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Dvar Torah - Beshallach

"This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." --Winston Churchill

The words above were articulated by Winston Churchill immediately after Great Britain's victory over Nazi Germany in El Alamein. It was the first major victory for Britain during World War 2, and it showed that the British Empire could still fight, and ought not to be taken for granted. The words communicate both the sense of accomplishment and pride, and the painful awareness of much "blood, tears, toil, and sweat”, as necessary to secure final victory. However, they also communicate a (brief) allowance to celebrate past accomplishments, take stock, perhaps rest, and decide on the correct course forward.

The Jews this week find themselves in a similar situation. As they leave Egypt behind, they know that they have a long journey ahead of them. First they will journey through the desolate Sinai desert to receive the Torah. Then they will continue to the Land of Israel, before finally reaching the Land and having to conquer it. And all of this discounts the frequent obstacles which will present themselves in the desert, such as the surprise attack by Amalek, and the fact that the sojourn there will be far longer than they had anticipated. While the feeling of safety from Pharaoh's army cannot be overstated, the Jewish people cannot take their continued future success for granted. Nevertheless, now is the time to celebrate. They sing. They dance. They make merry. Because after two hundred and seventy years of torment and slavery, being finally free of their evil masters is reason enough to have a party.

We have just had such a new year. After two difficult years, we had reached over 90% of eligible Victorians vaccinated. Restrictions fell away. We could see our friends, travel interstate, and even have family visit us from overseas. However, even then, we knew that the pandemic was not over. It might be entering a new phase but it will likely be with us for some time to come. We had our parties. We enjoyed them. And we deserved them. Now it is time to push forward, to continue to soldier on. Let's all be safe, and get our boosters. That way the gains of the last few months may prove to be the beginning of the end which we all so crave.

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