See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. — Deuteronomy 30:15
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is a double portion, Nitzavim-Vayelech, from Deuteronomy 29:9–31:30. Nitzavim means “standing,” and Vayelech means “when he went.”
Recently, my husband and I took our family on a much-needed vacation to the Sea of Galilee. At the end of our vacation, full of great family time, my son asked me if I was sad that it was over. I answered that I was not upset the vacation was over — not because I did not have a good time, and not because it wouldn’t be nice to stay anther few days, but because I decided to choose to be positive and not to spend time feeling bad about things that I cannot control.
I explained to my son that while I could stew in feelings of frustration and disappointment, nothing good or constructive would come out of that. Instead, I made a conscious choice to feel gratitude for the time that we had and then move on to what God has in store for me next.
In this week’s Torah portion, Moses gives us a powerful reminder to choose a positive perspective throughout our lives. We read, “See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.” God gives us the option — in all situations — to choose life and prosperity or death and destruction.
We tend to assign too much significance to our external conditions, most of which we cannot control, and not enough weight to our internal perspective, which we can direct. In this verse, God tells us that when we choose to embrace life, have faith, be positive, and see the good in everyone and everything, we actually help shape our own destiny.
In contrast, we are also free to choose a negative outlook — one that focuses on what we lack instead of what we have, and which has no room for hope or faith in God. While we all experience moments of fear and even hopelessness, we don’t have to always feel those emotions. It’s always in our power to feel our pain and have our doubts, but then reconnect with God and choose life.
Our greatest power is our ability to choose how we live our lives — what we say, what we do, and what we believe in any given situation. When we focus our energy on those elements that we can control, we powerfully affect our lives and set ourselves up to receive God’s blessings.
Today, no matter what happens, choose life and prosperity by maintaining an attitude of faith, love, and gratitude.