Free Will

There is always a choice to be made.

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Reprinted with permission from Torah Topics for Today.

Try telling a teacher, parent, or friend that you just HAD to do something they deem inappropriate. Nine times out of ten, the response will be "That's ridiculous! Nobody can force you to do something!" We have a deep belief in, and awareness of, our freedom to choose when making decisions.

In Vaera, this week's Torah portion, God informs Moses that He will harden Pharoah’s heart and Pharoah will refuse to release the Jews from captivity. Pharoah’s heart is "artificially" hardened, but the rest of us are in fact free to choose between right and wrong. The contrast is deliberate.

Free WillThroughout life, one encounters decisions. As we grow, the nature of these challenges shift, but what remains constant is our ability to choose our own path. For the adolescent this may take the form of taking school seriously, resisting smoking, or being kind to others. For people facing serious hardships, all they may have left to choose is how to react and set their attitude. There is always a choice to be made. Let’s celebrate the gift of choice!

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about free will and our ability to turn every moment into a victory by making proper choices.

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:

· What have friends pressured you to do that you didn’t want to do?

· Do you have any red lines? Anything you won’t do no matter what?

· What decisions are you most proud of that were hard to make?

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Rabbi Moshe Becker is a co-founder of the Jewish Renaissance Experience, an innovative Jewish education and outreach program in Westchester County, NY. He has done advanced research in Jewish Law, philosophy and history at The Jerusalem Kollel and with the Hashkafa Circle and has lectured and written extensively on these topics.