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Tough Beginnings

Friday, 25 October, 2019 - 9:32 am

We are at the tail end of a month of Jewish holidays. We began with the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. Then Yom Kippur, Sukkot & Simchat Torah. It’s a pretty intense start to the year. Introspection, awe, commitment and jubilation – all wrapped in less than a month.

This week we also begin the annual cycle of studying the Torah. The first parsha Bereishit tells the story of Creation. Looking more closely, it tells the story of over a thousand years. It tells of humanity’s first efforts.

Interestingly, all those efforts are marred in failure. The Tree of Knowledge. Murder of a brother. Immorality and wickedness metastasize to the degree that G-d wants to destroy the world.

If I was reading a novel, I’d assume this was going to be a sad book.

If I was talking with a psychologist, the prospects offered would be slim.

The end result, which we just concluded on Simchat Torah, is the most beautiful story of Divine mission and meaning; of destiny and spirit. It is a story still unfolding.

***

When the most important event in the Torah transpires, G-d tells the Jewish people:

And now, if you obey Me and keep My covenant, you shall be to Me a treasure out of all peoples, for Mine is the entire earth.

At Sinai, G-d makes a deal with the Jewish people. The Jews agree – and the rest is history.

Earlier the Jewish people were accustomed to decades of brutal oppression and suffering. “And now,” G-d declares, things will change. The Midrash explains that this commitment is given now at Sinai because “all beginnings are difficult.”

Essentially, G-d is telling His people: “You’ve already done the difficult part. From now on out it will be easier.”

***

When faced with challenges in life, it’s important to look at the long picture; to realize that this is but a step to a greater, more promising future. The fact that it’s difficult doesn’t mean it will end poorly.

Quite the contrary: If it’s difficult, this is proof positive that it’s only the beginning.

Take a cue from the Torah and the Jewish calendar. Intense beginnings lead to fruitful endings.

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