Is there really a choice?

October 1, 2009 by

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At the end of my morning run I saw the annual scene- traffic backed up during morning rush hour while municipal workers blocked the road in order to trim the palm trees in the median. I approached the crew’s supervisor who stood across the road from them barking out directions. ” Why, davka, at this hour do you do this every year?” I asked him. “Ain Breirah– we don’t have a choice,” he replied which is one of a handful of standard Israeli replies to absurd questions such as mine. As I continued to pursue the issue, he ignored me. Cars were backed up as far as I could see, their drivers already calculating how late they would arrive at work. I ran off.

Ain Breirah – or Yesh Breirah there is a choice?

My 17 year old daughter is aghast at the deal Israel struck with Hamas to exchange 20 female prisoners for a video tape of Gilad Shalit. “What’s the point?” she asked. “If the tape exists we know he is alive. If they are willing to do this then we know he is alive, so why pay such a huge price?” Ain Breirah. In lieu of producing the young man himself, procuring evidence is crucial for our collective conscience. We will enter into Sukkot with a little hope, or with more despair.

On the radio on the way to work listeners were asked to send text messages with the laws for building a kosher sukkah. The DJ referred us to Mishnah Sukkot for the full text but delighted in explaining that a sukkah can be built on a camel, that cloth walls are not kosher if they are not anchored properly, and the a canopy of trees over your patio cannot count as schach (covering for a roof). Ain Breirah. Many of us will enjoy our un-kosher sukkot but praise the Creator for the beautiful weather, perhaps for the rain, for being together.

Ain Breirah – but there is always a tension between Ain and Yesh Breirah and always we must struggle with our choices. But make them.

Chag Sameach

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