When two armies are locked in battle, the place where the struggle takes place is called the front line. This line is drawn at the place where the two forces meet. On either side, there is territory that belongs to that side and is thus not the location of battle. The front line moves and changes, but battle, generally speaking, occurs only where the two sides meet. Our moral choices can be thought of in a similar way. There are decisions that we have made in our lives so many times that they are no longer decisions. It is obvious to us that we will respond in particular ways to particular events. Those choices are within our territory. There are also choices we have never had to make and likely will never have to make. They are beyond the realm of our experience. They are firmly out of our territory. The place where these territories meet is the place of choice – bechirah. On the spectrum of what we know to be ethical and what we know to be unethical, we make choices only at the bechirah point. This is the point where our values come into conflict and thus the choices are not obvious. Each individual’s bechirah point is unique, and it moves as we grow and change. By recognizing the bechirah points in our lives, we are able to set our sights on expanding our moral territory and thus becoming better people." [AJWS paraphrase]
Suggested Discussion Questions:
1. Where are your bechira points - in social activism? Interpersonal relationships? Your relationship to your money?
2. How do we go about setting goals and moving our bechira points forward?
Time Period: Modern (Spinoza through post-WWII)