I watch with a chuckle from the sidelines. My brother-in-law is visiting, and he’s offering my kids a choice of treats: a smashed box of raisins or a shiny bar of chocolate. My 4-year-old takes in both options seriously, and then ceremoniously chooses the chocolate. Free choice is a game-changer

“Some choice,” I say out loud (my son is already munching on his bar). My brother-in-law looks up and says, “Just because it was obvious to you which option he’d prefer doesn’t mean it wasn’t free choice.”

I think about that; it’s true. When I decide to eat junk, it’s not because I’m a victim of a Viennese table or smorgasbord. I have chosen to allow certain foods into my system. And any other lifestyle choice that I make—whether it is regarding my physical, spiritual or emotional well-being—does not reflect my history or temperament as much as my active choice in the here and now.

Free choice is a game-changer.

G‑d says straight out in the Torah: “Choose life.” Choose what is good for your soul’s health. But unlike an animal, which is compelled by its instincts to act in a certain way, I have complete free choice to decide how I will act. G‑d’s knowledge of what I will ultimately decide doesn’t contradict that; I have the choice to listen or to rebel.

And there may just be a day when my son will choose raisins.

Thoughtstream: Today, I will re-evaluate my actions, actively choosing the life I want to lead.

(Adapted from Shaarei Emunah, p. 225)