Friday, September 10, 2010

Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die?

On Rosh Hashanah it is written and on Yom Kippur it is sealed:

How many will pass from the earth and how many will be created; who shall live and who shall die; who will die at his appointed time and who before his time; who by water and who by fire, who by sword, who by beast, who by famine, who by thirst, who by storm, who by plague, who by strangulation, and who by stoning. Who will rest and who will wander, who will live in harmony and who will be harried, who will enjoy tranquility and who will suffer, who will be impoverished and who will be enriched, who will be degraded and who will be exalted.

But repentance, prayer, and deeds of loving kindness can alter the severity of the decree!"

~From the Unetanneh Tokef, part of the traditional Rosh HaShanah liturgy

Rosh HaShanah services pack a punch. They're full of hope and wishes for a sweet new year on one hand, but a stark reminder of our mortality on the other. Add challenging passages from the Torah to the mix and you have the recipe for a powerful experience.

The services got me thinking about my issues with Judaism and G-d, about how the heck I'm supposed to carry out "deeds of loving kindness," and about recommitting myself to my writing. I don't have forever, after all. Life is fragile.

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