In the double Torah portion of "Nitzavim-Vayelech," right in the middle, there's an important message from the Torah.
It says, "I have set before you life and death, and you should choose life."
At first glance, this sentence might seem very obvious. It's saying that if we choose between life and death, we would choose life! Everyone naturally prefers life over death. But the Torah is hinting at something more profound.
The true essence of a person might consider choosing death. Many spiritual thinkers worldwide, people focused on matters of the spirit, suggest that it might be better for a person to leave this world and connect with the divine. There's a somewhat unhealthy tendency sometimes to see death as a mystical way to become entirely spiritual, and some people might be willing to pay the price of leaving their physical bodies – a kind of spiritual death.
But the Torah tells us something different. It says, "I have set before you life and death." While there might be thoughts, perhaps even noble ones, that suggest choosing death, the Torah's innovation is that we should encounter the divine through life. "And you should choose life." Why? Because through this choice, you will live, and your descendants will live on the Earth. It means you meet the Creator by living the reality of this world.
Another fundamental idea from these words is that a person can choose freely. You can choose between good and evil, between life and death. There's no external force apart from yourself that determines the path you take. This freedom of choice brings responsibility. If I choose, I can mess things up. But I can also build. This gives human life a moral significance, a person's desired meaning from this free choice when choosing life.