Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Bo (Exodus 10:1-13:16)

Killing Your Options Syrian Jews have a custom to sing a Hebrew poem at a brit milah (circumcision).
People worry about their wealth being, but not about their days fleeing         (Odam doeg al ibud domov v’einu doeg al ibud yomov)
Money will not help their yearning; the days that pass will not be returning.    (Damov einum ozrim, yomav einum chozrim).
Life is about making choices. When we were slaves in Egypt, we didn’t have the ability to choose in most areas of life. A slave’s life—when and where to eat, sleep, work, live, and everything else—is determined by the master. The Hebrew month of Nissan, the month the Jews were freed, was to be the first month for all future generations (Ex. 12:2) because this is truly when they started living—i.e., choosing.
Sforno comments that during the Egyptian slavery, “your time did not belong to you, rather you worked for others, to fulfill their will and therefore (in this month) your existence as a people of (free) choice began.”
It would be pointless to give moral responsibilities to people who don’t have control over their time. Being kind, helping the stranger and other ethical directives cannot be accomplished if guards and taskmasters stand over you day and night barking orders. Having choices means facing the reality that we are responsible to choose how we want to live our lives. Will I be passive and let life happen or will I be conscientious? Will I be a player or a spectator? “Some people think that our task on earth is to be pious,” remarked the Chofetz Chaim (1839-1933), “the truth is that our task is to be wise.”
In Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less author Greg McKeown says we need to give ourselves permission “to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone,” because only then “can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.” When we are on life’s treadmill, we are fatigued because we aren’t setting aside time to ask the difficult question, “what really matters to me?” One’s choice of career and how many hours a week he or she will give to it will depend on a question; is having a career my life’s goal or is it being in a committed relationship? Perhaps the person has both goals but one must choose which one is more important because a laser focus on career will put aside everything—including a committed relationship—for the pursuit of a career. 
The word decide comes from the Latin “cid,” literally meaning “to kill” (e.g. suicide, homicide, infanticide). Are you willing to kill options for a relationship? Are you willing to move or reduce your 80-hour work week? I know a brainy Ivy League educated computer scientist who was planning on pursuing a Ph.D. at a prestigious American university.He decided to get it in Canada because the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with was going to medical school there. When he completed his Ph.D. and got a job at an American university, she decided to follow him and do her residency in the States. Each of them chose the relationship, everything else followed. Every time we make a decision, we kill a different option. The only way to make decisions you will be able to live with is if you have clarity about what is really important to you. As the author of Essentialism says, “The ability to choose cannot be taken away or even given away—it can only be forgotten.” (p. 36).
What choices do you make? How happy (i.e. effective) are you with how you spend your day?
May we all have the clarity to make decisions that allow us to use our time in a way that will bring us fulfillment and peace of mind.