“Behold, I have set before you today (choices)”

Moshe Kempinski

We are living in days in which light and darkness are mixed together. We are witnessing times when the lines between good and evil seem to be blurred, or totally non-existent.

When terror raises its ugly head, there are many well-meaning people who would rather try to explain away the root causes of this evil than confront and stop its rampage. This desire may be seen as laudable, and even logical, except that hesitancy regarding direct confrontation with evil is perceived by that evil simply as impotent weakness. Yet, in a world wherein confusion reigns, it is this trend of avoidance that is taking hold. In a world suffering under a fog of confusion regarding values, everything becomes relative and simple truths are deemed “unsophisticated.”

In this part of the world, clear thinking becomes critical for survival. Twenty years of the same type of cloudy judgment by Israel’s leaders has sown much pain and heartache in this battered land. Yitzchak Rabin, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon and even Binyamin Netanyahu have fallen prey to the lure of easy, yet unattainable, solutions. By so doing, they have all tilled and prepared the ground that nourishes evil and terror. The results of this has been the last war in Gaza. yet even more dramatically the results of such cloudy thinking has given birth to Isis, Boko Haram and all the other emergent waves of Islamic terror.

However, in the midst of all this pain and heartache, the people have, by necessity, become stronger and more determined. In the midst of sorrow, they have had to make decisions to reach beyond it, to the positive and the good. It is that optimism and strength that will eventually guide this people to safer and more secure harbors.

Such is the reality of this period of the people’s journey to their destiny. The birth pangs of this nation invariably involve a painful mixture of destruction and hope. In order to survive the destruction, one must continually focus on vision and hope.

That in fact has been the great miracle underlying the emergence of Isi and its ilk. In the past when attempting to describe Israel’s situation the response on the other side has been disbelief or anger. They would say things like” yon have become a fanatic…you are generalizing too much…it is just a small group of extremists”. Suddenly G-d fills these murderers with so much gall and arrogance that they feel a need to video and publicize their vicious acts of terror. The face of evil has been revealed. Never before have the choices been so clear and evident.

“Behold, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil,”(Deuteronomy 30:15)

These are choices. Hashem assures us that though we may have failed in our choices in the past the way is always open for new choices. As we have learnt from the Torah portion; “You stand this day, all of you, before HaShem your
G-d: your heads, your tribes, your elders, your officers, and every Israelite man; your young ones, your wives, the stranger in your gate; from your wood hewer to your water drawer.”( Deuteronomy 29:11)

The Chatam Sofer, is perplexed by the words “You stand this day….” Were they not standing before G-d earlier at Mt. Sinai? Were they not standing before Him at the shores of the Red Sea?

After everything the Israelites have gone through, their failures and their victories, their faith and their despondency, they may have lost the power to stand. Yet G-d is saying behold “You stand this day, all of you, before HaShem your G-d”. You are here standing and Hashem continues to give us the strength to choose again.This is the essence of relationships.

As we enter the season of the Days of Awe, we must remember then that Rosh Hashanah (the New Year) is not only the Day of Judgment, but it is also a time of joyful choices.

We must, in the midst of somewhat confusing times have the vision to see the hand of destiny.

In these days, we bless each other with the traditional blessing, “May you have a good and sweet new year.” As faithful Jews, we believe that all things are ultimately for the good, but we pray that G-d allows us to also sense the sweetness of those same things.

May we all be inscribed for a good and sweet new year.

Lerefuat Yehudit bat Golda Yocheved

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