Friday, July 31, 2009

Never give up

A young Abraham Lincoln went to war a captain and returned a private. His business career was a failure, as was his stint as a lawyer in Springfield. He was defeated in his first try for the legislature, defeated in his first attempt to be nominated for congress, defeated in his application to be commissioner of the General Land Office, defeated in the senatorial election of 1854, defeated in his efforts for the vice-presidency in 1856, and defeated in the senatorial election of 1858.

Thomas Edison’s first 1000 experiments to invent the light bulb failed.

Dr. Seuss submitted his first book to twenty-seven publishers before one agreed to print it.

They and dozens like them reinforce Winston Churchill’s contention: “Never, never, never, never give up!”

Whoever persevered, laughed at the odds and succeeded had the ultimate role model to follow. Moses, hearing from G-d that he would never enter the Promised Land, launched into a marathon 515 prayers to try to get Hashem to change His mind.

Hold on! I said “succeeded”, but Moses didn’t succeed. G-d rejected his plea again and again, reiterating that He could not enter the Land.

Interestingly, when Moses prayed for the 515th time, G-d responded “If you pray one more time, I will accede, so please don’t pray for this again.” In fact, G-d intended answering Moses’ prayer, just not right then and there. The Talmud tells us that Moses was the original redeemer, leading the Jews out of Egypt, and he will be the one to lead the Jews into Israel with Moshiach.

Until that happens, G-d wants us to take a lesson from this story. He wants us to realise that if we pray and pray for Moshiach and don’t see answers, we need to pray again. G-d’s message to us is to never give up, because we never know which prayer will be the one to tip the scales and launch the Messianic Age.

We always read the story of Moses’ pleas to Hashem on the Shabbos following Tisha B’Av, the Shabbos called ‘Nachamu” (comfort). Having just recalled centuries of Jewish tragedy on Tisha B’Av and how our hopes for a better life have been dashed again and again, G-d reminds us in this Torah portion that we are just one step away from His consolation and Moshiach. Let us pray that we see His promise fulfilled this Shabbos.

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