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2019 Re'eh

08/19/2019 02:50:49 PM


Rabbi Glick: Choose Life, Choose Blessing

The Talmud tells us that at every moment there is a heavenly voice ringing out, crying: you can go this way or you can go that way. Choose ...

This is a very deep teaching, perhaps the key to all of life.


We pick the timber of our existence, the pattern of our life.

In each and every situation, no matter what it is, we have a choice.

There is a prominent rabbi whom I respect, although we have different views on God.  What is God for him? God is that voice within that keeps drawing us at every instant to choose the path of holiness, growth, self-fulfillment.

Our belief in human choice, in free will, is so powerful that when the Torah says that God hardened pharaoh’s heart, the commentators go on for endless pages debating about how could God do that? How can God take away Pharaoh's free will? It goes against our fundamental understanding of the nature of our lives.

Our parsha begins: Reeh, anochi notein lefnaichem et habracha vet haklalah—Behold I place before you this day the blessing and the curse.

We can pick the path of blessing or we can choose the path that is cursed - it’s all before us. Reeh, we are called to see, to witness, to understand the choice before us.

Nowhere is it put more succinctly, more starkly than in these first words of our parashah.

See—I place before you today, blessing and curse, berachah uklelala.

How Will You see?

In our days, we may not use the words the curses.

But the same urgent message is there all the same. It is the central message of Judaism: choose the blessing in our life, to choose the path of life, of gratitude; because once we let go of the path of blessing, we easily find ourselves somewhere else... There it is difficult to leave.

We may not be able to control everything that happens to us but we do have a choice about how we will respond.  We have a choice as to how we will see the world, and the choice of how we act and react to what life sends our way...

I remember having a conversation with my father as a young adult.

I was coming back from college in England. He had picked me up from the airport or train station in the South of France where we lived. On the way home, we had a very deep conversation about life.

He was talking about how the world is always speaking and appearing to all of us at different levels. Depending on where we are, we receive it differently, we pick up a different frequency of reality; that frequency determines everything, our likes and dislikes, our internal state, leading to the clothes you wear, the music you like, how you want to pass your time.

This is a Belief of Kabbalah

Everything in the world is composed of the energies of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, the ten different Sefirot, or Divine cosmic attributes. Depending on which one of the ten we resonate with and at what level, that is how we will experience reality—however high we reach up into the heart of the cosmic tree of life—that is the place from which we will live life—we see the whole world through those eyes.

It is a scientific process.

We choose how we see life and this leads to how we perceive reality and act.

If you only are centered in yourself and focused on your ego, you only care about what you do. You see the world as a battle of egos.

If you see others and the suffering they are going through, then a part of your life will be to help others and to repair the brokenness of the world.

We think it is a question of disposition.

Of character, of genes.

But Judaism is libertarian in its understanding of human nature.

It believes in absolute freedom and free will.

There is Divine compassion for our circumstances.

But it is we who choose our path in life.

There is a person I very much admire who has dealt with terrible back surgeries his whole life, including having to take serious pain management medicine for decades. It keeps getting worse and worse. Yet, I have never heard him truly complain. You have to adapt, that’s what life is about I have heard him say over and over again.

He always has a smile on his face, not easy to do.

Choose blessing.

Make it a blessing the way you operate in the world.

Make it a blessing as the foundation of your life...

Life Is a Choice

When we read the Torah and see the lives of our foreparents, we all have a mixed package...we all have our one has a perfect what will we focus on?

What are we seeing?

What are listening to?

Are we choosing life?

Are we choosing the path of blessing or the path of self-destruction and darkness?

We see it in our national character.

What other people say lechaim, to life, when taking a drink?

We work with whatever we have. In all situations, under all manner of circumstances.

The whole Jewish story is about choosing life and blessing

If this happened to us we say—then I take it as part of life, as a path that will one day lead to blessing.

It is easier at some times than others, of course.

These past years, months, weeks. We are all having to deal with very difficult news all of the time. Our world, the country.

Week after week.

So many unseemingly parts of our society coming up to the surface again that we thought had gone.

We wonder about our future our families’ future.

On one hand there is a teaching about where to put our minds throughout all THE TURMOIL.

My mother in law was with us last week and we do not own a television. She had to wean off her addiction to MSNBC. She said it’s been so nice to not have the television on all day long.

On the other hand, we cannot ignore what is happening.

Just as we, as individuals and a people, have to choose blessing.

It is up to our world to decide which path are we going to choose: the blessing or the curse.

Just as it is for every individual.

When we bring blessing, we are one small part of bringing blessing to the whole.

Yetzer ha tov yeter ha ra. A good inclination and a not so good inclination.

The angels on each shoulder—that’s in the Talmud by the way.  It says we all have two angels—one the good inclination the other the bad inclination—whispering into our ears.

So do countries, and humanity.

We are all joined together...

Called upon to make the right choice.

Part of our task is to indicate which direction we want to go in our lives and to be purposeful about it.

What is it to choose blessing? It is an intention. Not one way. But a way of life.

As the message of our prophets and of our scripture is.

It is Against Indifference


We have to be clear eyed—see what is before us. The Blessing and the curse.

It is why the message of the prophets is still so vivid to us a millennia later.


They were clear eyed about the world and ABOUT human beings:

God does not desire ritual, if it is devoid of truly feeling, if you leave the widow and the orphan languishing

DO not bring God sacrifices at the appointed times and seasons, if at the same time, you are worshiping other gods.

God cannot be fooled, the universe sees what is in the heart of people.

Yet, He/She cannot force us to make the right decision.

It has to come from within our own heart.

Free will, the human gift of choosing...

HaBerachah uhaklalah.

Will we choose blessing in our life? will we find the strength and courage to be free?

A friend of mine, went to his rabbi and told him: "I’m feeling out of sorts, I’m having a hard time," the rabbi replied: "Don’t feel out of sorts! just refuse to accept that path." It was like a sudden shake up for my friend, a clearing of his head and heart. "Yes," he thought to himself, "I can do that. i can choose to go a different way..."

Choose Blessing

Choose life.

It is one of the greatest sayings of the Torah, a saying that is uplifting, empowering - an exclamation of faith in human beings and the power of free will...

Life has given us both good and bad, both joy and sorrow, success and failure. it is up to us to choose how we will respond. it is up to us to choose to live with purpose and meaning.

Shabbat shalom


Thu, May 19 2022 18 Iyyar 5782