Rosh Hashana, God judges the world (and all the people therein), but
their fates are not sealed until 10 days later, on Yom Kippur. It is
during these ten days that we must present a compelling case of our
worthiness to the heavenly court.

These ten days that start on Rosh Hashana and conclude on Yom Kippur, are known as the Aseret Y’mei Teshuva, Ten
Days of Repentance. During this time, people go out of their way to
make amends both with their fellow humans and with God. In addition to
the acts of teshuva, the sages of the Talmud altered the words of the Amidah in order to create the mind-set necessary for this time of year:

ben Chin’neh’na the Elder also said in the name of Rav: Throughout the
year one says in the prayer [Amidah], ‘The holy God’, and ‘King who
loves righteousness and judgment,’ except during the ten days between
the New Year and the Day of Atonement, when he says, ‘The holy King’ and
‘The King of judgment’” (Berachot 12b).

While the Talmud
specifically mentions these two changes, there are several other verses
of the Amidah that are altered during the Aseret Y’mei Teshuva (all of which are noted in most prayerbooks).These changes are discussed at length in the codes of halacha. The
general consensus is that if the change from “King who loves
righteousness and judgment” to “the King of judgment,” or any of the
other alterations not singled out in this Treat, is not made, the Amidah
need not be repeated. However, the acknowledgment of God as King is so
important that those who forget to change “the holy God” to “the holy
King,” are instructed to repeat the entire prayer.

This Treat is reposted in honor of the Aseret Y’mei Teshuva.

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