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A Choice of Choices

A Choice of Choices


"See, I have placed before you blessing and curse." Thus opens this week's Torah reading of Re'eh (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17), as Moses reiterates, once again, the doctrine of Free Choice.

Freedom of choice. Without which, as Maimonides reminds us, religion is meaningless, morality a non-concept, a Torah superfluous.

In fact, not only have we been granted a free choice between good and evil, but also the option of which level on which to make this choice. A choice of choices, if you will:

a) There is good and there is evil. Blessing and curse, light and darkness. G‑d created both. We choose which of the two, or whichever combination thereof, shall define our existence.

b) In truth, there is only good. G‑d is the source of all reality; and since G‑d is the essence of good, only good is real. Just as there's no such thing as darkness—only light or its absence (which we call "darkness")--so too, there is only good or its absence. Or rather—since no place is devoid of His presence—good or its concealment. So the choice between good and evil is not a choice between two realities, but a choice between being and non-being, between reality and illusion.

c) Since "choice," by definition, is the free and uninhibited assertion of will; and since the intrinsic will of the human soul is for life and well-being; the only true choice there can be is the choice of good. But we have been granted freedom of choice, which means that we can choose not to choose; what we call "freedom of choice" is in fact the choice to exercise choice or to abnegate choice. When we do assert our true will—when we do choose—we invariably choose good.

Which is it—a, b, or c? That's up to you. That is the true meaning of "free choice": not that you may merely chose between two or more options presented to you by a higher authority, but that it is you who determines the level of reality upon which your conscious life unfolds. It is you who determines the distance between your life and its Source, and thus the form which "Free Choice" takes in your experience.

Choose your choice.

By Yanki Tauber; based on the teachings of the Rebbe.
Artwork by Sarah Kranz.
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mark nyc December 28, 2015

Choice is an illusion of spiritual darkness. Remove the darkness if you can and you will see, as a prophet does, that your life is set upon a fixed path. This is what is meant by 'man has free choice eventhough G-d knows all from begining to end' Reply

Eugina Giovanna Herrera New York City, New York June 2, 2015

Which is it a, b or c? Which is it, a, b or c?

Thank you for sharing. Reply

Dmitry Sheinin Arlington, VA June 30, 2014

C is the real choice whereas A is meaningless, and B is a theoretical outlook helpful conceptually but hardly practically. Reply

rhl April 21, 2011

light I disagree that there is only light and its absence. I personally love the dark , i find it peaceful and relaxing. I think we need both so I am not thrilled with that analogy.

Plus it is impossible to choose pure Good within the physical world we inhabit. Every choice we make contains good and bad, everything has trade offs. We can only aim to choose that which contains more good.

The Torah must illuminate to us the highest good in every choice. Sometimes I struggle to see that. Reply

R O White Cocoa, FL October 3, 2010

G-d gave Us the ability to choose First of all, G-d's Word is final. What He has said IS. No Question. So here lies what We call choice. One has to be so absolutely resolute in their decisions that not one thing moves them. What G-d said is that we have two options, but one choice. He has set before Us Life and death=Truth and deception. The question now is have You coronated Him L-rd and King of this Life that He gave Us to Live in His behalf. The ego has to be nullified along with preconcieved ideas in what is thought to be G-d. Here is the bottom line, comprehension is not required in obeying G-d. All He ever asks of Us is to Choose Him and what He Has already said in His Word, and in doing so, that is when We come into agreement with Him. Choosing Life, Choosing Reality and Choosing the Truth, HE IS ALL !!! Reply

anon September 2, 2010

free choice i have done vipassana meditation, where u learn to observe yourself. i can see in that the development which can lead to true free choice. I have yet to find this in Torah. So far Torah is just brainwashing to me. Reply

rhl September 2, 2010

free choice i am remembering a specific evening where i had everything in my hand that I had ever wanted. Deeply fulfilled. When i looked ahead into the future i saw my life for the next 10 years. NOW true freedom of choice says I should have seen 2 pathways. Yet i only saw one. at that moment I had no options given to me deep in my psyche. None that I could determine as an observant jewess. Torah is supposed to reveal the light, the choices. why did torah fail me? Reply

Rocky Stone Tulsa, OK August 17, 2009

I like this article Is the light the creator or is the creator the light? There is sun light, I have a light in my bedroom. What is the light? There is light all over, as long as I pay my billl. If it is knowledge, who knows, if it is love, who loves and who is being loved. Could there be no light and no absence of light? From my perspective, there is here (where I am) and every place (where I am not) from where you are, there is where you are, and where you are not. But, is there not a relationship between where you are and
where I am? Good heavens, I hope this makes sense.... It does from where I am coming from. I would defend the position that there is no light & therefore no place where there is no light. I would really like to know what you (not all the fantastic sages) think this light is. Reply

william john mcdowell London, england November 16, 2008

Good and evil Free will to choose, good pulling us one way and evil pulling us the other, that is the way from day one, free will is all very well, but when temptation comes knocking, we don't really have free will, in the fight for our souls. Reply

Anonymous Isabela, P.R. March 4, 2008

free will/freedom of choice if it's scriptual, where in the Bible is it noted that we have that? Reply

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