The search for perfect justice is not for us, here, now. It is – as Moses taught the Israelites in the great song he sang at the end of his life – something that faith demands we leave to G-d, who alone knows the human heart, who alone knows what is just in a world of conflicting claims, and who will establish perfect justice at a time, and in a way, of His choosing, not ours.
I attempted to look at the words more metaphorically: Who shall be tormented by the fire of ambition … who shall hunger for companionship … who shall thirst for approval … who shall be strangled by insecurity … who shall be plagued by the pressures of conformity. It made more sense to me that way, as it broadened the scope of the potential universe.
On the night immediately following the 29th day of Elul and on the 30th day of Elul itself, people hedged their bets. They ceased work, went to the synagogue, recited the Rosh Hashanah prayers and blew the shofar, all in a tentative state of mind.