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    Hard decisions – Re’eh

    free choiceThe sidra – like Nitzavim in a few weeks – opens with the stark choice with which every man is daily confronted – blessing or curse, life or death.

    We can understand the first set of options – have a good life, or don’t have a good life. In this verse we can’t be talking about material things – have a fat bank account, or don’t have a fat account; have a big house, a big car, or any of the other material status symbols of our generation, or live a more modest life.

    No – we’re talking about ethical and spiritual choices – faith, or despair; the bright side of life, or only the darkness; bring a smile to the other person’s face, or bring a scowl. None of this armoury of attitudes is forced on us from outside or above: they’re choices that are completely up to us.

    What about the second set of options – life, or death? Here we also can’t be taking about material things – whether we will reach old age, or whether something will cut our years short.

    No – we’re talking about attitudes. If we accentuate the positive, if we choose faith, hope, and service of others, we will enjoy life, however long or short its duration. But if we are always negative, we will find that we are experiencing death in the midst of life, that the sun is setting in the midst of the day.

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