This Parsha this week is Parshas Yisro. In the Parsha the Torah tells us of Mattan Torah, the giving of the Torah at to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai.
Before Hashem gave the Torah to the Jewish people He gave an introduction: “And now Im Shomoa Tishmeu bkoli – and now if you listen and will listen to My voice…” (Exodus ) There is an obvious question in the wording used here. The word “Shomoa” is present tense – to listen right now. The word “Tishmeu” is future tense – to listen in the future. How could we switch tenses from present to future in the same verse? If we are talking about listening in the present, let both verses be in the present tense? If we are talking about listening in the future, then both verses should be in the future tense?
Rashi tells us a beautiful idea. The Torah is referring to both the present and the future in the same verse. The Torah is teaching us a most important lesson by changing the tense. Often a person feels that doing a particular mitzvah, or climbing to a new level in observance, is too hard for them. The change is something that they feel that they can’t keep up to. However, the Torah is telling us that if we just make that first step, if we just do the beginning, then from then on things will get easier. If you are “Shomoa” – you listen now, then “Tishmeu”- then you will find yourself able to keep on doing it in the future. “Kol Haschalos Kashos” – “All beginnings are hard”. Once we make the beginning, once we start doing it, then it becomes easier to keep it up.
When the Jewish people were to receive the Torah, the was a real concern that they may feel that it is too hard for them to keep it. Maybe this fear would even prevent them from accepting the Torah altogether. Hashem therefore gave a message to them; Don’t fear. Even if it’s hard in the beginning, once you start it gets easier. Just take that first step – start keeping it, and you will see that it gets easier as you go along.
How often do we have this problem? We would like to do more, or be a little more carful when we do a mitzvah to do it properly. However, we are afraid to do anything out of the fear that it will be too hard to always do this. If we could just learn from the message Hashem gave us in this week’s Parsha, then we can move forward with confidence that we will succeed in any step we take to growing. It may be hard in that first step, but afterwards it will get easier.