Spring and the Purim Moon

Monday gratefuls: 9 degrees. Yet more Snow. The Dark. The Quiet. Ruth and Gabe coming up for Spring Break. Chamber Music. Inertia. Ginny and Janice. Bechira points. Kehillah. Mark still in Hafar. Exercise. The rain in K.L. Torrential. Travel. Pleasure. Guilty pleasure. Nuts. Pistachios. Salted peanuts. Alan and BBQ. Reney. Shiva.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: What’s App

One brief shining: Said to my friends I’m done with winter but winter is not done with me and sure enough around three pm yesterday the Snow came again, hard, like rain in straight lines, the cold came too as the temperature fell into single digits making the night perfect for more Snow; in bed I felt Snow melt on my head, my window still slightly open.


Open Snow and Weather5280 keep me informed. Open Snow has a handy feature that gives a Snow to date number for very specific areas. Intended for skiers tracking powder and the best Mountain conditions, it also works well for Mountain microclimates like Shadow Mountain. As of last night’s storm, we had 11 inches of new Snow bringing our running total to 136 inches for the year so far.

Down in Denver they had blizzard warnings. Ruth and Gabe had planned to come up today and stay through Thursday. They’re on spring break. Probably not gonna happen today. Maybe tomorrow. April is their mutual birthday month with Ruth turning 18! on April 4th and Gabe 16 on April 22th. This is Ruth’s last semester of public school. College next fall.

Beautiful, yes. I can see that. Yes, I’ve stayed too long without a break. Not the winter’s fault.


Which brings me to bechira, a Hebrew word for choice, especially as choice signifies free will. Mussar tradition talks about bechira points, choice points where we can exercise free will. According to Jewish tradition they’re not as common as you might think, though they’re not rare either. A bechira point occurs when the yetzer hara, the selfish inclination, and the yetzer hatov, the good inclination conflict. That is, when we choose between a selfish course of action, one we know is not the direction we need to go, and a good choice, one that enhances our life and the lives of others. In that moment we know, are conscious of, a choice. It is that knowing, that awareness that makes it a bechira point.

Let me give you two examples. Yesterday I had a ticket for a chamber music concert at St. Laurence Episcopal. Which is about as close to me as possible. Less than ten minutes. And I love chamber music. At 2:30, the concert was at 3:00, I looked at the Snow. I thought about parking in a small lot, being crowded into a small sanctuary. Sank back into my chair and continued watching a not very good movie.

The night before. The Purim speil at CBE. 7 pm. I wanted to go, intended to go. But as the time approached the same concerns cropped up, parking and a crowd. Added to that night time driving. I stayed home. Again.

In and of themselves neither choice was a big deal. It’s the pattern, the bechira point pattern, that matters. These choices reinforce my inertia, my Covid hangover fear of crowds, my I like it here where everything is comfortable tendency.

Here’s another way to consider this. I’m making choices that make sense for this time of my life, for my vulnerability as a cancer patient, for my safety. I need to consider the valence to give these choices, don’t I? They are still bechira points. The question becomes whether they are moving me forward in my life or hindering me. Right now I’m not sure I can tell.

Making clear and healthy decisions drives our lives forward, advancing our capacity to love ourselves and to bear the burden of the other. It is the awareness of choice points that allow us to exercise free will. Otherwise we have become habitual, conditioned, acculturated.