literal and allegorical translations of the High Holiday prayer

by Rabbi Debra Orenstein

How many shall leave this world, and how many shall be born into it?
Who shall live, and who shall die?
Who shall live out the limit of a full lifespan, and who shall not?
Who shall perish by fire and who by water?
Who by sword and who by beast?
Who by hunger and who by thirst?
Who by earthquake and who by plague?
Who by strangling and who by stoning?
Who shall rest, and who shall wander?
Who shall be at peace, and who shall be tormented?
Who shall become poor, and who shall become rich?
Who shall be humbled, and who exalted?

How shall we leave the material world behind, and how shall we be reborn in it?
Who shall live fully and who shall die while still alive?
Who shall cut short their life with timewasters, and who shall lengthen their days?
Who shall perish by the fire of anger, and who by the flood of tears?
Who shall suffer the sword that cuts off relationships, and who shall be torn apart by beastly grudges?
Who shall hunger for meaning, and who shall thirst for revenge?
Whose life shall be shaken to the very foundation, and who shall spread misery like a plague?
Who shall choke on their own words, and who shall cast stones and blame?
Who shall rest in the knowledge that they have made the best choices they could, and who shall vacillate, never choosing?
Who shall be at peace, though burdened, and who shall be tormented no matter how blessed?
Who shall be poor in attitude, and who rich in gratitude?
Who shall be brought low, so as to rise with humility?
Who shall be lifted high, so as to extend a hand and lift up another?


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