On this, our last Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah we read these words from Parashat Nitzavim: “See, I set before you this day life and prosperity, death and adversity.” (Deuteronomy 30:15)
Commenting on this verse, Rashi (12th Century Germany) writes, “if you do good there is life for you, and if you do evil there is death for you.” In other words, the choices we make to do good or ill in the world impact our lives. Who do we want to be? This is the fundamental question of the High Holy Days.
In his comments on this verse, Ramban (Moses ben Maimon, 14th Century Spain) writes, “it is in their power to walk in whichever they desire, and there is no power below or above that will withhold them or stop them.”
Our sages believed that we have free will. It is up to us to shape our lives, for good or ill. Over the next ten days we have the opportunity to examine who we are, what we do, and the choices we make. Our Torah reminds us what’s at stake.
Let’s make these High Holy Days count.
~Rabbi Dean Kertesz