This awesome thought is the focal point of Yom Kippur. Am I worthy to have a claim on life? Or, have I been born but lost my right to live? This is by far the most important question for man to ask. The trembling of the earlier generations on Erev Yom Kippur was indeed that of great pachad (fear) – not fear of punishment or death, but of not rising to the challenge of living in God’s presence and fulfilling one’s destiny!
Why is it, asks the Talmud, that children of the Sages rarely became talmudic scholars and pious Jews? Should it not have been they, more than anyone, who walked in the footsteps of their parents, reaching even greater heights in learning and genuine observance? How could it be that their parents, the Sages, did not provide them with the tools to do so? The answer has important implications for all of us.