Each year we wonder, “who will live and who will die?” We know that the question is genuine, but this year it feels more urgent than it has in my lifetime.
By most measures human life has grown better, more prosperous and longer. Hunger and disease — the pandemic obviously aside — have declined. These processes are gradual, and don’t make the morning paper. Humanity as a whole lives in a more comfortable and kinder world than ever before.
Nonetheless there is so much that looms as danger. Amidst the pandemic, the fires, the social unrest, random outbursts of violence and so much more, we identify with the anxiety of our ancestors. On a deep level each of us must feel that we are so small and the forces that determine much of our lives so great.
That humility and recognition are the spirit of Yom Kippur. Before you, God, all of our gifts we are as passing shadows. We try our best and fail. We are grateful for Your gifts but too often squander them. Help us be better; help us grow; grant us another year of life to refashion our souls and reach beyond our limitations, and reach toward You.