This Friday, we enter a new year – 5770. At this time every year, we reflect back, we contemplate, we repent. We seek forgiveness from those we have offended, and we forgive those we have wronged. We recognize that our actions are our own, as are our thoughts, and our judgments are all too often just reflections of ourselves. We seek ways to improve our lives, to strengthen one another, and to become better individuals. We do so not because of motivation, rather out of obligation – to humanity, to community, to family, and to ourselves.
We read: On Rosh Hashanah it is inscribed,
And on Yom Kippur it is sealed.
How many shall pass away and how many shall be born,
Who shall live and who shall die,
Who shall reach the end of his days and who shall not,
Who shall perish by water and who by fire,
Who by sword and who by wild beast,
Who by famine and who by thirst,
Who by earthquake and who by plague,
Who by strangulation and who by stoning,
Who shall have rest and who shall wander,
Who shall be at peace and who shall be pursued,
Who shall be at rest and who shall be tormented,
Who shall be exalted and who shall be brought low,
Who shall become rich and who shall be impoverished.
But repentance, prayer and righteousness avert the severe decree.
Each year, these words strike deep at the core of our faith. They are neither a threat nor a promise; they are simply a belief. They are meant to unsettle the content, disrupt the status quo. They are designed to cause introspection, and they recognize that righteousness – doing good by one another, living morally and ethically, and taking a stand for those who cannot – is a duty of each and every one of us, regardless of faith.
When you take the time to think about the following words, to comb through them carefully, you cannot help but to fear a little. The fear comes not out of the uncertainty of what might be, rather it concerns who you are – how you are viewed, how you act, how you react, and how you leave your mark. These words inspire us to be more than we are, to do good, to love mercy, and to walk humbly. How do these words impact you?