Daf Yomi Kesubos 45
Jephthah was a leader of Israel who lived during the time of the Judges. But he wasn’t always a leader. He was born out of wedlock and was always the black sheep of the family. The other children picked on him and taunted him about his humble beginnings. Eventually they completely drove him away from the family and off he went to another city to re-establish himself.
One day, when the Children of Israel could no longer bear the Canaanite oppression, the Elders arrived in Jephthah’s town and asked him to be leader of the people.
‘I am despised; I was driven away. Why would you choose me as your leader?’ asked Jephthah.
We learned in a Mishnah: If a king or high priest sinned prior to their appointment to office and were subsequently appointed, Rabbi Shimon says, ‘If they were aware of their mistake prior to their appointment, they are culpable. But if they only became aware of it following their appointment, they are completely exonerated.’
Some people hold themselves back from becoming appointed to the Almighty’s service because they believe they are tainted by their past. ‘How could I teach Torah? How could I serve an institution? I didn’t grow up in a spiritual environment. I partied too much in my youth.’
But listen to what Rabbi Shimon says: Chances are, you only became aware of your mistakes later. You don’t need to be ashamed of your past at all! The Almighty has now blessed you with a spiritually-infused future and the past is but a blip of history. You are completely exonerated. The slate has been wiped utterly clean!
Or maybe you’re like Jephthah: Your earlier distance from G-d and Israel was no fault of your own. It was others who kept you from reaching your full potential because they were jealous. Don’t let them drag you down for life! Don’t allow their taunts to keep you from fulfilling your incredible potential! Rabbi Shimon says: Put the past behind you. Don’t get bogged down by whatever turns your life took until now. Today is the first day of the rest of your life!
You have been appointed to serve the Almighty. He has chosen you for greatness. He has liberated you from your past. May you merit to accept His mission and accomplish great things with your life!