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Have you ever had a hard decision to make? 

09/12/2017 03:41:14 PM


September 12, 2017
by Nancy Sheftel-Gomes

For many years, during the Amidah, I turned to the quotes in the meditations in the old blue prayer book we used and read the words from this week’s Torah portion, Nitzavim-Vayelech, two short chapters almost at the end of the Torah. ‘These mitzvot are not hard…..choose life.’

Commandments, covenants, choices,consequences and chances sums up the threads of Torah that are tied together in these chapters. They are the foundational teachings of Torah.

The universal message is one of inclusion, the Torah is for everyone from all walks of life: all races, all genders, all ages, all levels of society, Jews and non-Jews. And the opportunity to change, to turn, to return again and to try again is the inspiration.

For moderns, however, the idea that solutions to everyday problems, big and small can be found in the words of a 5,000 year old scroll, hand written in an archaic language, seems ludicrous. And if we read the words literally, it truly seems so. It seems impossible that my problem that seems so complex to me could have a solution in Torah, even though we revere Torah and have a culture built around Torah and display it beautifully in a special ark and praise its existence.

Whether we read Torah literally or metaphorically, or even read it at all, the relationship that we have with life and the world around each of us is governed by certain natural facts, that we all walk a path from birth to death that requires choices that have consequences. 

We are given the chance to continue to make choices. That is the covenant, the contract that life gives us, if as Moses commands us we choose life. Most hard decisions can be made following this precept- choose life.

Moses has reached the end of his own path, this is his final message. It is a message of hope reassuring us that hope is not in the heavens or across the seas, it is within our own hands and hearts.

At this point in the Jewish cycle of time we consider our own lives and how we have done our part. By focusing on the cycle of life and renewal we give ourselves the chance to start again comforted by the hope for the future and what is to come. 

Sat, February 17 2018 2 Adar 5778