These two words – ‘Choose life’ – can be described as the most compelling, memorable, amazing, incredible, fundamental concept that can influence our lives in the most profound way!
Hashem grants us the freedom and power to choose to grow to change. It can overwhelm us because it puts us in the driver’s seat, so to speak, to be responsible for our choices and to learn to live with the concept, “On the path one is determined to go Hashem will lead him,” Makos 10b.
Why is this teaching placed towards the end of Hashem’s Torah in Devarim 30:19? Shouldn’t it be somewhere near the beginning of Bereishis? Perhaps it is actually found all over the Torah by every mitzvah. The fact that the Torah instructs us in 613 mitzvos demonstrates our ability to choose to fulfill all of them.
The Gemara Avoda Zara 17a tells of an individual who had been a serial sinner who then repents and becomes a Sage who receives ‘Semicha’ from Hashem!
His name was Elozor ben Durdaya and he had a track record of the most terrible transgressions. One day, after he spent a lot of money, time and effort to go to a place of ill repute, he received the surprise of his life.
Hashem has a system of giving people some time and space to think. You can choose how to respond and react. That can be the key to your growth and happiness. [You may have heard this quote – “Happiness does not depend on what you have, as much as it depends on how you think about it!”]
You can choose to be more patient, understanding and considerate…
This person blew some air and said, “Just as this air does not return to its place, so too, you will never return back to Hashem.”
We learn in Avos 4:1 that a wise person learns from everyone even from the least likely candidates, to provide Mussar instruction.
Why would someone deep into sins make such a comment? Ben Yehoyoda explains the evil inclination may have a tactic to try to get a person to sin even more by suggesting that it is hopeless for him to try to repent.
It had the reverse effect. Elozor realized that Hashem was providing a chance for him to pause and rethink his goals. What does blowing air remind us of?
In the Torah we learn that Hashem blew into man’s nostrils the breath of life, Bereishis 2:7. This means we have an inner connection with Hashem, a bond of greatness forever.
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