For an entire day we have been in the "Day of Atonement" mode, in a different reality.
We have been almost like angels, without eating and drinking.
We are about to part, to say our final words–after all our kavanot (intentions) and confessions and reckonings–and those words must aptly summarize and conclude everything.
The King was with us and heard us.
Now He is about to leave, and the King, as it were, says to us: Nu–in one sentence, ask what you will and I will grant it."
This is not the time to remain silent.
This is not the time for thoughts.
We should state briefly and succinctly, straight to the point, what it is we truly want.
There is no time now for elaborate meditations.
One who searches now for meditations is likely to search for them until after the Evening Prayer, at which point there will be no one to talk to anymore…
This is the time to be bold–not to hesitate, not to be bashful, not to make a reckoning.
Over and over, we said in the course of the day, "We are brazen, but You are compassionate and gracious."
That "we are brazen," we have shown you the entire year.
Now, You must show that You are "compassionate and gracious."
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From "The Essence of the Day Atones," in a new book just published, Change and Renewal by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz