Our fate hangs in the balance during these Days of Awe, the Yamim Noraim, in more than only the traditional spiritual sense this year.
The days from Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur are also called the Ten Days of Repentance, a time of serious introspection where we recognize our wrongs of the past year and go about trying to right those wrongs before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, hoping to be sealed in God's Book of Life for the coming year.
Yom Kippur falls on Shabbat, Friday-Saturday, this year.
In the stirring words of the ancient liturgy:
"On Rosh Hashanah will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed
how many will pass from the earth and how many will be created;
who will live and who will die;
who will die at his predestined 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 CHARITY
[tshuvah, tfilah, tzedaka]
Remove the evil of the Decree!
This means that by our re-turning, praying, and doing acts of kindness and charity we can change everything, even change God's mind and bring his mercy upon us!