By: Rabbi Avrohom Czapnik
From the Jewish Journal
“If”, the opening word of this verse, teaches us an important Jewish concept. “If” represents potential. It indicates we have free choice to choose right and wrong and how to live a more elevated life. We may believe we are compelled to be someone or to do something because of our nature or how we were raised or because of the circumstances of our life. But the verse is teaching us we have the power of change- we can make choices, not always easy ones and yes our tendency or past may make it difficult to do the right thing, but we have free will to take the high road, refine our character and follow G-d’s path and commandments.
The latter part of the verse is also teaching us the concept of the consequences of our actions in the here and now. We may think that spiritual achievement receives spiritual rewards in a metaphysical existence. Though that is true, the Torah is teaching that our proper choices also have positive ramifications in this physical world too. When one makes the right moral choice, one transforms themselves to become a better person and change the world one act at a time.
As Aristotle said “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.”
When we live a life filled with Torah study and efforts to fulfill G-d’s will, we can also achieve true happiness, meaning and purpose.
And finally, G-d may bless us with His bounty because of the correct tough choices we make.
The ideas of the Almighty giving us success and gifts as tools to be able to serve Him is exemplified to me in the following story:
It was before Shabbat in Jerusalem’s busy Machaneh Yehuda Market when tragedy struck. A young girl ate a peach and chocked on the pit. An ambulance could not get through in time to save her because of the traffic around the market and unfortunately, she did not survive.
A meeting was held by ZAKA, an all-volunteer first responder organization. Yaakov Uri, the owner of a Uri’s Pizza, a popular Kosher Pizza Store in Jerusalem and a ZAKA volunteer and board member said, “We can’t allow a tragedy like this to happen again! I own a Pizza Store and we have to deliver pizza hot so we use scooters that can weave around traffic to get where we need to on time. We need to develop scooter ambulances to do the same but to save lives! Who knows maybe G-d made me a pizza man not to provide for my family but so that I could come up with this idea to save people!”
And that’s exactly what they did. The first responder motorcycles are equipped with medical equipment and have saved countless lives.
May we be inspired to use all we have in the service of the Almighty and His people.