Our tradition teaches that we can have a direct and active role in changing our fate for the coming year. While our desire to change our lives is particularly strong during the days between The Jewish New Year, also considered the Day of Judgment. The period of the High Holidays is a time of introspection and atonement. The holiday is celebrated with the sounding of the shofar, lengthy prayers in synagogue, the eating of apples and honey, and round challah for a sweet and whole year. Tashlikh, casting bread on the water to symbolize the washing away of sins, also takes place on Rosh Hashana. and The holiest day of the Jewish year and the culmination of a season of self-reflection. Jews fast, abstain from other worldly pleasures, and gather in prayers that last throughout the day. Following Ne'ilah, the final prayers, during which Jews envision the Gates of Repentance closing, the shofar is sounded in one long blast to conclude the holy day. It is customary to begin building one's sukkah as soon as the day ends., we can make important changes all year long.
U’t’shuvah u’t’filah u’Charity. In Hebrew, the word tzedakah derives from the word for justice. Tzedakah is not seen as emanating from the kindness of one’s heart but, rather, as a communal obligation. ma’avirin et ro’a ha’g’zeirah.
Turning, prayer, and deeds can change our fate.
Help me to take a good look at my life and give me the courage to make changes I want to make. Guide me on my journey as I strive to make good changes, in myself and in the world in which I live.
Jewish tradition teaches that you can change your fate in several ways:
Tzedakah: Changing the world.
Use your resources and talents to create more justice in the world. Decide: What can you do this day … this week … this month … to make an immediate difference?
Tze’akah: Crying out.
You can cry out about all that’s unfair in the world, but you can choose other equally effective actions, such as letters, petitions, social action, prayers of words, and prayers of tears. Strategize: How can you increase the possibility that your most pressing outcry is heard?
Shinui ha’sheim: Changing your identity.
You can alter some aspect of your identity, expanding beyond the way others define you in your relationships and in your work. Ask yourself: How could a small adjustment in the way you see yourself allow you to recognize your own personal dreams and aspirations?
Shinui ma’aseh: Changing what you do.
You can break some old, familiar patterns of behavior, such as the way you relate to family, friends, or colleagues. Decide: If you were to commit yourself to establishing a new pattern of behavior at home, at work, or in the community, how could you increase the possibility that it becomes habit?
(As you meditate upon the change you will make)
May we all be remembered and recorded in the Book of Life, blessing, sustenance, and peace.
(High Holidays liturgy)
Rabbi Abraham and Sarah's much-longed-for son and the second Jewish patriarch. Isaac is nearly sacrificed by his father at God's command (Genesis 22). He is married to Rebecca and is the father of Esau and Jacob. His Hebrew name is Yitzchak. said: “Four things change a person’s fate, namely tzedakah, crying out, changing one’s conduct… and some say: changing one’s place.”
(Babylonian The rabbinic compendium of lore and legend composed between 200 and 500 CE. Study of the Talmud is the focus of rabbinic scholarship. The Talmud has two versions, the main Babylonian version (Bavli) and the smaller Jerusalem version (Yerushalmi). It is written in Rabbinic Hebrew and Aramaic.: Rosh Hashanah 16b)
Will you hear our regrets? Will you release us from being prisoners of habit? Will you accept our prayers… and tune in to our heart’s intent?
(Adapted from the A prayer recited Yom Kippur evening, widely known for its mournful, haunting melody. service)
Accordingly, throughout the entire year, one should always look at oneself as equally balanced between merit and sin, and the world as equally balanced between merit and sin. If one performs even one sin, one tips one’s balance and that of the entire world to the side of guilt and brings destruction upon oneself. [On the other hand,] if one performs even one Lit. Commandment. It is traditionally held that there are 613 mitzvot (plural) in Judaism, both postive commandments (mandating actions) and negative commandments (prohibiting actions). Mitzvah has also become colloquially assumed to mean the idea of a “good deed.", one tips one’s balance and that of the entire world to the side of merit and brings deliverance and salvation to oneself and others. This is implied by [Proverbs 10:25]: ” A righteous person is the foundation of the world” that is, one who acted righteously tipped the balance of the entire world to merit and saved it.
(Maimonides, Hilchot Teshuvah 3)
Because the world is a different place each moment I am alive, there is unlimited potential for change.
(Kerry M. Oliltzky and Lavan's younger daughter and Jacob's beloved wife second wife (after he is initially tricked into marrying her older sister, Leah). Rachel grieves throughout her life that she is barren while Leah is so fertile. Ultimately, Rachel gives birth to Joseph and dies in childbirth with Benjamin. Rachel is remembered as compassionate (she is said to still weep for her children), and infertile women often invoke Rachel as a kind of intercessor and visit her tomb on the road to Bethlehem. Sabbath, Preparing Your Heart for the High Holy Days)
Reprinted with permission from The Book of Jewish Sacred Practices: Clal’s Guide to Everyday & Holiday Rituals & Blessings, edited by Rabbi Irwin Kula and Vanessa L. Ochs, Ph.D., Jewish Lights, 2001.