Yom Kippur and Free Choice


Yom Kippur and Free Will


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Free Will

By Edith Brown

People never cease to amaze me. I have always believed right is right and wrong is wrong, but sometimes I have learned that if a person feels he can manipulate the system that wrong will become right and right will become wrong. And for the first time in my life I now understand that G-d forsaken awful term – free will.

We can hide under our head coverings and pray till the sun comes up, but cleansing of our souls will not come simply from fasting or merely attending a minyan regularly. The mystical purification has defied man from the beginning of time - since the forbidden apple. We have been granted temptation to our detriment, not to our enrichment -but in darkness we shall see light.

We would not dream of missing the sacred holy day of Yom Kippur. Now we must beg the forgiveness of G-d. For he is a merciful, loving and compassionate G-d. It is a miraculous time where we expect more from ourselves than any other day, but why? Here the opportunity presents itself to purge our deep inner sins to our creator. But whom are we fooling? Does sin not happen in our waking thoughts on the other days of the year also? Each day, each moment is a gift from G-d of trying to do better if we accept it as so. Have we made amends to those we caused harm to, or have we allowed foolish pride to lock into our hearts and lips? Beg the forgiveness of G-d for he is a merciful loving compassionate. G-d is just waiting to inscribe you in the precious Book of Life.

I once asked Rabbi Hillel Klavan of Washington, "Why must we follow the laws of the Torah?" And for the first time I received an answer that allowed for no more questions. He explained, "When I purchase an item in a store it comes with a specific set of directions, an owner's manual if you will." "The Torah too has a set of directions for living in the world that have been perfected for no man to tamper with." Yet we do, undeniably so.

We convince ourselves if we sin and no one finds out – than what's the big ruckus about? After all G-d can't really see us or can he?

I see people extending their arms beyond reach to their fellow man. I am in awe of their selfless gifts. They do not wonder where provisions and strength come from because they know.

And then there are these delicious words called scruples and morals. I don't exactly propose to know where they should fit into our lives. Lives that are tested daily by free will and an owner's manual. Some might think that there is no choice but to choose from because we were blessed as our creator mapped out the Torah perfectly to a T. But then again this might be too simple for us complicated beings.

Dottie Franco of Silver Spring always tells me, "Life is not a dress rehearsal," and right she is. Perfection we may never be, nor see on earth. But one thing I know for sure, the path of righteousness is ours for the taking.


from the August 2008 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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