Yet another well-known mishnah with a message that is definitely important for today. How often do we say that we can’t do everything so we end up doing nothing? This mishnah reminds us to take the first step.
Rabbi Tarfon says:
You are not required to complete the task,
yet you are not free to withdraw from it. — Pirke Avot 2:21
Questions to ask
Why are we not required to complete the task? Isn’t it important to finish everything we begin? Are there some jobs that you need other people to help you finish?
If you can’t do the entire job, maybe you shouldn’t even start doing it. Are there some jobs that we should start even when we know we cannot finish them? What kinds of tasks would these be?
When a school year ends or camp ends, we know we must keep on learning and keep on connecting with our friends. Are there things that we feel that we have left undone when school or camp ends? Do you ever feel sad at ending something and think that maybe you should not have even begun it? Why do we feel this way?
Today we are very worried about our world and sometimes we say that there is nothing we can do to make a difference. What can we do to make a difference in our world?
Think of something you can do beginning today to start the task knowing that you may not be able to finish it. What plan could you have to make sure someone else takes over the next part of the job?
What does this mishnah teach us about how to live our lives every day?
Shalom….from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.