The Follow-Through by Rabbi Joel Grossman


In his Sefer Growth Through Torah, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin derives from the Pasuk “VaYeitz’u LaLechet Artzah Kenaan, VaYavo’u Artzah Kenaan,” “[Avraham and his family] went to go to the Land of Canaan, and they came to the Land of Canaan,” that whenever one starts on a project, he should make sure to complete it.  When Avraham made up his mind to travel to Canaan, he followed through on his plans and reached his destination.  This is in contrast to Avraham’s evil father Terach, who, as the Torah describes in Parshat Noach, started out on a journey to Canaan, but settled in Charan along the way, never arriving at his final destination.  The Chafetz Chaim said that this is a lesson to learn from Avraham: one should not become sidetracked from the goals he sets for himself.  To succeed in any venture, he must complete what he starts.

Many of us make wonderful resolutions – to study more Torah, to lose weight by eating a healthier diet and exercising more, etc.  Oftentimes these good intentions last for but a short time, after which the person finds himself back in his old routine, still not devoting enough time to Torah study and still watching his waistline bulge.  We must remember the Gemara’s comments in Masechet Bava Metzia (49a) on the Pasuk (Vayikra 19:36) commanding us to keep “Hin Tzedek,” just weights and measures.  The Gemara explains that this Pasuk means our “Hein,” our “yes,” must be righteous – when we agree to do something, we must be honest and accomplish what we said we would.

Toward the end of Elul, someone called me on the phone.  I was very busy and told the caller that I would call him back.  Over the next few nights, I was preoccupied with another project.  As I was preparing for Rosh Hashanah, however, I remembered the conversation and returned the call.  Apologizing for the delay, I nonetheless explained that I had agreed to call back, and so I felt obligated to do so.

Through his own actions in his journey, Avraham teaches us the lesson of always keeping our word.  We must not give excuses for why we could not fulfill our word; in the end, even the best excuse is still just an excuse.


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