Inspired by Did people ever place actual physical stumbling blocks before the blind?

In Devarim 30:19, we are told by G-d to "choose life":

This day, I call upon the heaven and the earth as witnesses [that I have warned] you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. You shall choose life, so that you and your offspring will live;

The meaning, which is clear from the context, is to choose Mitzvot and walk in G-d's ways, over the alternative.

My question: Is there anyone who interprets this literally, that Man has an obligation to choose to live?

Suppose someone is diagnosed with a highly treatable, but fatal (if untreated) illness. Is he obligated to choose the treatment, or can he choose to forgo the treatment, even though his life-span will be shortened? Do we tell him "The Torah says to Choose Life"?

  • aspects of this tangentially touched upon here: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/3058/603
    – Menachem
    Jul 17 '12 at 18:11
  • It might be clearer if you get rid of the example at the end, since the halakha is that one must choose life, but that halakha is learnt out from other places (such as Leviticus 18:5).
    – Shimon bM
    Jul 18 '12 at 0:02
  • @ShimonbM: Can you point out where the halacha is learned from Vayikra 18:5?
    – Menachem
    Jul 18 '12 at 1:16
  • No, I can't: my apologies. I remembered a text using it as an asmakhta to learn out that particular halakha, but now that I look for it, it appears that I was mistaken. This is, in any case, how I understand the Rema on YD 339:1. I don't know if there's a more explicit source. If I am not mistaken again, it seems to me that the only places where his halakha is learnt out directly are from passages in Semakhot (which, as you know, has no corresponding mishna), and from stories like the one involving R' Hanina ben Teradyon.
    – Shimon bM
    Jul 18 '12 at 1:43
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    The Yerushalmi interprets it as an obligation to earn a livelihood. Kohelet Rabba interprets it as an obligation to teach a son to swim, to ensure his physical survival.
    – mevaqesh
    May 27 '16 at 20:29

Per Shabbos 63a אין המקרא יוצא מידי פשוטו.

The Baal Haturim on this Pasuk says that B'Chayim = 70 since the Torah can be interpreted in 70 ways and a persons lifespan is 70 years.

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    פשוטו doesn't mean the literal meaning, it means the simple meaning. For example I don't think anyone would suggest that the פשט of ויפג לבו is that Yaakov's heart literally stopped. The pshat there is that it's an expression. Similarly, here, the pshat is the way the context sets it up, and so אין מקרא יוצא מידי פשוטו does not answer the question.
    – Dov F
    Jul 18 '12 at 15:36
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    ...even if it did I don't see how that gematria tells us in what context we're supposed to literally choose life.
    – Double AA
    Jul 18 '12 at 15:43
  • yeshiva.org.il/wiki/… Jul 18 '12 at 15:46

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