“You Have Begun”

Moshe Kempinski

We can glean very powerful messages from the prayers of Moshe as he stood on the other side of the river overlooking the land of promise.

The first thing to consider is to remember that Moshe Rabbeinu ( Moses) is the man who walked between Heaven and Earth. He is the man who spoke to G-d as men speak to each other, “panim el panim”, that is to say,”face to face.” This is the man who walked into the fiery mountain and felt the Glory of G- d pass over him. This man, at the end of his life, had but one request, one final plea –

And I beseeched HaShem at that time, saying: “O HaShemm G- d, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness, and Your strong hand; for what god is there in Heaven or on Earth that can do according to Your works, and according to Your mighty acts? Let me go over, I pray to You, and see the good land that is beyond the Jordan, that goodly hill-country, and Lebanon.”(Deuteronomy 3: 24-25):

In order to emphasize his passionate plea, our sages declare that he prayed this plea 515 times, a number equivalent to the gematria (numerical equivalent) of the word Va’etchanan (“and I beseeched”).

What would Moshe have given in order to stand in one of those never-ending lines in the government offices or to stand shoulder to shoulder with the young people settling the hilltops of Judea and Samaria?

What joy would he have had to taste the sweet fruit of the land he so yearned for?

That yearning was so great that he was ready to postpone his entry into the bliss of the World to Come in order to “see the good land that is beyond the Jordan, that goodly hill-country, and Lebanon.”

We are struck by the words:

“O HaShem, G- d, You have begun ( Hachilota ) to show Your servant Your greatness, and Your strong hand”:

Moshe Rabbeinu, who had seen so much and experienced so much, says ” You have begun ”

After 120 years of the most spiritual and holy life ever lived by a mortal, Moshe declares that he has “just begun”?.The Baal Shem Tov teaches that these powerful words tell us that we are always in the process of “beginning” when it comes to spirituality. The spiritual journey is an eternal journey and so one can never lose hope or determination on that long voyage.

As the Mishna teaches, “It is neither incumbent upon you to finish the task, nor are you free to desist from it.”( Pirkei Avot 2:21) Every step is critical.

The Hebrew word, “hachilota” ( You have begun) used in the verse teaches us much as well. The same word is used in the book of Esther:

Haman’s friends tell him: “If Mordechai, before whom you have begun ( hachilota) to fall, is of Jewish descent you will not prevail against him, but will undoubtedly fall before him” (Esther 6:13).

G-d’s processes are inevitable. Just as Moshe knew that G-d’s process of working is an unstoppable process of revelation, we should be aware that we are in an unstoppable process of redemption.

We, in our generation, have seen prophecy after prophecy unfold before us and must not lose faith. We must feel assured and convinced that we are on a sure and purposeful road towards the redemption of our people and of the world.

1 thought on ““You Have Begun””

  1. Thank you for this writing, when life is so fast it is good to be reminded that our G-d is unchangeable, solid as a rock and that His processes are inevitable. Wonderful – ‘If G-d is for us who can be against us’!

    Blessings from England UK


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