Monday, September 19, 2011

Choose Life

Shabbat Nitzavim-Vayelech
D’varim  29:9 – 31:30
25 Elul 5771 / September 23-24

Choose Life
by Laura W, MH London Alumni

'Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family....But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life: I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you've got heroin? (Film: 'Trainspotting' Danny Boyle1996)

In this week’s parshah, Moses told the Israelites "I have set before you life and goodness, and death and evil; in that I command you this day to love G-d, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments... Life and death I have set before you, blessing and curse. And you shall choose life."

But how do we choose life? How do we let go of unhealthy addictions which distract us and take us further away from G-d. What is our personal 'Heroin' which is holding us back? 

According to the Talmud the first human was created on Rosh Hashana and it is here that we find a hint to the answer in the name Adam. The word Adam is made up of Aleph (א) the value of one, and Dam (דם) which means blood. G-d is One but our challenge as humans is that we are constantly being pulled in two directions upwards by the Aleph towards the infinite/ spiritual (Life) and downwards by the physical/ limited (Death).

Addiction can be described as 'continued involvement with a substance or activity despite the negative consequences associated with it' (Wikipedia). There are many things that start out easy but can trap us when we reach a point where it is no longer a choice. This can range from something that is seemingly trivial and subtle as not recycling efficiently to an extreme, as in Renton's case from Trainspotting, a potentially fatal drug habit.

Elul is the time to let go of our addictions. My blessing to everyone is to be able to take the opportunity of Rosh Hashana to develop healthier habits as individuals and as communities. I hope that this year we can take a big global humanitarian step towards G-d and bless ourselves with the choice of life.


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