Yom Kippur begins today. It is one of the holiest days of the Jewish calendar. Standing today in line at the post office a Hispanic lady suggested that since it was the biggest Jewish holiday there would be a lot of presents.
There are no presents however, but the one we can give ourselves because on Yom Kippur we can choose life. In Parshas Nitzavim a few weeks ago, God offers us a choice between life and death. A choice only we can make.
It is a choice that individuals make and it is a choice that nations and civilizations make as well. Such an idea might have been academic a few decades ago but today it is very real. We stand on the brink of life and death and only we can choose to live by choosing the path of life.
The idea that someone, let alone that entire nations would choose the path of death seems bizarre, yet that is exactly what we see in the world around us, from Muslims who urge their children to grow up and die as suicide bombers to the effete elites who egg them on and pave the way for their own destruction, from eugenics to euthanasia to terrorism and mass murder. The political, military and cultural threats come from those who have chosen the path of death.
The culture of death is embodied by different societies and classes and yet the common denominator is that all they have to offer is death. In more primitive societies it may be as direct as the Jihadist blade or bomb, in the first world it may be a slow degenerative decay, poison wrapped in the candy of self-indulgence, but all lead to the same place in the end.
The best present therefore that we can give ourselves and our societies is to choose life. Choose to live and reject the culture of death.
This does not mean animal survival, but to thrive by bringing life, whether in marriage and family, in building businesses and relationships that thrive, in being genuine role models and teachers, in defeating those who represent the culture of death, politically and militarily to insure the victory of life over death.
This is not a simple process. It requires looking at ourselves, at our communities, at our nation and examining the roots of corruption at all levels, the forces that lead toward rot and decay, and cutting them out so that we may thrive. It requires finding our strengths, repenting of our mistakes and fighting for the future.
To choose life is to recognize that the alternative is death. That in a nutshell is the free will that God has granted us, to make our mistakes and choose, to build or to destroy. We can ask Him for help but the choice is in our hands to decide whether we choose Life or Death. Life for ourselves, our nations and our peoples. Therefore choose life.