Every Choice You Make Makes You

This week’s Dvar Torah on Parashat Re'eh is written by Rabbi Norman S. Lipson, D.D. – Emeritus of Temple Dor Dorim in Weston. He is one of ourMelton & More faculty members. 

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Truth be told, some Torah portions are more interesting than others. Many are replete with exciting narratives, heroes, heroines and intricate family relationships. Other portions are filled with listings of mitzvot(commandments), do’s and don’ts, geographic descriptions as well as spiritually uplifting words..

This week’s Torah reading, the third of Moses’ final words to the Israelites, contains many of the above-mentioned topics and themes. In addition to warnings against idolatry, details concerning dietary restrictions, tithing, treatment of Hebrew slaves, there is also great specificity as to the proper sacrifices offered at the Pilgrim Festivals of Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot. With so many subjects, rituals and ceremonies appearing in it, we can become a bit overwhelmed with the details, running the risk of not seeing the forest because of the trees.

Filled with halachic teachings, rabbinic commentary, and festival rituals,everything within this Torah portion is premised upon its opening verses

 

“​Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse;

A blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day;

And a curse, if you will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you this day…”

 

The beauty and power of this Torah portion is that God is again reminding Israel of the concept of choice, free will-- Bechira Hofsheet-- that exists within each and every one of them. The gift of choice is the gift that keeps on giving, and makes us not just flesh and blood, but also children of God, just a little less than the angels. 

Every moment of every day, God presents us the opportunity of choice. No, I do not believe that God actively waits to either reward or punish; however, our decisions as to choice and ensuing actions, do bring their own consequences, their own “blessings” and “curses.”

As members of the American Jewish community, we make choices every day.These choices bring their own blessings and curses in tow, life and death choices affecting not only us, but our children and all who come after us. 

What choices?   Choosing to be an active participation in synagogue and the greater Jewish community; choosing to increase personal support for Israel; expanding one’s own Jewish knowledge through classes, personal study and taking advantage of the wealth of material on the internet.

For the first time in Jewish history, we are living in a totally voluntary Jewish community. Neither Government nor the Jewish community itself can force any Jew to maintain his or her membership in the Jewish People or institutions. Each of us chooses to belong, to participate, to be counted in the Jewish community.

Making the correct choice brings the blessing of a stronger Jewish community and Jew. Choosing incorrectly, brings about the curse of atrophy, collapse and demise of the Jewish community, and culturally impoverishes us, its members.

 

“​Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse;

A blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day;

And a curse, if you will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I , command you this day…”

 

God has set before us blessings and curses-- all dependent upon the choices we make.

May we always choose wisely and may those choices result in blessings for us, for all Israel, and the entire world.

Shabbat Shalom!

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