Changes ahead!

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

These are special days, the Ten Days of Repentance, and they are reflected in our prayer book. Changes in the text of the Shemoneh Esrei or Amidah prayer, bringing us to pause and focus on the words, are as follows:

There are two substitutions: Instead of "the holy God" we say "the holy King"; instead of "King who loves righteousness and justice," we say "the King of Judgment." There are four additions as well: "Remember us for life, King who desires life; inscribe us in the Book of Life, for your sake, O living God"; "Who is like You, merciful Father, who in compassion remembers His creatures for life"; "Inscribe all the children of your covenant for a good life"; and finally, "And in the Book of Life, blessing, peace and prosperity, deliverance, consolation and favorable decrees, may we and all Your people the House of Israel be remembered and inscribed before You for a happy life and for peace."

Certain words express the essence of these days: "King" and "life" repeat many times, while God is described as merciful, compassionate, and consoling. But it's not just a matter of the words themselves that make a difference, even when they involve timely requests appropriate for these days. The changed prayer text compels those who speed through the Amidah to stop a moment. To pay attention. To regard the words of the entire Amidah prayer differently. We are not changing the Amidah in a radical way; we are only refreshing it. Perhaps this is the purpose of these Ten Days of Repentance: to not necessarily make significant changes, but rather pay more attention to what's familiar, to our daily activities and habits, and make small, yet meaningful, changes in our routine.

May you be sealed in the Book of Life for good!

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