Another name for Rosh Hashana is Yom Hadin, or the "Day of Judgment". That notion of "judgment" is based on the fact that everyone makes mistakes. We do not have unlimited energy and we cannot always live up to our own expectations, much less those of others. Teshuva or repentance, allows us to resolve these conflicts throughout the year but is particularly relevant during Rosh Hashana. Repentance consists of several steps in the Jewish tradition, including recognition and admission of the wrong doing, and renunciation of the action. Teshuva also requires restitution to the wronged party and and a promise not to repeat the offense.

The theme of repentance figures into most of the rituals and prayers of Rosh Hashana. In the synagogue, we modify some of the usual holiday prayers and add additional sections to highlight the importance of teshuva on Rosh Hashahna. In Unetaneh Tokef, the cantor (chazzan) prays that through repentance, prayer, and charity, our lot with be cast with the good of the world. Before a final declaration of faith, the chazzan sings about the transience of life, reminding us that all members of humanity have the same origins and the same fates.

But while prayers allow us to feel closer to G-d, teshuva demands that we also seek the forgiveness of people we have wronged over the past year. It is traditional for Jewish people on Rosh Hashana to reflect upon the events of the previous twelve months and apologize to those people they have hurt. The hope is that we can start the new year with a clean slate and avoid some of the past mistakes that hurt other people and ourselves in the.

Repentance is also the important concept in the ritual of tashlich, where we symbolically cast our sins away.

Though repentance is central to Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur (and the ten days in between) the hope of all of our prayers and apologies is that we will truly take steps towards becoming a better person in the year to come.

Other names for Rosh Hashanah: Yom Hazikaron , Yom Teruah