For us Jews, the time between Rosh Hashanah (The New Year) and Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) are known as The Days of Awe.
If I may take the liberty of paraphrasing the sacred liturgy, the basic concept is that during this time, God sits over a big book, writing out everyone’s destinies for the coming year. The major prayer we say in synagogue at both Rosh Hashanah and the fast day of Yom Kippur is the U’Netaneh Tokef, which gets down and dirty with the details, spelling out who will live and who will die by thirst, plague, strangulation and/or stoning, who will enjoy peace and who will be troubled, who will see their bank accounts fatten and who will see them drain.
It’s kind of nervewracking. Some people get a little freaked out that our destinies might be already written, that no matter how many miles we run or vitamins we take that we’ll end up with some terrible disease, or that a loved one will die no matter how much we pray.
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