I’m not in the predictions business.created at: 2013-09-03

Really, nobody should be. The CIA didn’t know that the Soviet Union was going to collapse, investment advisors consistently make the wrong call, and even meteorologists can swing and miss on snow totals in dramatic fashion. It’s no joke that the only things that are truly certain in the world are death and taxes.

Similarly, casinos make billions because no one really knows what will happen in sports. Two years ago the Red Sox had the ultimate dream team… and collapsed epically to miss the playoffs. We all know how last year went, and how this year they’ve surprisingly parlayed 69 wins into 82 and counting.

Fantasy football is no different. The reality is that everyone who drafts a team does so on past performance. I drafted Tom Brady and Calvin Johnson early on in my first draft because they have been historically talented at their positions, but in week one Brady could throw four picks in Buffalo, and Megatron might break his leg and be out for the season. Maybe Adrian Peterson will come back to earth after his superhuman return from ACL surgery last year, and maybe Colin Kaepernick will be a one-year wonder. I don’t know. And neither do you. And neither do the talking heads on TV.

Whether it’s real or fantasy, every football season is unpredictable. There are no guaranteed spots in the playoffs, and always some crazy surprises, like the Seahawks last year, or the insane ending to the Ravens-Broncos playoff game.

Enter Rosh Hashanah.

Rosh Hashanah is not about making predictions. It’s not about making resolutions. It’s not about taking things for granted. We are meant to take stock of the past year and reflect on it. We think about the bad and good events and deeds that transpired. And we admit that we don’t know what’s going to happen.

The Unetanneh Tokef prayer in the Musaf amidah on the high holidays validates this idea dramatically. We acknowledge that the Book of Life will open and close, and that the coming year will see the answering of questions like:

How many will pass from the earth and how many will be created?

Who will live and who will die?

Who will rest and who will wander?

Who will live in harmony and who will be harried?

Who will enjoy tranquility and who will suffer?

Who will be impoverished and who will be enriched?

Who will be degraded and who will be exalted?

It’s a lot to not know. It’s a sure thing that the things listed in Unetannah Tokef will happen to us, to our friends, our loved ones, and to everyone else on earth. But don’t despair, it’s not all bad. The conclusion of the prayer is meant to comfort us: “But repentance, prayer, and charity avert the severe decree!” Let’s hope so.

I wish you all a 5774 full of life and happiness and success, and urge you to check out the repentance, prayer, and charity theory.

Maybe that’s a prediction worth believing in.

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