Shalom Orzach

Second Choice

We are in the month of the year that entreats us perhaps more than any other to make choices. Elul, invites us to choose to repair, enhance and perhaps initiate relationships. This week’s portion of Ki Tavo, relays the stark results of bad choices; Moshe urges us to choose wisely, and next week always on the cusp of Rosh Hashana continuing his sermon, he famously inspires us to choose life. 30:19

הַֽעִדֹ֨תִי בָכֶ֣ם הַיּוֹם֘ אֶת־הַשָּׁמַ֣יִם וְאֶת־הָאָ֒רֶץ֒ הַֽחַיִּ֤ים וְהַמָּ֨וֶת֙ נָתַ֣תִּי לְפָנֶ֔יךָ הַבְּרָכָ֖ה וְהַקְּלָלָ֑ה וּבָֽחַרְתָּ֙ בַּֽחַיִּ֔ים לְמַ֥עַן תִּֽחְיֶ֖ה אַתָּ֥ה וְזַרְעֶֽךָ:

I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day: I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life so that you and your offspring will live

Tomorrow (Machar which will be Hayom “this day”) we are making (second) choices for elections in Israel. Second choices as we have already cast our vote a mere few months ago… So whilst we may not have the feeling of those in this week’s portion who bring First fruits to the Temple, none the less the incredibly emotional script known as vidui bikkurim, “the confession made over first fruits,” is worth reading again and used as a preamble and prayer as we go to vote. This verse is particularly poignant

הַשְׁקִ֩יפָה֩ מִמְּע֨וֹן קָדְשְׁךָ֜ מִן־הַשָּׁמַ֗יִם וּבָרֵ֤ךְ אֶת־עַמְּךָ֙ אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְאֵת֙ הָֽאֲדָמָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר נָתַ֖תָּה לָ֑נוּ כַּֽאֲשֶׁ֤ר נִשְׁבַּ֨עְתָּ֙ לַֽאֲבֹתֵ֔ינוּ אֶ֛רֶץ זָבַ֥ת חָלָ֖ב וּדְבָֽשׁ:

With slight poetic license …Look down from Your holy dwelling, from the heavens, and bless Your people Israel, with wisdom as they vote, and may the land which You have given to us, as You promised to our forefathers, be a land flowing with milk and honey, a land of plenty that distributes of its wealth and innovation with equality and compassion and without discrimination to all those who dwell in it, and for the benefit of those around the world.

About the Author
Shalom is a senior educator and consultant for The iCenter and serves as faculty for the Foundation for Jewish Camp . Prior, he served as the AVI CHAI Project Director and Director of Education in the Shlichut and Israel Fellows unit for the Jewish Agency. He has served as a consultant for the Jim Joseph Foundation and the Jewish Peoplehood Committee. Shalom was also a scholar on the prestigious Jerusalem Fellows Program, after which he served as the Executive Director of Jewish Renewal for United Jewish Israel Appeal (UJIA). Shalom is an acclaimed public speaker on contemporary Israel who brings extensive knowledge, humor and passion. He feels privileged to live in Jerusalem and loves sharing stories about life in the Land of so much Promise.
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