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Nipping Evil in the Bud (Masai)

In every phenomenon the beginning remains always the most notable moment. — Thomas Carlyle

The tribes of Israel have reached the end of their wandering in the desert, and they are assembled on the plains of Moab, on the eastern bank of the Jordan River, ready to conquer the Promised Land. God gives very clear instructions as to the reason they are crossing the river:

“When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, you shall dispossess all the inhabitants of the land; you shall destroy all their figured objects; you shall destroy all their molten images, and you shall demolish all their cult places. And you shall take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have assigned the land to you to possess.” -Number 33:51-53

The Chidushei HaRim on Numbers 33:52 explains that the Jewish nation needed to understand from the very beginning of their entry into the land the purpose for their entry. This included uprooting the existing dwellers, namely the seven nations that God commanded Israel to destroy. He elaborates that the seven nations represented the seven roots of all evil and hence part of Israel’s job was to uproot that evil from the start, at the first possible opportunity.

He continues; if Israel were to forget or veer from its mission, the same nations would blind Israel to reality and the evil would take root within the children of Israel, blocking their ability to perceive truth or wisdom.

Hence, the particular importance of starting off strong, for he states, the outcome of most things is very much dependent on how they begin. A strong start to any endeavor increases the chances of success. A lukewarm beginning doesn’t engender a promising conclusion.

A strong start that is pursued with all of one’s strength will keep the evil that surrounds us, and is always threatening us, to stay at bay. A proper investment of all our energies in worthy and noble tasks will become the guarantor of a successful outcome, untainted by evil.

Additionally, we are blessed that we have new beginnings every single day, to tackle, correct and improve whatever we individually and collectively need to conquer.

May we pursue all good things with tremendous energies and fresh starts.

Shabbat Shalom,

Ben-Tzion

Dedication

To the Maccabiah Games

About the Author
Ben-Tzion Spitz is the former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay. He is the author of six books of Biblical Fiction and hundreds of articles and stories dealing with biblical themes. He is the publisher of Torah.Works, a website dedicated to the exploration of classic Jewish texts, as well as TweetYomi, which publishes daily Torah tweets on Parsha, Mishna, Daf, Rambam, Halacha, Tanya and Emuna. Ben-Tzion is a graduate of Yeshiva University and received his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University.
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