December 13, 2018 ~ Shabbat VAYIGASH. Maqam BAYAT.

Shabbat Eqeb - שבת עקב

Slow But Steady

לא תוכל כלתם מהר פן תרבה עליך חית השדה - As a reward for obeying the commandments (והיה עקב תשמעון), God promises the Israelites that they will be successful in their mission of conquering the land. The advances, however, will occur "little by little" (מעט מעט), because achieving the goal too swiftly, as per Deuteronomy 7:22, will allow wild animals to come and fill the void left by the absence of inhabitants (פן תרבה עליך חית השדה). By not disillusioning the people by promising them an easy road ahead, Moses teaches a valuable lesson: Success is often a gradual process. If one has a worthwhile goal, they should know that hard work will be required, and should not feel discouraged if the goal is not completed quickly (לא תוכל כלתם מהר). In the words of the Ancient Greek storyteller, Aesop (620- 564 BCE), it is the "slow but steady that wins the race." Beth Torah Bulletin, August 12, 2017.

Empathy

ואהבתם את הגר כי גרים הייתם בארץ מצרים - When I first arrived in Scottsdale, Arizona, to begin Dental school, I was anxious about making new friends and fitting in. Walking into Congregation Beth Tefillah for the first time, however, I was immediately acknowledged by Rabbi Pinchas Allouche and by all the other congregants. Instead of ignoring a random person from out of town, these people treated me like family. For me, the warm greetings of welcome eliminated my fears and gave me the confidence needed to be successful in my new setting. By instructing the Israelites "to love the foreigner" (Deuteronomy 10:19), Moses teaches the value of empathy. Being that the Israelites were previously foreigners in Egypt, they are the most opportune nation to know how it feels to be in this exact position. It is for this very reason that Moses specifically calls upon the Israelites to step up and always treat an outsider with utmost dignity and mercy. Beth Torah Bulletin, August 4, 2018.


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