The Unetaneh Tokef has a long list of ways that people die, often violently, a way of shocking us into realizing our mortality. The original prayer, however, can be traumatizing. This version seeks a more empathetic approach to mortality.
Rabbi Max Chaiken, our Ten Minutes of Torah commentator for the Book of Deuteronomy, is the associate rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami in Los Angeles, CA. We talk to him about his Jewish journey and the ideas behind his commentaries.
I’m praying that these weeks of consolation before the High Holidays will give us the time to confront our sins and respond in ways that will help us to heal from our brokenness and find the courage and resolve to build a better year for all.
Trying to endure loss in isolation is more than painful; it puts our lives at risk. Rambam understood that when he described the consequences of not being connecting to Am Yisrael at times of trauma, including our fast days.