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Nitzavim(Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20)

Choose Life

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..." (Deuteronomy, 30:19)


It's obvious that if one chooses life, then he or she will live, and if one chooses death, then he'll die. But our physical life and death wasn't what God was referring to. We all know that except for the rare few who are mentally ill, no one proactively chooses physical suicide. However, all of us - yes, ALL of us - commit spiritual and emotional suicide every day.

Just like God says, we all have before us the option to choose life or to choose death. Again, not in the physical sense but rather in the spiritual and emotional sense.

From the moment our alarm clock goes off in the morning there is life and death before us. You see, when you went to sleep the night before you did so with perfect clarity that you wanted to wake up early and "hit the ground running." You decided to choose life. But when the alarm clock goes off, you then immediately come up with powerful and compelling reasons to stay right in bed. And as you sleepily smack the snooze alarm you've chosen death. When the body's desires win over the soul's desire, death wins. If the soul wins, then life is chosen.

While it might sound harsh to call seven minutes more of extra sleep death, it's exactly what God was referring to. We can only have life when we make soul choices and do what's hard and right over body choices which are easy and wrong. The fact is, if you had a plane to catch for an exciting vacation, you would spring out of bed and wouldn't come up with even one good reason to stay there.

There's not a better or more satisfying feeling one can have than making good choices. If you're able to pass on an unnecessary second portion of cake, you choose life. Gobbling it down is choosing death. If you do what's hard by making an unexpected call to thank someone who helped you in the past, this is choosing life. Talking yourself out of it is choosing death. Running on your treadmill that you haven't used in months is choosing life. Using it as a coat rack is choosing death. Giving your time and money to those who need it is choosing life. Passing on this same opportunity is choosing death.

Basically, anything that takes effort and is hard to do, but makes you feel on the top of the world when you do it, is choosing life. But choosing death is easy. Not growing or challenging yourself is easy. Anyone can do that. And most of us do.

We choose death all day long. And we wonder why we're lifeless, unmotivated, discontent, and lacking all zest for living. This is because we're really not living. Instead, we're choosing death by distracting ourselves and killing ourselves one poor decision at a time.

Use the strength you know you have to start choosing life. God couldn't tell us to do this unless He also gave us the ability to fight the body and let the soul win.

We're ALL designed for greatness. We're designed for life. Make the right choices and you'll feel richer than you can ever imagine. Like God said, "... choose life, so that you will live." Choose life and you'll know what living really is.

September 9, 2006

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Visitor Comments: 17

(16) Anonymous, September 15, 2014 12:07 PM

Love this!

This is excellent and will be applied and shared. Thank you so much for posting this tremendous wisdom. Great author!

(15) Bernie Siegel, September 13, 2012 7:28 PM

god said choose life and not what is good

"There's not a better or more satisfying feeling one can have than making good choices" Yes but that can be because you are selfish and the good choice enhances your life and not that of others. To choose life is to choose what benefits the life of all living things. And that is when miracles will happen in your lifebecause of your choices. I place before you life and death; good and evil, choose life. So let go of the good and choose life.

(14) Dvirah, September 13, 2012 12:37 PM

Strength for Living

Chosing another 7 minutes of sleep could be a choice FOR life if it means rising in functioning condition vs forcing oneself out of bed and then walking around in a fog all day, unable to make good choices because one's head is not functioning!

(13) Sandi, September 5, 2010 12:31 AM

thoughtful, provacative, incomplete

This comes at a particulary poignnant moment in my life. However, often the difficult decisions are not those that make us feel good in the here and now, but move us along the path towards our utlimate goal. It is important to not only be reminded, but to recognize that each of us has a daily choice not only to live but to make this day as positive and fulfilling as possible.

(12) Meri, August 30, 2010 9:55 PM

A new perspective

Terrific commentary on this week's portion - I think this will give me strength and encouragement to "choose life" in many more aspects of my day!

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