Prepared by Rabbi Stephen Texon
On the last day of his life, Moshe gathers together all the people, both young and old, lowly and exalted, men and woman in a final initiation. The covenant includes not only those who are present, but even those generations yet unborn.
The parshah includes some of the most fundamental principles of the Jewish faith. The "unity of Israel", the "future redemption", "freedom of choice", and the "practicality of the Torah".
Maimonides say ;"Do not imagine that character is determined at birth. We have been given free will. Any person can become as righteous as Moshe or as wicked as Jereboam. We ourselves decide whether to make ourselves learned or ignorant, compassionate or cruel, generous or miserly. No one forces us, no one drags us along one path or the other.
We ourselves, by our own volition, choose our own way".
When God set out to create the world, legend tells us, the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet, which had been engraved on the holy crown, began to compete with one another. Each wanted to be the letter from which the world would be formed. After hearing all sides, God selected "Bet", the second letter of the alphabet, and began the Creation with the word "Bereshit", as we read, "Bereshit God created the heaven and the earth". Why the letter "Bet"? Because it is also the first letter of the word "Beracha", blessing. And because this letter is closed on three sides and open only in front to show that we are not permitted to investigate what is above or below, or what came before the world as we know it. We are charged to look forward only, toward the path of righteousness Kierkegaard said: "life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards."
In this week's Torah portion, God tells the Jewish people that He placed before them life and death. God then implores them to:"... choose life, so that you will live..." I believe that the Torah is not talking in the physical sense but rather in the spiritual and emotional sense.
Rabbi Ibn Gevirol, said:" Man is wise only while he searches for wisdom. If he thinks he has found it, he is a fool."
What is the difference between a wise person and a fool? Even fools will say a wise thing now and then. And the wisest will at times descend to foolishness. So what distinguishes a wise person from a fool? A fool is one who never has a change of mind. Conditions change, situations alter, and new times make new demands, but the fool remains the same.
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