Parshas Ki Sisa
Moshe Does Not Let Betrayal Infringe on His Love For The People
These divrei Torah were adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Tapes on the weekly portion: Tape # 760, Can You Sell Your Aveiros. Good Shabbos!
The Baal HaTurim points outs in last week’s Parsha (Titzaveh) that Moshe Rabbeinu’s name is not mentioned there by virtue of the fact that in this week’s Parsha Moshe prays “Please blot me out from the Book you have written.” [Shemos 32:32] This is a fulfillment of the rule that the “curse of a wise man comes true even if made conditionally.” Thus, Parshas Titzaveh became the only parsha in the final four books of the Torah in which Moshe’s name is not mentioned — it is “blotted out” so to speak.
There is irony in the fact that Parshas Titzaveh always comes out on the week which contains Moshe Rabbeinu’s Yahrtzeit [death-anniversary], Adar 7 and is the only Parsha after Vayechi in which Moshe’s name is not mentioned.
However, as we have said in the past, the fact that Moshe’s name is left out of Titzaveh is not a punishment — it is a “price”. If anything, this fact is a “zechus” — a bonus due to his merit. It is a testimony to his leadership and self-sacrifice in behalf of the nation. It calls our attention to the fact that he was willing to have his name blotted out from the Torah in order to save the Jewish people, presenting an ultimatum, as it were, to the Almighty that He must forgive them!
Rather than being a punishment, the fact that Moshe is not mentioned in Titzaveh is the highest form of praise of Moshe Rabbeinu.
This week’s parsha contains another example of Moshe’s devotion to his people. Moshe’s “delay” in returning to the camp from the 40 day period he spent on Mt. Sinai receiving the Torah caused a panic among the people and led to them building a Golden Calf to replace Moshe. Hashem indicated to Moshe that He wanted to destroy the people. Moshe pleaded on behalf of Klal Yisrael and again they were forgiven.
Let us pose the following question: What if we were in Moshe Rabbeinu’s shoes? Say we had been on Mt. Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights without a drink of water or a morsel of bread to eat. This was total self-sacrifice. We come down to the nation and we see them joyously dancing around a Golden Calf — spiritual destruction!
The people thought Moshe was dead. However, if Moshe was “dead” in their minds — how long ago could it have been that they came to this conclusion? It had to be a matter of hours at most! How could they be dancing around at this juncture? Where is the period of mourning for the loss of their faithful leader who led them out of Egypt?
There is an English expression — “The body isn’t cold yet!” — and already they dance? What kind of business is this? The ingratitude demonstrated here is unbelievable! This is almost more shocking than the fact that they are worshipping an idol in the first place!
Keeping this in mind, we can picture how Moshe Rabbeinu must have felt. So when the Almighty comes to Moshe and tells him, “Moshe, I am going to destroy the people and I will make you into a great nation,” Moshe’s response should have been “You’re right! These are a bunch of ingrates! They don’t even have the decency for a minimal period of mourning. They should be wiped out!”
However, that is not Moshe’s reaction. Moshe begs for forgiveness on their behalf and issues a bold ultimatum to the Almighty. “And if not, blot me out from the Book you have written.” This is an unbelievably great Jewish leader.
There is only one type of relationship in which a person can act that way and get away with it. That is the relationship between a parent and a child. Even with a husband and wife — when one is disloyal the relationship is destroyed. However, a parent can take almost anything from a child. They may get upset for a while, but then they come right back. This in fact is spelled out in Chumash: “Like the nursemaid carries the suckling child” [Bamidbar 11:12] — such is the relationship between a Jewish leader and Klal Yisrael.
Rav Simcha Wasserman zt”l once made an interesting comment. In many places, the Talmud uses the expression “the spirit of the Rabbis are not pleased with him” (Ayn ruach Chachomim noche heimenu). In these places, the Talmud is not talking about real aveyros [sins], but rather things which “do not give “nachas” [pleasure of spirit] to the Rabbis, so to speak.” Normally, when we speak of “nachas,” we are speaking of something that our children give us when we are proud of them. Why is this term used in conjunction with the Rabbis reaction to the actions of the people? The answer, said Rav Simcha Wasserman, is that the relationship between parents and children is the same relationship as the relationship between the Sages of Israel and the nation. The Rabbis say “these are our children!” “I have nachas from them (when they act appropriately)”. However, when the people do certain other things, “Ayn ruach CHachomim noche heimunu” – the Rabbis do not get nachas from their “children”.
