Bechira and anochi
I can't resist posting an amazing vort of the Oheiv Yisrael, R' Avraham Yehoshua Heschel, on Parshas Toldos. Rikva felt kicking in her womb when she passed houses of avodah zarah worship; she felt kicking in her womb when she passed the beis medrash. She says, "Lamah zeh anochi?" and goes to seek the advice of a Navi. What troubled Rikva so much? The Oheiv Yisrael writes that Rikva thought she had one child in her womb. Every person, even a child, has to make certain choices. One person may choose to follow his heart to a house of avodah zarah; another person may choose to follow his heart into the beis medrash -- but we each must choose. Bechira chofshis is not just about how we behave -- it's about how we define ourselves, our sense of identity, our sense of self. Bechira is not about what you do -- it's about who you are. When Rivka felt what she thought was the same child kicking for both the beis medrash and the beis avodah zarah, she thought this child could not choose a path; she though this baby had no identity, no sense of self. "Lamah zeh Anochi?" -- "Where is the sense of 'I' that defines who this child is?"
The gift of bechira means that we are afforded the opportunity to define just who the "I" inside each of us is. Let's hope we choose wisely.
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