Vayelech: Choose Life!

We can choose the life we live.

Rabbi S. Weiss,

Judaism לבן ריק
לבן ריק
Arutz 7

"And Moshe went..." begins our sedra of Vayelech. "But just where did Moshe go to?" you may ask.
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein offers another, quite amazing explanation.

One opinion is that Moshe went tent-to-tent among Bnei Yisrael, saying goodbye to his beloved people on the final day of his life. This was typical of Moshe's unique, sincere dedication to "outreach," as he humbly considered everyone to be on a level deserving of his personal attention.

But Rabbi Moshe Feinstein offers another, quite amazing explanation. Vayelech Moshe - "and Moshe went" - means that Moshe went willingly to his death; i.e., to fulfill G-d's command to him to die. No, Moshe did not want to die, nor did he choose to die, but he ultimately submitted willingly to the Almighty's dictate that his time had come.

But here is the unbelievable chidush: Had Moshe not been willing to submit to HaShem's will, says Rav Moshe (who, interestingly enough, shared the same birthday as Moshe Rabbeinu, Adar 7), and had he not gone voluntarily to die, then Moshe would have remained alive. For "just as one chooses whether or not to do a mitzvah, so Moshe bowed to G-d's decision (to now end his life)."

How can we understand this incredible statement? Do we mortals really have power over life and death? Can we just "order" ourselves to be 70, 80, even 120 years old? Can we simply choose not to become ill? Is that not G-d's exclusive domain, beyond the range of human ability?

We all know that people often "will themselves" to live until their birthday, a special occasion, etc. But Rav Moshe is telling us that a human being has power and control beyond even his most grandiose expectations.

We can achieve whatever goals we desire.

To a large extent, we decide our own fate. If we live up to our responsibilities and follow mitzvot, we can choose life in a very real sense; the benefits of our behavior perforce will flow to us. Alas, the reverse is also true; choosing not to keep mitzvot can bring negative consequences in its wake.

The lesson for Yom Kippur is fantastic, but true: we can choose the life we live. We can achieve whatever goals we desire, fulfill any aspiration we harbor, accomplish anything we truly want to, if we set our minds and hearts to it. Although we often believe that our skills are limited and our potential modest - that life controls us and not vice versa - in truth, there are no limits to what we can attain if only we are determined enough to reach our goal. What Man can perceive, Man (and Woman, of course!) can achieve.

May we be wise enough to set the right goals for ourselves, and courageous enough to then pursue them. G'mar Chatima Tovah!