Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die?
And on the Day of the Fast of Atonement it is sealed.
How many shall pass away and how many shall be born,
Who shall live and who shall die,
Who shall reach the end of his days and who shall not,
Who shall perish by water and who by fire,
Who by sword and who by wild beast,
Who by famine and who by thirst,
Who by earthquake and who by plague,
Who by strangulation and who by stoning,
Who shall have rest and who shall wander,
Who shall be at peace and who shall be pursued,
Who shall be at rest and who shall be tormented,
Who shall be exalted and who shall be brought low,
Who shall become rich and who shall be impoverished.
But repentance, prayer and righteousness avert the severe decree.*
Now, from a combination of empirical and theological perspectives, I have trouble believing this -- but I do believe something, though I can't pin down quite what. What, if anything, do you believe is decided (or happens) on Yom Kippur?
*It occurs to me that the paragraph above makes more sense if divorced from the text that surrounds it, which talks about everyone being judged for their actions. It's less implausible to believe that bad and good things will happen to us, that God knows it, and that He will change it if we are especially meritorious, than that everything that will go wrong in the next year is carefully calculated on account of some way we screwed up this year.