The Jewish Beliefs on Judgment Day

by James Stuart
Jewish followers observe a number of religious customs during Rosh Hashanah.

Jewish followers observe a number of religious customs during Rosh Hashanah.

In Judaism, the term "Judgment Day" may denote two separate occurrences. The first is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish holiday when followers believe that human beings are judged by God and all the events that will happen in the coming year are recorded. The other Judgment Day in the Jewish faith is the End of Days, when God judges and the world finally comes to an end.

Rosh Hashanah Beliefs

Judaism teaches that once a year, on differing dates in September, all of humanity passes by the eyes of God and receives judgment. God then opens three ledgers and inscribes each individual's name into one of them. The entirely righteous are placed in one ledger and allowed to live, the eternally damned are placed in another and doomed to die and the final group is somewhere in between and has the 10-day period between the end of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, to prove their merit to God.

Rosh Hashanah Practices

Rosh Hashanah follows the Jewish calender and therefore changes every year. It begins in the evening and lasts for two days, during which time Jewish adherents practice several customs to bring them closer to God. At the beginning of the first night, one member of the family lights candles no later than eight minutes after nightfall. On the second night, individuals light the candles again, but this time at the exact moment of nightfall, using an existing flame. Another important practice is reading Scripture that is only permissible at this time of year.

The Meal

The meal that Jewish followers eat during Rosh Hashanah is one of the most important parts of the holiday. Before the meal, a member of the family holds a cup of wine and recites a set of prayers called the "kiddush." During the meal, followers read further prayers while eating apples and honey, which symbolize hopes for a sweet year to come. Judaism similarly encourages eating other sweet foods and discourages sour or tart foods. Families may also eat other symbolic foods, such as carrots, whose Hebrew name sounds similar to the word for "to multiply."

End Times

Judgment Day also refers to the Jewish End of Days, when God judges humanity before the end of the world. The end of the world in Judaism features violent wars between various forces, but also the coming of the Messiah, who will lead mankind into a new era of peace. God resurrects the dead and ushers the good into the Garden of Eden and the wicked into a place of punishment called "Gehinnom." After this time, God judges humanity for the final time and only the very wicked cannot ascend into paradise.

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