Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh
If At First You Don’t Succeed…
January 13, 2018 – 26 Tevet 5778
It is so easy to give up…. We try. We struggle. We succeed. All is well. And, then, suddenly…we fail! And, it is so easy to give up. It is so easy to abandon our goals or to say that they are unrealistic. That is what Moses tried to do when God sent him back, time and time again, to redeem our people from slavery.
After some initial hesitation, Moses tried to do as God said. He tried to influence Pharaoh to set our people free. At first, he succeeded in getting an audience with Pharaoh. He succeeded in impressing the Egyptians with his signs and wonders.
But, then, he failed. The situation of the people worsened. And, that is when Moses wanted to give up. He had argued with God that he wasn’t up to the task. Now, armed with his latest failure, Moses countered God’s command that he should continue. Moses argued with God saying that since the Israelite people would not listen to him, how could he possibly hope to convince Pharaoh to release the Israelites from bondage?….
Moses’ initial reluctance to step up to the plate, and his subsequent arguments were all reasonable. They were all human. They were all rational. But, the Torah tells us this story because, like Moses, we may all be tempted at times to step back – to give up on our highest goals and aspirations.
The Torah reminds us that even Moses struggled with these feelings. Even Moses wanted to give up.
But the Torah also tells us something else. The Torah tells us what it was that propelled Moses to continue, despite his insecurities and his failures. The Torah tells us what moved Moses to try again, and again; what propelled him to strive to set our people free; what enabled Moses to convey to generations to come the sacred values of freedom, of sanctity of life, and of compassion.
Moses was moved to go beyond his comfort zone by God’s reminder of God’s eternal covenant with our ancestors, by God’s words of encouragement and by God’s promise of redemption and of eternal connection.
These words are not only for Moses. They are for us and for all generations.
Like Moses, we may be tempted to give up. But, like Moses, we too can learn to continue on. We too can help to make our world a better place! By telling us this story, the Torah is reminding us: If at first you don’t succeed…try, try again!!!!
This Shabbat we will recite the blessing for the new Jewish month of Shevat. Rosh Chodesh Shevat will be on Tuesday night and Wednesday of this coming week. May it be a month of blessing, of hope, and of light.
Rabbi Gilah Dror
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