G-d says in the Torah, (to paraphrase): I’m putting life and death in front of you- choose life!
Life is full of choices- from the moment we wake up to the moment we get into bed. Each choice is significant. What do we do with our choices... are these life affirming choices, like giving of our time/money to others, dropping a can of corn into the food donation box, being truthful in our speech or simply offering a smile to a stranger? Or are these choices that lead nowhere... consciously ignoring those who we can actively help?
If you scan the news headlines for just a short moment, it is clear that there is pain and need everywhere. The Oral Law in Pirkei Avot says (paraphrasing): You are not obligated to complete the work but you cannot desist from it... you cannot NOT get started even if you know you cannot finish it. There are no excuses.
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov had a famous saying, “Know that a person needs to cross a very very narrow bridge, and what is essential is not to be afraid. One should not be afraid at all.”
Like a narrow bridge the world is a scary place at times and as on a narrow bridge it is easy to become frozen with fear, unable to move. The same may happen in our own lives, unable to move and make choices. Rabbi Nachman is saying that the main thing is not to be afraid- to go ahead and make those life affirming choices because G-d/Hashem is with you.
When you follow Hashem’s guide to Life, the Torah, there should be no fear- only joy. Joy/Simcha comes from knowing you’ve done the right thing, that there are no doubts in your actions. When Hashem says - choose Life! - and you make choices and take action in life affirming ways, you should feel joy/Simcha in those choices and actions.
As we approach Yom Kippur, we should take a moment to consider our approach to life. Hopefully we can say that this coming year will be full of true Simcha for all the Jewish People and the world. We need not be afraid, because Hashem loves us and is with us always.
Gmar Chatima Tova, wishing that everyone be written and sealed in the Book of Life May you be blessed with ALL that you need in your life.