Either One Is “Designated” or One is Not Designated
Rav Simcha Wasserman’s father, Rav Elchonon Wasserman once made the following insight on a Friday night on Parshas Ki Sisa. Rav Elchonon Wasserman was in America on a fundraising trip for the Baronovich Yeshiva, which he headed. He gave a pitch for his Yeshiva in a shul in America on Friday night, Parshas Ki Sisa. Rav Elchonon announced “For eighty dollars, a person will have the merit of supporting the Yeshiva for one week.” In the 1930s, $80 went a long way in Baronovich. Rav Elchonon gave a passionate appeal and the people were becoming inspired by his message and were ready to contribute most generously.
However, the Rabbi of the congregation was not that enthused about having his members write checks for $80 for the Baronovich Yeshiva. He too got up to speak that same evening after Rav Elchonon. The congregation Rabbi spoke at length and the whole atmosphere which Rav Elchonon had created started to dissipate. The congregation Rabbi’s punch-line was “even if you give a single dollar to the Baronovich Yeshiva — that itself is a significant donation.”
Obviously, the wind had been let out of the balloon of the impassioned speech that the Rosh Yeshiva had given. Rav Elchonon’s yeshiva received next to nothing from that community. That night, the Rav went to the house where Rav Elchonon was staying and said to him, “I know you probably are upset about what happened this evening. You probably have complaints against me and my congregation.”
Rav Elchonon told him, “I have no complaints. Let’s look at this week’s Parsha. The Torah states: ‘Behold I have designated by name Bezalel son of Uri son of Chur.’ He is the fellow who is supposed to build the Mishkan. How was Moshe supposed to find this fellow Bezalel out of two million people in the camp? If he went from person to person asking, ‘Are you Bezalel ben Uri ben Chur?’ When someone responded negatively, would Moshe have any complaints against him? Obviously not! He was not Bezalel so he was not the one who was designated by G-d to build the Mishkan. It is not a matter of being offended by the fact — it’s just that he was not THAT person.
Likewise, the Ribono shel Olam said that the Baronovich Yeshiva will have supporters. Who are they? Not your shul. Not you. So you are not Bezalel, but I cannot have complaints against you. It is just obvious that you are not the person or the community that G-d has designated to build my Yeshiva in Baronovich. Someone else will have that merit in the World To Come. I cannot be upset that this person is to be found elsewhere and not here in your community.
One needs to have a Zechus [Merit] to be able to give to an appropriate institution. If one does not have that zechus, it is not the collector’s problem and he should not feel upset about it.
This write-up was adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Torah Tape series on the weekly Torah portion. The complete list of halachic topics covered in this series for Parshas Ki Sisa are provided below:
Tape # 046 – Dealing With Illness on Shabbos
Tape # 089 – Returning From Medical Emergency on Shabbos.
Tape # 137 – The Census: Can Jews be Counted?
Tape # 184 – You and Seriously Ill: How Much Responsibility
Tape # 230 – The Mitzvah of Shekalim and Davening Mussaf
Tape # 274 – Saying Tehillim at Night
Tape # 320 – The Melacha of Dyeing
Tape # 364 – The Melacha of Memachek
Tape # 408 – Fax Machines on Shabbos
Tape # 452 – Kiddush Shabbos Morning
Tape # 496 – Tallis: Bringing It Home On Shabbos
Tape # 540 – Machatzis Hashekel
Tape # 584 – The Meat Delivery At Your Door
Tape # 628 – Mincha – How Early, How Late?
Tape # 671 – Neigel Vasser – Washing Hands When Arising
Tape # 716 – Shliach Mitzvah: Is He Always Safe?
Tape # 760 – Can You Sell Your Aveiros?
Tape # 804 – Great Grandchildren
Tape # 848 – Oy! The Fridge Light Is On
Tape # 892 – Borer: Can You Separate White Meat from the Dark Meat?
Tape # 936 – The Obligation to Learn Tanach
Tape # 979 – Chilul Shabbos to Save a Person Who Will Die Shortly
Tape #1023 – The Onion That Was Cut With a Fleishig Knife
Tape #1067 – Cleaning Plastic Tablecloths, Contact Lenses on Shabbos
Tapes or a complete catalogue can be ordered from the Yad Yechiel Institute, PO Box 511, Owings Mills MD 21117-0511. Call (410) 358-0416 or e-mail [email protected] or visit http://www.yadyechiel.org/ for further information.
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