Vertluch: Parshas Ki Sisa


In this weeks parsha we read about the sin of the Egel, a nadir in our illustrious and rich history Chazal tell us that this sin was so severe, that it was like being ‘mezaneh tachas chupa’. Hashem couldn’t punish us all at once for the sin, for that would work by annihilating the entire nation. Rather, He had to spread out the punishment throughout the future generations. It is extremely difficult to understand the mindset of klal Yisroel at the time of the Egel. Here was a nation that just experienced the greatest revelation in the history of the world with Matan Torah, yet they so quickly danced around the Egel saying ‘this is our god?’ How was it possible for klal Yisroel to do something like this?

The Bais Halevi says that one of the biggest criticism against klal Yisroel, was ‘suru maher min haderech’ the fact that bnei Yisorel strayed and fell from being on such a high to stooping to such a low level in such a short amount of time. But the truth is that there is a Chazal that says Hashem told Moshe that ‘yesterday bnei Yisroel said naaseh v’nishma and the next day they called the Egel ‘ele-h elokecha Yisroel; that this calf took us out of Mitzrayim.’ Chazal continue and say that the complaint of ‘suru maher’ was that Hashem said ‘they misled me with their mouths, lied with their tongues and their hearts were not with me’. This was proof that the contrast from yesterday to today was a sign that yesterday wasn’t really legitimate when klal Yisroel said ‘naaseh v’nishma.’

The pasuk in tehillim says ‘mi ya’aleh b’har Hashem, umi yakum b’mkom kodchoy’-who climbs the mountain of Hashem and who’s place is it next to the place of Hashem? The answer is he who climbs the mountain and stays there can say that he climbed the mountain of Hashem.

When a person tries to climb the har Hashem he has to do it in a slow pace so that they will remain there forever. Similar to climbing a ladder; a person needs to step up one rung at a time. If one tries to jump from the bottom of the ladder to the top and they can’t, that indicates that they were never ascending the ladder to begin with.

Hashem tells Moshe (32; 9)’I have seen this people, and behold! It is a stiff-necked people’. What Hashem was saying was that had it just been the actual aveirah perhaps Hashem would have been able to deal with it. However, once Hashem said ‘am kishey oref hu’-He was saying that they are a stubborn nation; they would refuse to accept mussar.

The Chazon ish was often asked what to look for in a shidduch. His response was that one of the most important things to make sure of is that the other party is not stubborn. It is extremely unsafe to create a family with a person who cannot be mevater and give in, as there is only room for disaster.

The lesson we can learn from the parsha is a twofold approach to life. Firstly, a person has to take steady steps; steps that would ensure they won’t fall and to take them when they are ready. People will help as to which steps to take at which point of the game. We want a person to take the steps and be able to stay there. Secondly, a person has to have the ability to accept and to listen. The combination of someone going at his pace and how he wants to do things, will lead to success.

When we said ‘naseh v’nishma’ did we really mean it? Not really. How do we know that? It is evident how things transpired with the Egel. Had we been sincere it would have never happened; we were stubborn and did not listen.

One summer Friday morning, Reb Shlomo Freifeld, Zt”l was asked to bring a sefer Torah to the mountains. He agreed and it was placed in his car. While on the way up he got stuck in some heavy traffic. By the time he got to the bungalow colony it was only twenty minutes to Shabbos. As soon he pulled in, he asks a boy to take the sefer Torah and bring it to the shul instead of taking it himself.

After Shabbos he felt terrible about the way he had mistreated the sefer Torah-for he did not escort it to the shul himself. From there on, every time he would get an aliyah he would hold the sefer Torah with his tallis-not actually touching the Atzi Chaim of the sefer Torah. He felt it wasn’t befitting for him to touch it after he treated it the way he did. He felt he hadn’t treated the Torah properly.

One day he saw a bachur doing the same. So he admonished the talmid and said, ‘Daniel, that’s not for you-that’s for me!’ He felt that he had to do something for his lack of kavod for the Torah. But he felt that he was on the level to do that. He felt others didn’t belong doing such a thing. Everyone has to know their place and to know how and when to do things. By realizing these two nekudos it will only cause one to succeed in their avodas Hashem.

May we all be zoche to grow by taking steady steps and even more important-we should be zoche to maintain the new levels that we aspire to and reach every day.