All About Estates

Prayer and Hope for Another Year

Most of us avoid talking about death, but in reality many of us think about it regularly. It may be reading the obits or consideration of the Supreme Court ruling regarding physician assisted death; none of us know what the future brings but death is a certainty. We just don’t know when and how.

The Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) was recently celebrated, closely followed by the 10 days of Awe leading to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It is the time for prayer and atonement so as to be inscribed in the Book of Life and to have another year. The Book of Life is then sealed on Yom Kippur. A well known poem called Unetaneh Tokef—Let Us Cede Power- was written over 1000 years ago continues to be sung every year in synagogues around the world. Many of us may know the revised version of this poem by Leonard Cohen, which follows below the traditional chant.

Unataneh Tokef: How many shall die and how many shall be born
Who shall live and who shall die
Who at the measure of days and who before
Who by fire and who by water
Who by the sword and who by wild beasts
Who by hunger and who by thirst
Who by earthquake and who by plague
Who by strangling and who by stoning
Who shall have rest and who shall go wandering
Who will be tranquil and who shall be harassed
Who shall be at ease and who shall be afflicted
Who shall become poor and who shall become rich
Who shall be brought low and who shall be raised high.

Who By Fire by Leonard Cohen: “And who by fire, who by water,
Who in the sunshine, who in the night time,
Who by high ordeal, who by common trial,
Who in your merry merry month of may,
Who by very slow decay,
And who shall I say is calling?

And who in her lonely slip, who by barbiturate,
Who in these realms of love, who by something blunt,
And who by avalanche, who by powder,
Who for his greed, who for his hunger,
And who shall I say is calling?

And who by brave assent, who by accident,
Who in solitude, who in this mirror,
Who by his lady’s command, who by his own hand,
Who in mortal chains, who in power,
And who shall I say is calling?”
Regardless of which version you sing, it is  a powerful poem timeless in its ability to make us reflect on our past and hope for the future.

About Audrey Miller
Email: amiller@eldercaring.ca About: Audrey Miller, Managing Director of Elder Caring Inc. has over 25 years social work and rehabilitation experience working with older individuals and their families. She advises the financial, insurance, legal and business communities regarding elder care issues. Audrey is a recognized expert in her field.