We learned that1 [the world is judged four times a year. The day that is called] "Rosh Hashanah" is the head of the year for kings [and therefore the world is judged on that day]. Isaac is called head [when gevura elevates to bina of Zeir Anpin], one head of the King [Zeir Anpin]. This place is called year [for Zeir Anpin is the place which is the secret of appointed times called "year'], and therefore all the inhabitants of the world pass before Him like a flock of sheep [each to be judged according to their deeds]. We therefore learned that Rosh Hashanah [is the Day of Judgment], for then Isaac [the aspect of gevura/judgment] abides there.

On Sukkot, judgment is pronounced in respect to water [which is in chesed. To explain:] This is the beginning of the King's right side. [chesed of Zeir Anpin elevates on the right side to become the sefira of chochmah, the top of the right line of Zeir Anpin] The rejoicing in water is everywhere when water is sprinkled at the base of the Altar or drawn (from the river during the ceremony of the drawing of the water), for water is known [as the secret of Kindness/chasadim] Therefore, everything [all the various sefirot] is included in these four times [in which the world is judged: chesed is revealed on Sukkot, gevura is revealed on Rosh Hashanah, tiferet is revealed on Shavuot and is revealed on Pesach].

Rabbi Yosi said: When you examine this
[Mishnah] there is everything in these four times: Abraham [standing for chesed], Isaac [standing for gevura], Jacob [standing for tiferet], and King David [standing for malchut]. The world is judged, and people are judged at these 4 times that these days [sefirot] rule in the world. Every day [in the course of the year], the books are open and deeds are recorded, yet no one heeds or lends an ear. The Torah gives testimony every day and says, "Whoever is simple, let him turn in here: for him that lacks understanding, she says to him" (Prov. 9:4) but no one listens to its voice.

We learned that when a man wakes up in the morning, witnesses
[that are angels] stand before him and warn him [not to sin on this particular day], and his soul warns him at every time and every hour. If he hears, well, but if he does not, the books are open and his deeds recorded. Rabbi Hiya said: Happy are the righteous, who are not afraid of judgment neither in this world nor in the World to Come. Hence it says, "But the righteous are as confidant as a young lion" (Prov. 28:1) and "the righteous shall inherit the earth." (Ps. 37:29)

BeRahamim LeHayyim: Why did the Ari and Chida include this section? What do they want us to learn?

"To everything, turn, turn, turn..." There is truly a time for everything. The month of Tishrei which begins on Rosh Hashanah is the 7th month (in Hebrew, 'Sheva') counting from Nissan, the first of months. Don't read Sheva /7th, rather Sovah/full. For the full panoply of emotions, desires, tastes, all flow in this month. How we interact with the times determines the year.

Unlike December 31st/January 1st, our Happy New Year wish is to have a Good and Sweet Year, Written and Sealed in the Book of Life. Not party today, for tomorrow we die, as in the secular world. Yes, New Year Resolutions are an important part of Teshuvah, but in addition to the promises to lose weight, stop smoking, or read more books, let's also focus on relationships: between self and G‑d, between self and fellow, and between our selves/complexes within.

Rosh Hashanah is the Day when we are judged, may it be G‑d's will that it is on the side of merit. But it is far from a time of sadness. In fact, sadness is not permitted in our service at all. Broken-heartedness - yes, but sadness and immobilizing depression - no. To reflect on our miss-takes, and to verbally admit them to G‑d, to our friends and family, and to ourselves, that is our task. This task is to be done with joy, and heaviness.

Ezra the prophet told the returning Jews not to afflict themselves on Rosh Hashanah but to return to their homes to sweet wine and fatty meat, the symbol of abundance. Sour foods are banned! To try to carry this intention on during this Sacred Period is as important as to not lose the mindfulness of reflection.

What does that above mean for your Rosh Hashanah, and why is it being revealed to you now?

Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
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