Four things cancel the decrees of Heaven:--Alms, prayer, change of name,
and reformation of conduct. Alms, as it is written (Prov. x. 2), "But
alms (more correctly, righteousness) delivereth from death." Prayer as
it is written (Ps. cvii. 6). "Then they cried unto the Lord in their
trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses." Change of name,
as it is said (Gen. xvii. 15, 16), "As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt
not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name." And after this
change of name it is written, "And I will bless her, and give thee a son
of her." Reformation of conduct, as it is written (Jonah iii. 10), "And
God saw their works," and "God repented of the evil," etc. Some say also
change of residence has the effect of turning back the decree of Heaven
(Gen. xii. 1), "And the Lord said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy
country;" and then it is said, "I will make of thee a great nation."
THE TALMUD, _Rosh Hashanah_, fol. 16, col. 2.