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Choose Life

By: Rabbi Rafi Rosenblum

ובחרת בחיים למען תחיה אתה וזרעך - choose life, in order that you and your kids will live (30, 19). Rav Moshe Feinstein asks, what does it mean that you should choose life in order that you and your kids will live. Couldn't it just say choose life (Torah and mitzvos) in order that you shall live? He answers, when we choose to do the right things, it should be in a way that our children (and those around us) see us making those decisions and learn from us to do the same. Rav Moshe was once asked why people who came to America in the 1920s and were willing to give up everything in order not to be mechalel Shabbos had children who were mechalel Shabbos. He answered that when the father would come home on Friday after being fired from his job, he would say "it is so hard to be Jew". The only message that the kids saw was that it is hard to be Jewish and since they weren't on the level of their parents, they didn't remain religious. If the fathers had come home and said "we're so lucky to be Jewish and be able to follow the Torah". Then the kids would have seen that it is great and exciting to be Jewish. That is what the pasuk means when it mentions our children. Choose life (Torah and mitzvos), but don't just do it because we need to. We should do it in a way that our kids will learn from us to make the same choice.

The Bobover Rebbe said that there are three ways to teach our children. Sometimes, we need to be strict with them. An even more effective method is to teach them through loving words. Both of these ways have their time and place. However, the best way to teach them is through our actions. When they see us act in a certain way, they are most likely to act the same way. This is true with all people. Let's make sure that we are acting in the proper way so that people see us and say that they also want to choose life and in this zechus we should all be written in the book of life. 

I would like to wish each and every one of you a fabulous Shabbos, a kesiva v'chasima tova, and a year filled with only happiness and bracha in everything that you do.