Rabbi Yaacov Haber's
for the Week
We've all been there. We are enjoying the
first course at the wedding meal. There is light music in the background,
pleasant conversation and a beautiful setting. Suddenly the band pumps up.
With pomp and fanfare the music reaches a crescendo and a new beginning is
about to be announced. Everyone stands up. "Ladies and gentleman,
for the very first time, ." The volume is deafening, we all get very
excited and we dance like crazy.
If you've been to a bris
you will have observed how everyone is shmoozing comfortably when the Mohel
will shout "Boruch HaBa!" A hush comes over the assembled as the
week old baby is brought into the room and officially welcomed into the
And of course the Bar Mitzvah! Our first grand entrance into manhood. Every
one of us remembers our Bar-Mitzvah. It was a milestone that we worked hard
to reach and finally, on that day, we were welcomed to be an adult part of
the community - a real part of Klal Yisroel.
We celebrate new beginnings. We have identified every milestone and have
made it into a holiday.
This week's Torah portion identifies the ends, the completion and the
accomplishment of our goals.
The Jewish people are setting up an army. There is a selection of soldiers.
"Who is the man who has built a house. planted a vineyard. been engaged
to be married? They should go home! Lest they get killed in the
upcoming war and be unable to bring these beginnings to fruition, they shall
not fight with the nation."
Apparently, beginning or even intending to see these beginnings through, is
not good enough. The Torah is telling us that until we reach our individual
goals, those grand beginning remains meaningless. We would think that the Mitzvah
of conquering Eretz Yisroel takes precedence over our personal vineyard,
orchard or home. When we consider the national security of our people it may
even be more important than my marriage. Yet the Torah instructs us: go
home! Finish what you started. Don't begin processes without completing
them. Experience Shleimus - completion.
All of us have paved quite a few roads
with good intentions. There's a whole stretch of road going towards
mastering Tanach, an expressway leading to spending time with our children,
and an eight-lane highway staring us in the face each time we see our to-do
list. We all start projects with the intention of finishing them, but
the path to fruition is fraught with obstacles: self doubt, fear of
commitment, fear of lost opportunity, fear of putting in hard work that
might not pay off, fear of failure - even fear of success! G-d gives
us the miracle of inspiration at the beginning of an endeavor, but then it's
up to us to recreate that miracle as soon as that initial burst of
motivation starts to fade. "Shalem", completion brings about
Laying a foundation to a house is great -- but seeing a HOME lit with Shabbos
candles on Friday night is shalem. It represents peace. Meeting a couple who
just got engaged or dancing at their wedding and feeling the incredible joy
is a beautiful thing, but nothing compared to seeing a mature couple look at
each other with love and cooperation. The Torah commands us to resist
getting involved with new, apparently more important projects, and to go
home and finish what we started. Become a shalem, and G-d will grant us the
ultimate blessing: Shalom.
Rabbi Yaacov Haber
Rabbi Haber is the OU's National Director of Jewish Education and
the spiritual leader of the OU's Pardes Program
questions are very welcome
"A tree of life for those who embrace it"
Rabbi Yaacov Haber Parasha Index