September 9, 2022

Rabbi Yair D. Robinson

Parashat Ki Tetzei

Deuteronomy 23:22-24

“Was it enough?”

In this time of vows, as we prepare to make new promises in a new year, a time to reflect on past choices, both good and bad, we read in Ki Tetzei about the power of vows, especially how much our vows bind us, holding us accountable for our words. We are taught that whatever it is that we vow, we have to fulfill it, and we should fulfill our words without delay.

Most of us spent this time last year, I imagine, reflecting on how we could do better and be better in our world, and perhaps we are doing the same this year. The question I would ask is, is it enough? Is it enough to simply say, “I promise to do better, to be better, than I was before”? When we said those words, or some variation on them, a year ago, did we, in fact, do better? Did we fulfill our vows? Or did we find ways to justify, to put off, to blame, to put aside, or to rationalize away?

I can’t answer that for you, but I’m guessing it’s some combination of the two. Fulfilling our vows, being accountable to the promises we made, is hard, especially when it comes to changing our behavior, our selves. But that doesn’t mean we still can’t try. As Rabbi Howard Schulweis wrote:

It is never too late

To change my mind

My direction

To say no to the past

And yes to the future,

To offer remorse

To ask and give forgiveness.

It is never too late

To start over again.


May this be so for each of us. Amen.