Q. Why is Rosh HaShanah the Day of Judgment (Yom HaDin)? I thought Judgment Day came after death.
A. Judgment takes place both on Rosh HaShanah and after we die. On Rosh HaShanah, God looks at His world and its creatures, and determines their destiny.
As the Un’tanneh Tokef prayer reminds us, none can escape His scrutiny, as sheep cannot hide from the shepherd. We are, however, able to influence the judgment, depending on our deeds and decisions. If we are genuine in our resolutions, we can affect our own fate.
After death, on the other hand, the die is cast, though those who survive us and say Kaddish can help us spiritually by showing that we must have had merits to deserve loved ones who think of us.