Many times during the course of the Yamim Nora’im/Days of Awe, we sing the words “Zochraynu l’chayim, melech chafetz b’chayim, v’kotveinu b’sefer hachayim." (Remember us for life, Sovereign who wills into life, and inscribe us in the Book of Life.) The last three words of this song made me wonder, “What would we see if we could look into God’s Book of Life?
Would it look like an ancient grimoire, such as The Monster Book of Monsters owned by Hagrid in the “Harry Potter “ series? Would you need to stroke its spine, as he did, to get the book to settle down enough to be read? Life can be pretty scary, y’know…
Or maybe it would look like a diary, with a page for each person, their actions being written in indelible ink as they occur? Of course, all the pages would write themselves simultaneously. I imagine a giant book with pages flipping back and forth, or perhaps a self-writing Torah scroll.
Might it be like a “choose your own ending” version of a play, in which predetermined parts are written, and by making this or that choice, you determine which lines are said?
Perhaps it would look like the multiverse, with infinite possibilities, wherein each decision a person makes creates actual new worlds: and where each of these possible outcomes is already known by the Creator?
This last possibility is both comforting and alarming to me. If all outcomes are known, what does my existence have to show for itself? Do I have free will, or is the game rigged? And if I have endless possibilities, endless freedom, but each decision simultaneously creates and destroys worlds: such alarming and awesome power have you vested in me, God! It’s enough to make me indecisive on the one hand, and overconfident on the other. Perhaps that is why Jewish tradition says that we should carry two sayings : in one pocket,
“It is for my sake the world was created”,
and in the other pocket,
“I am but dust and ash.”
If we kept these sayings in the pockets of our minds, we might make better decisions with our time, our money and our mouths, and in so doing, inscribe OURSELVES in the Book of Life. May it be a best seller!
Ken y’hi ratzon/May it be the Divine will
Yael Fischman, 2022
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