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Get it Done!

Friday, 24 January, 2020 - 8:42 am

“Mike Will Get It Done!” promises the Bloomberg Campaign. “Promises Made, Promises Kept!” declares the Trump Campaign. It’s political season and we are inundated with bold statements.

These are marketing slogans, but they are meant to present a message of trust in a candidate’s ability to deliver.

But, is delivering always a good thing? I’d assume that if you don’t like Mike Bloomberg’s policies you won’t want him to “get it done.” And, if you are not supportive of President Trump, you will pray that he does not keep his promises. (To be clear, I do not endorse any political candidates. This is merely to illustrate a point).

What if you support a specific idea or cause? Is it always best to “get the job done?”

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The Talmud stresses the importance of finishing a mitzvah that we start. In fact, finishing is more important than starting.

As a parent, it’s a self-evident preference. I don’t only want my children to begin cleaning their room. I want them to complete the job.

In this week’s parsha Va’eira, Aharon serves as G-d’s emissary to “bring up the frogs on the land of Egypt.” Interestingly, the text indicates that he only began the process by delivering one solitary, humungous frog upon Egypt. Eventually, there were frogs all over Egypt, as Hashem promised to deliver them “into your house and into your bedroom and upon your bed and into the house of your servants and into your people, and into your ovens and into your kneading troughs; and into you and into your people and into all your servants.”

If Aharon was commanded to bring the plague of frogs upon Egypt, why didn’t he complete the job?

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When a Jewish court of law is obligated to punish someone, the court does so with great caution. In fact, in order to be certain they do not give a disproportionate punishment, the court would minimize the punishment slightly less than the requirement.

The rationale is simple. We don’t want to be the ones to administer even one ounce of unnecessary pain to another human being. If G-d determines that this person deserves even more punishment and suffering, then He will find a way to do so.

Similarly, Aharon was instructed – by G-d – to torment the Egyptians. But, how much torment is appropriate?

When it comes to (justifiably) causing someone else pain and suffering, starting the mitzvah is all we need to do. If more is needed, Hashem will find a way.

Indeed, the Midrash teaches that this huge frog multiplied, leading to the massive frog infestation that virtually brought Pharaoh to his knees.

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For a positive mitzvah, such as keeping kosher or giving tzedaka – get it done! But, there are times when rather than simply focusing on “getting it done,” it might be worthwhile to stop for a moment and think whether we should be finishing the job, or letting Hashem do His part!

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