בראש השנה יכתבון וביום צום כפור יחתמון...ותשובה ותפילה וצדקה מעבירין את רע הגזרה
On Rosh Hashanah it is written, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed...but teshuvah, tefillah, and tzedakah pass the evil of the decree.
Sometimes, it seems like we can predict the future. Tax day will come in April, the Yankees will invariably have a winning record at the end of the season, Tucson will remain hot and dry, Phoenix will have traffic, some people who are healthy right now will not be so next year, and some people who are here with us now will not be here next year, despite anyone's best efforts. We say, "On Rosh Hashanah it is written, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed..." Some people believe this piyyut, liturgical poem, literally; God ordains the future. Many, however, do not believe that God has either the power, desire, or both to shape the exact course of everyone's life. Whatever one believes, though, things will happen that are outside of our control. Despite that, we affirm that "teshuvah (repentance), tefillah (prayer), and tzedakah (righteous giving) pass the evil of the decree." Things will happen that are outside of our control, but we can always respond. Sometimes, it is how we respond to the events in our lives and the events in others' lives that is as important or even more important than the event itself. Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor as well as a neurologist and psychiatrist, wrote, "Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." That can make all the difference.