Friday, August 3, 2012

Parsha Perspective

By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman, Dean, Cheder Chabad of Monsey

Think about the Ten Commandments (reviewed in this week’s Torah portion Va’Eschanan – Devorim (Deuteronomy) 3:23-7:11).

"I am the L-rd Your G‑d." Good beginning. Sets the tone; serious, weighty stuff. Could have left it at that, but He chose to give a bit of background bio. "I am the L-rd Your G‑d, who took you out of Egypt."

"Who took us out of Egypt"? Talk about sweating the small details! What about "who created the Heaven and Earth"? Surely, on a scale of G‑d's accomplishments, stage-managing the Exodus doesn't even approach His role as designer and creator of the universe!

It is far easier to do it right the first time than to clean up the mess caused when doing it wrong. In anything we do – whether raising a child, painting a masterpiece, or filling in a tax return – we aim for perfection. We all know that small flaws tend to spiral quickly, and wherever possible are best avoided in advance.

Sometimes we get lucky; we get in, get it done and get out. Luxury! Often, we're not so fortunate. The kid's a few years old, and, help, he's beginning to sound like you. The painting is out of proportion. And you can already imagine the "please explain" letter from the tax office. A quitter throws up his hands, blames the spouse, the art teacher, or the accountant and walks off in disgust. A winner sticks to the task, works through the problem, and does whatever it takes to succeed.

The Torah is G‑d's message to humanity. In it He speaks to all of us, for all time. When G‑d created the world, it was the equivalent of getting it right the first time. He designed the system, He brought it into being, and then He rested in satisfaction of a job well done. Were that His message at Sinai, "I Created the Heaven and the Earth," would it not have seemed as if G‑d was giving us no scope for error; "be like Me, get it right, or else…"?

Egypt was different; a bad land, a bad situation, a bad time. G‑d led us out of the chaos and evil and helped us get our lives back on track. By representing Himself as "The G‑d who took you out of Egypt," He is giving us the courage to survive the inevitable bad times. He's telling us that no matter how bad life gets, wherever you may fall, get back on your horse and ride off into the sunset of success that awaits just over the horizon.

(Excerpts from Chabad.org by Rabbi Elisha Greenbaum )

May you have a meaningful and uplifting Shabbos!