Human Frailty and Human Value

Rabbi Elie Kaunfer

A Theological Exploration of Unetaneh Tokef

Much of the power of the High Holidays lies in our coming face to face with the reality of human frailty. People are judged, God is the judge. People are the sheep, God is the shepherd. And perhaps most forcefully: People are dust and will return to dust, while God is the living and eternal king. But the picture of Unetaneh Tokef, from which those images derive, is actually much more complex. By looking at the source texts for this poem, we will open up new layers of meaning.