Tough Starts

 Much as we may wish to make a new beginning, some part of us resists doing so as though we were making the first step toward disaster. -William Bridges

bike uphillThere is an ancient Hebrew saying that “all beginnings are difficult.” The Sfat Emet in 5637 (1877) analyzes this concept from a Kabbalistic vantage. He explains that in every endeavor there are two parts – the beginning, and the remainder of the effort. He states that the beginning is always under the jurisdiction of the “Attribute of Justice,” while the remainder of the effort is under the influence of the “Attribute of Mercy.”

What that means is that in the beginning we need to work hard. Nothing comes easy. The beginning is the point of the greatest resistance, the greatest fear and the greatest risk. If we don’t put in serious effort, if we don’t give it our all – the chances of making it past the initial stage are limited. “Justice” reviews our efforts closely. “Justice” does not accept slipshod work. “Justice” has no patience for half-hearted efforts. We have to earn our accomplishments – most especially as we start on the path.

However, something happens as we pass the threshold of action. Once we have taken those initial difficult steps, once we have firmly planted ourselves on the road to accomplishment, the “Attribute of Mercy” takes over. Things get easier. Matters work out. That initial resistance has been broken and the sailing gets smoother. God’s “Attribute of Mercy” gifts success to the person who has committed himself, who has embarked on his mission.

May we undertake positive goals and see them accomplished despite rough beginnings.

Shabbat Shalom,



To my nephew Benjamin Tocker on his Bar-Mitzvah. You’re off to a good start!













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