Q. Is it true that six questions are asked of everyone when they knock at Heaven’s door?
A. What the Talmudic text says (Shabbat 31a/b) is, “When they bring a person to judgment they say to him, Were your dealings honest? Did you devote time to Torah? Did you engage in procreation? Did you look forward to salvation? Did you reason wisely? Did you deduce one thing from another?”
On the day of the final account and reckoning when you want to know, “Do I deserve the heavenly life of the next world?”, you will be asked by means of these questions, “Did you aspire towards heaven in this world?
The six things are deduced from the verse (Isa. 33:6),”There shall be 1. faith 2. in your times, 3. strength, 4. salvation, 5. wisdom and 6. knowledge”.
They are basic human activities, not necessarily measures of achievement but marks of commitment. To take two examples, one does not need to become a great scholar but to give time to Torah; one does not have to produce a set number of sons and daughters but to make procreation possible.
In the Talmud, Resh Lakish links each of the six with one of the six sections of the Mishnah:
• “Faith” is Zera’im, “Seeds”: a person’s trade or profession must be aspire to be worthy of God.
• “Your times” are Mo’ed, “Sacred Times”: every occasion must be dedicated to the Almighty.
• “Strength” is Nashim, “Women” (i.e. marriage and divorce): one’s personal and family life must bring strength to the family and community.
• “Salvation” is Nezikin, “Damages” (i.e. civil and criminal law): the law must bring peace and quality to society.
• “Wisdom” is Kodashim (“Sacred Things”): the intricate rules of Jewish law require careful study and analysis.
• “Knowledge” is Tohorot (“Pure Things”): the standards of pure and impure require attention based on study.
The six are essential for a good Jew, but they all require the additional dimension of piety, Yirat HaShem.