You Can Still Change Your Destiny
The Unetaneh Tokef prayer recited during the Musaf service of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is a very stirring and emotional account of how your destiny for the coming year is determined. This prayer was written by Rabbi Amnon of Mainz, Germany, about one thousand years ago.
It portrays vividly how the High Holy Days is a time of judgment when people pass before Hashem Who inscribes their destiny for the coming year.
Like a shepherd pasturing his flock, passing them under his staff, so You make pass, count, calculate, and consider the soul of all human beings; and You apportion the fixed needs of all Your creatures and inscribe their destiny.
… who will live and who will die; who at his predestined time and who before his time; who [will die] 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, who by stoning. Who will live in harmony and who will be plagued, who will enjoy tranquility and who will suffer, who will be impoverished and who will be enriched, who will be lowered and who will be exalted.
These words are frightening! Do we really have no control over our fate? Pictures of loved ones who passed away the previous year come into mind further upsetting our equanimity.
Then the cantor says the following words.
However, repentance, prayer and charity remove the evil decree!
Giving charity and helping the less fortunate have a joyful chag is what can change your destiny that was decreed on Rosh Hashana! The verdict is not final! From now until Yom Kippur you have a special opportunity to change any negative decree G-d forbid. Once the verdict is sealed on Yom Kippur it is irreversible.
Click here for a poignant story that illustrates the point.