Wednesday, June 20, 2018

God writes in His holy Torah, “See I have placed before you today, the life and the good, the death and the evil, good and evil and you should choose life… And you choose life.” (Deuteronomy 30, 15, 19)

Life is full of choices, and the choices we make could either create light or darkness.

Balak, the king of Moav, made a bad choice by encouraging Bilaam, who according to our Sages had the same powers as Moshe, to curse the Jewish people, and as we know he was unsuccessful.

Why would Balak choose to curse the Jewish people? After all, he was a wise man. Didn’t he know that at the end he will be unsuccessful? The answer is straightforward. When someone gets into an egocentric mode, he is blinded by reality and that means he will do anything even though it means he will lose at the end.

Moshe, on the other hand, made the right choices. Even though there were times where Moshe was discouraged, criticized and looked down upon, he still continued leading the Jewish people and, at the end of his life, bestowing his blessings upon his nation.

As a Sephardic rabbi who has been in the rabbinate for close to 20 years, I cannot emphasize enough how meaningful it is for me to see my flock singing in unison the melodies sung on different joyful occasions and holidays. It is something unique and special that was written by our rabbis. Each country had its melodies and composers. By doing so we make the right choice—using our mouth positively, putting our ego aside and thinking about the good of the people by praising God and Am Israel.

This is why I chose to become a rabbi. What better job could you get?

By Rabbi Ilan Acoca

 Rabbi Ilan Acoca is the spiritual leader of the Sephardic Congregation of Fort Lee.