Intro: Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev (1740-1809), known as the Kedushat Levi, was one of the early Hassidic Masters, a direct disciple of the Maggid of Mezerich, who in turn was the chief disciple of the Ba'al Shem Tov. The Kedushat Levi was regarded as a phenomenal scholar, and wrote the first true masterpiece of Hassidic commentary on the Torah. But he was known, above all, as the "People's Defense Attorney." He loved his people, and always saw the best in them. He was famous for praying as if he were an advocate for the people of Israel, and audaciously demanding that God forgive them and immediately provide them with relief from their suffering.
So what will the Kedushat Levi do with these holidays which seem to move in the other direction, asking us to own up to our misdeeds and accept God's punishment? In this, the last of his commentaries on the High Holidays, we find him once again shifting the responsibity back to God. Along the way, he offers some startling psychological insights into how we judge ourselves.
1. What is the plain and simple meaning of the verse the Kedushat Levi quotes from Psalms?
2. In the parable, why does the king ask the servant to judge himself?
3. Why does the servant want the king to judge him instead?
4. How is the parable meant to explain our own teshuvah process during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and the role of God and prayer in that process?
5. Do you think it is true that we are our own harshest judges? Do you judge yourself more critically than others judge you?
6. What would it mean to turn your judgment over to a more gracious and compassionate force this year?