Elul 4: Choose

by Rebecca Einstein Schorr on 15 August 2018 @ 12:01 am

Courtesy: Shutterstock

One of the most powerful moments in the Torah comes in Deuteronomy 30:9:

עִידֹ֨תִי בָכֶ֣ם הַיּוֹם֮ אֶת־הַשָּׁמַ֣יִם וְאֶת־הָאָרֶץ֒ הַחַיִּ֤ים וְהַמָּ֙וֶת֙ נָתַ֣תִּי לְפָנֶ֔יךָ הַבְּרָכָ֖ה וְהַקְּלָלָ֑ה וּבָֽחַרְתָּ֙ בַּֽחַיִּ֔ים לְמַ֥עַן תִּחְיֶ֖ה אַתָּ֥ה וְזַרְעֶֽךָ׃

*I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day: I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life—if you and your offspring would live—

That’s quite a choice that God sets before us. Life and death, blessing and curse.

I imagine God looming large over our ancestors and offering these options. What must have been going through their minds? Was it a choice of free will? Or was God’s Presence coercive?

Choices are difficult to make under the very best of circumstances, and so many of us question our choices soon after we’ve made them. I had a voice teacher who taught me that a decision made in one particular moment might not be the right decision later. So we must make the best choice that we can, using all of the information that we have at that moment. Hindsight might provide additional information that would have yielded a different decision. And often we are able to redirect ourselves midcourse. But we shouldn’t castigate ourselves for the choice we made.

The High Holy Days offer us an annual chance to choose life. To correct our course. To revise prior decisions and make better ones.

If we are willing to choose…

*Hebrew text and translation courtesy of Sefaria.org.

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#BlogElul 2018

#BlogElul is a monthlong exploration of themes pertaining to the High Holy Days. Created by R’ Phyllis Sommer, the #BlogElul #ElulGram project allows participants to delve into topics as a way of preparing for the season.

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