Throughout the history of the Jewish people, the time when the soul departs from this world has been regarded with great awe and trepidation. Many people would typically spend their last days deep in prayer and repentance, searching their hearts, and preparing to meet their Maker.

Yet one must also recognize that the culmination of a life on earth is not the end. Rather it represents a new beginning; one that builds upon all of the good thoughts, deeds and actions done throughout one's life.

A Parable

The following parable helps define this experience: A king sent his prince on a mission to a faraway land and gave him a scroll with instructions. The king ordered the prince to return only after accomplishing the mission. If the prince would fail and come back early, the king would be disappointed. The king would then send the prince back again to the faraway place.

After many long, hard years, the prince felt his time to return was approaching. He believed the goal was accomplished. However, he was not sure that he had done everything precisely as his father had instructed. He re-read the scroll again and again, matching its content with the reality before him. "Did I do it right? Am I ready to return home and face my father? Could I have done any better?" As the date approached, the young prince grew increasingly anxious.

Finally, the big day arrived and the prince stood before his father. Before relating his accomplishments, he begged the king to listen to his request. "Father, look favorably upon my achievements. Do not just view the result of my work; rather, look at the effort that I put into it. Please forgive me if I have fallen short in fulfilling your mission, for I want nothing but to please you." "

Like the prince, we are each put in this world with a mission, and before we return our soul to our Maker (better even, years before), we must review our life and spiritual accomplishments. We must ask, "Did I lead my life in concert with my soul's mission? Am I ready to meet my Maker? Did I fill my days with spirituality and holiness, or did I squander away my time with foolishness?"

This type of accounting can prepare one to face his Day of Judgment assured that the gates of Heaven will be opened wide upon one's arrival.