that helped him become the father of a great nation.
The Gemara cites two more statements in the name of Rabbi Yitzḥak, relating to the Festivals: And Rabbi Yitzḥak said: A person is obligated to go out and greet his teacher on a Festival, as it is stated that the husband of the Shunamite woman asked, when she was readying herself to go to the prophet: “Why will you go to him today; it is neither the New Moon nor Shabbat” (II Kings 4:23). By inference, we learn that on the New Moon and on Shabbat, which in this context means a Festival that is a day of rest, she was required to go.
And Rabbi Yitzḥak said: A person is obligated to purify himself on a Festival, as it is stated: “And their carcasses you shall not touch; they are impure to you” (Leviticus 11:8). This verse is referring to the Festivals, as taught in the following baraita.
This is also taught in a baraita: The verse states: “And their carcass you shall not touch.” One might have thought that ordinary Jews are prohibited from touching an animal carcass. Therefore, the verse states: “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them: There shall none be defiled for the dead among his people” (Leviticus 21:1). It is derived from here that the sons of Aaron are prohibited from defiling themselves, but the children of Israel, i.e., non-priests, are not prohibited from doing so.
But are these matters not an a fortiori inference? If, with regard to severe impurity, i.e., contact with a human corpse, priests are prohibited from defiling themselves, while ordinary Israelites are not prohibited from doing so, in the case of light impurity, e.g., touching an animal carcass, is it not all the more so that Israelites be permitted to defile themselves? Rather, what is the meaning when the verse states: “And their carcass you shall not touch?” It means that on a Festival all are obligated to purify themselves.
§ The Gemara goes back to discuss the Day of Judgment. Rabbi Kruspedai said that Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Three books are opened on Rosh HaShana before the Holy One, Blessed be He: One of wholly wicked people, and one of wholly righteous people, and one of middling people whose good and bad deeds are equally balanced. Wholly righteous people are immediately written and sealed for life; wholly wicked people are immediately written and sealed for death; and middling people are left with their judgment suspended from Rosh HaShana until Yom Kippur, their fate remaining undecided. If they merit, through the good deeds and mitzvot that they perform during this period, they are written for life; if they do not so merit, they are written for death.
Rabbi Avin said: What is the verse that alludes to this? “Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, but not be written with the righteous” (Psalms 69:29). “Let them be blotted out of the book”; this is the book of wholly wicked people, who are blotted out from the world. “Of the living”; this is the book of wholly righteous people. “But not be written with the righteous”; this is the book of middling people, who are written in a separate book, not with the righteous.
Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak said: This matter is derived from here: “And if not, blot me, I pray You, out of Your book which you have written” (Exodus 32:32). “Blot me, I pray You”; this is the book of wholly wicked people, who are blotted out from the world. “Out of Your book”; this is the book of wholly righteous people, which is special and attributed to God Himself. “Which You have written”; this is the book of middling people.
It is taught in a baraita: Beit Shammai say: There will be three groups of people on the great Day of Judgment at the end of days: One of wholly righteous people, one of wholly wicked people, and one of middling people. Wholly righteous people will immediately be written and sealed for eternal life. Wholly wicked people will immediately be written and sealed for Gehenna, as it is stated: “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall wake, some to eternal life and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2). Middling people will descend to Gehenna to be cleansed and to achieve atonement for their sins,