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Parshas Bo


By Rabbi Label Lam

And they went and they did, the Children of Israel, just as HASHEM commanded Moshe and Aaron, so they did. (Shemos 12:28)

And they went: Did they already do it? Were they not just now commanded on Rosh Chodesh? Rather since they accepted upon themselves it is considered as if they did it already. (Rashi- Mechilta)

How potent are those seemingly extra words, “And they went”? What’s the big deal about choosing or accepting? What can be greater than doing? “All is (measured) according to a majority of deeds” the Mishne in Avos tells us. How is committing to action on par at all with performing?

Within the categories of thought, speech, and action are sub-categories. There is the thought of thought, the speech of thought, and the action of thought. A person enters a department store. It is filled with millions of items. Only a dozen are picked up, examined, and entertained for purchase. Only a few will actually be selected and paid for. So it is with pictures and ideas. Some flash past our radar- unheeded. Others are toyed with and observed casually. A chosen few shots are fully developed, blown up larger than life, and hung as posters on the walls of our minds. The action of thought is in a sense like an action.

“When a person commits to an action or accepts words of reproof”, writes Rabbenu Yona, “that person in one instant goes out from darkness to a great light. Because at that moment that he tends his ear and makes attentive his heart, he understands and accepts the words of the speaker to fulfill them and to live up to them from today and further, and to be cautiously adherent to the words of those who know Torah wisdom and understand the times, at that very moment, with his Teshuvah he is transformed into a different person. From the time that he accepts all this in his thoughts and he his is committed so in his heart he acquires for himself the merit and reward of all future Mitzvos and lessons, and he is greatly enriched because he has corrected his soul in one moment.” And so our sages of blessed memory said, “They went and they did, the Children of Israel”. Immediately…since they accepted upon themselves to do, it is considered as if they did it already in the present.”

Let’s marvel for one moment at the power of one moment. Like a seed, that developed thought contains in the present all the future accomplishments coded within. One is credited as having studied the entire Talmud in the moment one commits seriously to do so. All of the grandeur of Shabbos is contained in that second one chooses again to “keep the Shabbos holy”. So too an abundance of purity is there in the DNA of that initial decision to guard one’s speech.

A Shabbos guest told us how and why he came to Yeshiva. He had been dabbling in learning and considering taking time out to learn. He was not entirely convinced it was the right thing to do. He was dogged by doubting thoughts he couldn’t shake. He was driving Up-State New York on the Thruway along a stretch of “no exit”- highway. His mind was turning this way and that. “Should I or shouldn’t I?”

Then he couldn’t hold back anymore and he blurted out, “If it’s the right thing G-d then show me!” Just at that instant, believe it or not, he found himself boxed in for the next twelve miles by two huge trucks that seemed to have appeared from nowhere. One was now in front and the other hemmed him in on left with bold writing -the acronym for, “Guaranteed Overnight Delivery”- “G”-“O”-“D”. His decision was sealed. It was then as if he had already accomplished all. And so the Children of Israel in a moment otherwise lost were able to find for all time Guaranteed--Overnight--Delivery.

Text Copyright © 2006 by Rabbi Label Lam and

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