“Kol Hamitzvah” that I command you today you shall observe to perform…" (8:1).
According to the normal reading of the first two words of this verse, Moshe is referring to a number of mitzvoth that have been mentioned and need to be taken seriously and fulfilled. However Rashi quotes the Midrash that in this instance, Kol does not mean “all the commandments”, but “the entire commandment.” The reason that such an interpretation is possible is because the word Mitzvah is in the singular. And therefore the phrase “all the mitzvah” begs for further explanation.
The Medrash explains that from here we learn the importance of finishing a mitzvah that you start. The Medrash goes on to teach that the credit for the mitzvah is given to s/he that completes it, and not to the person that initiated the act. The proof is the fact that the nation as a whole is given credit for bringing the bones of Yosef out of Egypt and facilitating their burial in Shechem. This is the case even though we know that it was Moshe who personally ensured that Yosef’s casket was taken out of Egypt. In fact in Sefer Shemot the Medrash notes that the people could not be bothered with Yosef’s bones as they were too busy looting Egypt of its valuables.
This Medrash seems unfair. First in its specific example- Moshe would have finished the task had he been allowed entry into the land of Israel. And more broadly, this Medrash seems to completely ignore the role of those individuals with great ideas. Even if their idea does not make it to fulfillment, it has nonetheless been created and perhaps someone else will make it a reality. Does the innovator in such a case get no credit for that initial idea?
I think the Medrash means for us to learn two lessons. First, while the whole nations may get the credit for burying Yosef, that does not mean that they should not be sharing that credit with Moshe. It is incumbent upon each of us upon succeeding to give credit to all those that helped us make it to that point of success.
Second, although ideas are important, if not crucial, we must not get overly enamored by the fame of innovation. We must similarly be impressed by the hard work and stick – to – it-tivness that goes into turning an idea into a success.