Hope is Not Lost!

At the end of this week’s reading, we are told not to set up idols. “You shall make no idols, and a graven image or pillar you shall not set up… You shall keep My Sabbaths, and revere My Sanctuary, I am Hashem” [Lev. 26:1-2]. The Medrash, quoted by Rashi, says that this is talking about a person who sold himself into servitude to a non-Jew. He isn’t allowed to say “because my master is an idolater, I will be like him,” or “because my master engages in forbidden relationships, I will be like him.” He is still obligated to observe the Commandments like anyone else.

The-Climber-Rejoices-at-the-Top-of-the-MountainRabbi Yisrael Mayer Kagan, the saintly Chofetz Chayim, says that the Torah is teaching us that even a person who has put himself into a bad situation is not exempt. By putting himself into indentured servitude to a non-Jew, this person was certainly embarrassed, and knew full well that he would have many challenges and failures when it came to doing the Commandments. Nonetheless, he remains obligated like anyone else.

So, he continues, if this is true of someone who sold himself, then all the more so the fact that a person might have willfully ignored the Commandments in the past doesn’t exempt him for the future. Tomorrow brings with it new obligations and new responsibilities.

What this also means, of course, is that every new day brings with it new opportunities as well. Sometimes a person tries to do various things, doesn’t manage to “keep it up,” and thinks he or she just isn’t cut out to do it. But every person, at every level, experiences repeated failures on the way to success — in many different areas of our lives. That’s what makes the success so sweet in the end.

The same is true of spiritual success — if it’s hard to accomplish, every day one has a new opportunity, and the eventual success that will be much greater. The Torah is telling us to never give up, that we can always win in the end.

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