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A D'Var Torah from Rabbi Josh Hearshen

08/13/2020 05:15:05 PM


Rabbi Hearshen

“See I set before you today a blessing and a curse.” Those are the opening words of this week’s Torah Portion: Re’eh. This basic opening implies a very important lesson. God has given us two ways of living in this world… a choice. We have the power in our hands to choose how we see the world and how we experience reality. All too often, we fall back on our animal instincts and choose to live without intention. We choose to live as if all that we do is merely a response to the circumstances in which we are living. If we live lives of instinct and not lives of intent, we are slaves to our basic animal nature. But we can do better than that; we can step up and make sure that we do more than merely survive.

There is a popular term in Israel: אין ברירה – there is no choice. This term became popularized by the real world in which Israelis live. They feel that there are so many circumstances all around them that force them into their actions. But I think we need to reject this mentality. We cannot throw our hands up and say that we have no choice. Life is the sum total of the choices that we make. Every single minute, every hour, and every day, we are confronted with options. This or that, left or right, up or down. We do not HAVE to be or do any one thing. We have the choice to respond to the world as we each see fit.

As we are embarking on the High Holiday period we have a choice as well. We can choose to mope around and be upset that the holidays are impacted by COVID-19. That would be a choice that we have. But the alternative is to choose to look for ways to embrace the holidays in their altered appearance. It would be a mistake to throw up our hands and say that the holidays will be disappointing because we have no choice. Each of us has before us the two paths that Robert Frost so eloquently wrote about so many years back. We can travel down either one… it is up to us. I look forward to being on these various paths with all of you for years yet to come.

Shabbat Shalom.

Wed, January 27 2021 14 Shevat 5781