Vertluch: Parshas Ki Sisa


Thisweeks parsha hasone of the lowest moments in our illustrious history, the sin of the goldencalf. In the beginning Moshe goes up to heaven to receive the Torah from Hashem.The bnei Yisroel miscalculate the exact time of Moshe’sreturn and decide to make an intermediary between themselves and the RibonoShel Olam. Hashemso to speak ‘taps’ Moshe on the shoulder and says ‘look what’s going on downthere.  It’s disastrous. There’s avodah zara, immoral acts andmurders taking place. They need your help.’ As the pasuk says ‘lechreid…ki sheechays amcha.’ The pasuk continues and says ‘sarumaher’- they were straying quickly; they gathered and bowed down and theybrought korbanos and they said ‘el-eh elokecha Yisroel…’

Moshe descends from the heavensand he sees what is happening. At that time, he was holding the Luchosin his hands-the Luchos that were written by Hashem, inscribed onboth sides, the work of Hashem etched on them. As the pasuk says ’and it waswhen Moshe came near the camp and he saw the calf and the dances and his angerburned and he threw down the Luchos from his hand and he shattered them at the bottom of themountain.”

Hashem warned Mosheand actually told him what was going on while he was up in shomayim. He knewexactly what was going on like a live feed-play by play.  But the pasuk clearly says he ‘saw something.’ What did he see more than what Hashem already told him? Isn’t Hashemtelling him something better than him physically seeing it? Why did he wait untilhe actually saw what was going on to break the Luchos and what was itthat he saw now that he didn’t know before?

Sforno saysthat Moshe knew what events were taking place, as was previously told tohim by Hashem and he had absolutely no doubt about it. He knew there wasan egel. But all Hashem said was that there was an egeland Moshe felt that there are times when people sin and commit aveirosbut there’s still hope.  He knew that there was hope for bnei Yisroel too and that theywere still worthy of accepting the Torah. But when he saw the dancingand rejoicing over the aveira and he saw how they were doing the aveira he realized there wasno hope and he right awaybroke the Luchos rightin front of their eyes!

However, there’sstill a very strong question. If Moshe thought that klal Yisroel was not worthy ofreceiving the Luchos why did he bring it down altogether? Why not put itaside for a future date? What was the message or intention that he had to breakit in front of the eyes of bnei Yisroel? The last pasuk in the Torah says that one of thegreatest praises of Moshe was that he broke the Luchos in front of klalYisroel. The Torah ends off לעיני כל ישראל and Rashi says…’ששברת’, that Moshe shattered the Luchos. What wasthe lesson that Moshe was trying to get across?

RavShimon Shkop, zt’l, answers beautifully with a lesson we must never forget.He quotes the gemara in Eiruvin which says that had the Luchosrishonim not been broken, Torah would’ve never been forgottenfrom klal Yisroel.  Thereason is that there was a special koach in them. All a person had to dowas learn from it once and he would never forget it. Moshe rabbeinusaw that this can lead to chilul Hashem. He saw that there wouldbe a potential for people to be fluent in-and know-kol haTorah kula and yet, lack yiras shomayim,sensitivity towards others and basic elementary levels of derech eretz! Again, he sawpeople with no yiras shomayimwho could be fluent in the entire books of Torah. There is nogreater chilul Hashem than that! Moshe only realized thiswhen he saw the actions of the bneiYisroel and understood that this specific Luchoswas not for them. He knew he would have to go back up to shomayim andget a second set for klal Yisroel. He broke it in front of themto show them that if they really want it, they’ll have to prepare for it;they’ll have to work for it. You have to be a gomel chessed, a rachamim,a person with shame, first. To start, prepare for it-portray good middos and onlythen you can acquire it. This is pshat in the pasuk when it says‘pisul licha’, carve for yourself, and not like the original set of Luchoswhere it would have been directly from Hashem.

That wasthe lesson that Moshe wanted to show klal Yisroel and thiswas one of the legendary accomplishments of Moshe that the Torahlists at the end of his life.

We allwant to be koneh Torah. Let us prepare for it.