Bechira points - the moments of choice between continuing to act out of habit and knowing that we have the personal power to act in a way that truly benefits ourselves and others.


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Bechira Point – “A choice point.” נקודת בחירה Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler writes that humans have free will only at the point where one’s sense of what is true meets ones sense of what is false. We experience this as confusion and find it hard to make decisions at these points. The more we can choose a positive direction, the easier it gets in the future to choose a positive direction. According to Rabbi Dessler, everyone is born with different behira points based on both nature and nurture. However, we are completely responsible for our decisions at these behira points.

Key Ideas:

Our choice-points are the growing edge of our soul curriculum
Each positive choice we make leads to spiritual growth
The location of our choice points is a matter of nature and nurture

Focus Phrases:

May I pause before I speak or act.
May I respond from wisdom and compassion,
May I not react from habit or fear.

Bechirah Point study materials for Board of Trustees meeting:

Mindfulness:

On the Intersection of Bechirah Points and Mindfulness (Laura Goldman, Chochmat HaLev, Berkeley CA):

Hitlamdut and Behira Points (Rabbi Lisa Gelber, JTS, New York, NY)

Sources:

Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler in Strive For Truth on Bechirah Points:
Hebrew text:
English text:


Sermons:


"Fill our Hands with Your Blessing" (Rosh Hashanah sermon by Rabbi Rob Nosanchuk of Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple, Beachwood OH)

Banners and Posters:

Congregation B'nai Keshet
Bechira Image.jpg
Bechira Image.jpg

Parent-Child Study:


Texts and Phrases:

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
― Viktor E. Frankel, Man's Search (Submitted by Rabbi Sam Feinsmith at Chicagoland Jewish High School)

Center for Mindfulness and Justice: "Almost every moment of your life you have a choice. You have a choice whether to open or close, whether to hold on or let go, whether to harden or soften, whether to hold your seat or strike out. That choice is presented to you again and again and again." Pema Chodron

As the Rabbis of the Mishna stated, “A mitzvah leads to another mitzvah and a wrongdoing leads to another wrongdoing” and “The second time a person does a wrongdoing, it is no longer a wrongdoing in his mind anymore.” (Mishnah Avot 4:2)

Lesson Plans :

Bechira Points - Chicagoland Jewish High School Middot Minyan Lesson Plans

Poems:

"To the Mistakes" (W.S. Merwin):
"Autobiography in Five Short Chapters" (Portia Nelson):

General Material:

  1. NYU
  2. Congregation Beth Israel
  3. Congregation B'nai Keshet
    1. The Bechira Point
  4. Chochmat Halev
    1. BECHIRA POINTS texts
    2. On the Intersection of Bechira Points and Mindfulness Practice
  5. JCC of San Francisco
    1. Bechira Points TMP
  6. Jewish Theological Seminary
    1. Meditation Summary - Hitlamdut; Behira Points.doc
  7. Congregation Beth El
    1. CBE October posters Bechira with logo
  8. Congregation Har Hashem
    1. IJS HHS Session 1 Behira Point and Mindfulness
  9. Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
    1. We believe that we are free to make choices at every moment. In fact, at most points, we are less than completely free. We are creatures of habit. It is not so easy to abstain from eating something we have resolved not to eat, for example; not so easy to avoid falling into a well-engrained interaction with a family member or friend. Often enough, we don’t even notice what we have eaten or said until afterwards.
      The behirah or choice point is the moment of greater freedom. The choice is not to buy the package of cookies; once it is in the house, it is much more difficult not to eat it. The choice is to determine what we need to modify before we are enmeshed in an oft-repeated negative interaction. Once we determine which of our behaviors we would like to modify, we can reflect what the behirah or choice point is in each instance and can work to free ourselves from our habitual behavior. In this way, we can increase the holiness in our lives and the lives of those with whom we interact.
  10. Temple Beth Sholom
    1. bechirah points bulletin article
    2. BEHIRA POINTS
  11. Temple Ohabei Shalom
    1. Blog post on Choice Points

  12. Westchester Jewish Community Services
    1. Bechirah Points
  13. Mussar Study with Young Children: Behira Points in Kindergarten! Congregation Beth Israel, Charlottesville, VA
    http://cbipreschool.blogspot.com/2017/01/5-year-old-mensches.html