Friday, September 19, 2014

Dvar Torah for Netzavim-Vayelech: Choose Life

This in my humble opinion is the climax and summary of the Five Books of Moses:
See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; in that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His ordinances; then thou shalt live and multiply, and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest in to possess it. But if thy heart turn away, and thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I declare unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish; ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over the Jordan to go in to possess it. I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed; to love the LORD thy God, to hearken to His voice, and to cleave unto Him; for that is thy life, and the length of thy days; that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD swore unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.
The Torah is making things very clear for anyone who is willing to listen, as Rashi explains:
[God says: “Even though you have free choice, nevertheless,] I instruct you to choose the portion of life.” It is like a man who says to his son, “Choose for yourself a fine portion of my estate,” and then directs him to the best portion, saying to him, “This [is the portion which] you should choose for yourself!” And regarding this, the verse says,“The Lord is my allotted portion and my cup; You guide my destiny” (Ps. 16:5). [The last clause, אַתָּה תּוֹמִי‏ךְ גּוֹרָלִי, literally means “You laid upon my lot.” That is to say:] “You laid my hand upon the good lot, saying, ‘Take this for yourself!’”
These passages are worth meditating upon, especially with the New Year and the Ten Days of Teshuvah before us.

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