Yesterday’s prompt was “choose”, which is a powerful word, both in life and during this period of Elul. But today’s prompt – “commit” – is even more powerful in it’s capacity to help us fundamentally change who we are for the better.
“Choose” is the moment when we say “I’m going to”
“Commit” is when we say “I’m getting up now and doing it.”
With “choose”, we can still fall into the trap of the old phrase “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”. “When are you going to do it?” our better, higher, more disciplined selves ask. “In a minute,” our less ambitious selves answer. And one minute stretches into two into twelve into twenty.
“Choose” is the act of acknowledging we can see the better way.
But “commit” is where we begin the fight with our “evil” inclination, the yetzer ha-ra. As Rabbi Akiva Tatz points out in several of his books and lectures, we do not express our free will when we choose a pair of socks or which cereal we’ll eat in the morning. We express free will when we make a choice that we know to be correct, but which is deeply challenging for us. And, having made that choice, we commit to the action (or refraining from action, when it’s a negative one). The next time we face the choice, it (hopefully) comes a little easier. Until, soon after, it’s not a choice at all. It’s become Who We Are.
“Commit” is, therefore, the purest expression of our free will.