Friday, September 19,2014
From Rabbi Peter Stein
If you go to the ice cream parlor, you face a choice between chocolate and vanilla and lots of other enticing flavors.
If you are shopping for shoes, you choose colors and styles and materials.
Each day, we face dozens of choices. Some are profound but many are insignificant. In life, we face countless choices, hopefully carving a path that is happy and fulfilling.
In Torah this week we turn to a familiar and dramatic reading, a portion that we will return to on the morning of Yom Kippur. “You stand here this day, all of you, before the Lord your God…I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life!”
What else would we choose? Of course, we hope and plan to be affirming and healthy in all that we do. However, the challenge put forth by our Torah portion reminds us that we need to be vigilant each and every day. We are, after all, human, and it requires a measure of self discipline and optimism to do the right thing. Especially in the context of beginning a new year, this portion is a sort of cheerleader…reminding us that when the sun comes up, we have the opportunity to do good things. Even when we face trials and tribulations, let us realize that we are created with reserves of strength and resilience.
The portion is Nitsavim-Vayelech. We will study it during Shabbat services on Friday and Saturday and during Torah study on Saturday morning. Then, after Shabbat ends, we will come together on Saturday night for Selichot. Selichot is the opening worship experience of the High Holy Days. We listen for the first time to the sacred words and melodies that urge us to do everything in our power to make the new year a sweet and successful one. The experience of coming together for Selichot is an important part of our preparation to choose life in the new year!
Rabbi Levy and I look forward to seeing you in the coming days.