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    Choosing to act – Re’eh

    The sidra begins with Israel being told that they have a choice between life and death, good and evil. The choice they make is up to them.

    The problem is that the Torah makes it clear that God determines earthly events (it is He that sends the rain, He that controls the sun, He that chooses Israel as the Holy Land), so how can it also be possible that human beings have the freedom to choose their own path?

    Both principles are part of Judaism, the principle of determinism and the principle of free will.

    One explanation is that the external event (i.e. what happens to us) is beyond our control, but the internal event (the way we handle the external event) is up to us.

    Whatever the final answer is to the problem, it is clear that there is a partnership between man and God. God has control but so does man.

    A rather radical possibility is to say with GK Chesterton that man’s power lies in the distinction between choosing to act and refraining from acting.

    Chesterton says, “I believe in a fate that falls (on men) unless they act.”

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