Points to Ponder

Ki Sisa 5775

Chelbanah (30:34) – One of the ingredients of the Ketores was the Chelbana which Rashi informs us had a foul smell to it. From the Chelbana we learn that when we daven, we must include the Poshei Yisrael. Rav Wolbe ztl. asks how we are supposed to include them if it is a Mitzva to hate them? He explains that one can hate their deeds but not the people. He adds that Rav Yerucham /levovitz ztl. would point ojut that only the greatest of Tzaddikim can hate Reshaim. The great ones have the ability to separate their disgust for the action of the wicked from the love of the person. Better one should have rachmanus on a Rasha than to hate him.

Behold I called in the name of Betzalel (31:2) – Why didn’t Hashem simply state that he appointed Betzalel? The Gemara in Berachos determines based on this that a position of authority needs to be Merutzeh LaKahal. The Vilna Gaon taught that the source for this was the concept of Shlucho Shewl Adam K’Moso. Rav Schachter Shlita would often quote Rabbeinu Tam who added that the same was true for Rabbanus – a Rav cannot function or be paid from the communal funds unless he is Merutzah L’Kahal.

On the seventh day it is a Shabbos of Shabbosos (31:15)- Rashi notes that we need to create a Menucha that is relaxed long term not temporarily relaxing. Rav Zevin ztl. points out that there are 2 types of rests. One comes from exhaustion and one is complete. The first, is merely a recharge in order to continue to forge forward while the latter comes after the job is done and man can rest fully. When it comes to Shabbos, we are commanded to see our work as completed – not a “Day Off” but rather as a completion of unit. This is the intention of the davening – Menucha Sheleima – a menucha that is only given to us but not the other nations.

The voice of rebellion I hear (32:18) – Rav Elyashiv ztl. points out that there are many different voices – those of strength and of weaknes but there is one type of voice that is stronger than the others --- the one of Anochi. For when one thinks only about himself it brings about the situation wherein  the Luchos get broken. Similar to HaBen Yakir Lee Efraim. The beloved son becomes a rebellious child when the Kavod enters the picture. That sets in, and removes a person from the world.

And he broke them under the mountain (32:19) – Why did Moshe break the Luchos? After all, it was only the Erev Rav that worshipped the golden Eigel? Why did Moshe punish the entire nation? And what would breaking the Luchos do for the process? Rav Shaul Yisraeli ztl. suggests that while true, the authentic Jews did not worship the Eigel, they did not do anything to stop it. The same nation that declared Naaseh V’Nishma thought it was enough to separate from a group that tried to pervert the Torah and its values. This was not the Torah way. The same Torah that demands that we stand up for it, demands that it be held to high esteem in the midst of even the neighbors living among us.

For Aharon exposed the nation to disgrace amongst those who would rise up against them (32:25) – The role of Aharon in the Eigel is the subject of much debate in the commentaries. On the one hand, Aharon clearly played a big role in the eigel but he does not seem to be punished the way the others were. How does this make sense? Rav Yisrael Belsky Shlita suggests that Aharon’s desire was similar to that of the Anshei Knesses HaGedola as identified in Yoma (69b). There, the Anshei Knesses HaGedolah were able to banish the Yitzra D’Avoda Zara. Aharon had wanted to do the same thing (See Rashi to 32:23). However, in his case it was not the time to undertake the attempt. He failed and the Eigel resulted. But he was not to be punished with the Ovdei Avoda Zara for it.

And it was on the next day Moshe told the people that they had sinned a serious sin (32:30) – Rashi comments that Moshe wanted to place a gap between the people and their sin. Sforno adds that the Jews had done Teshuvah for their sin. Why then was the gap necessary? Rav Chaim Shmuellevitz ztl. explains that even after Teshuva there is an inclination to return to the sin . This is part of the concept of Shana Bah Hutra Lo. The gap is necessary to undo the sinning habit.

Haftorah:  The miracle at Har HaCarmel – Eliyahu and Elisha were capable of performing many miracles. We do not find Yirmiyahu and Yeshayahu performing major miracles. Rav Dovid Povarsky ztl. explains that while the Neviim who worked outside of Yirushalayim needed the miracles in orde to demonstrate that they were indeed Shluchim of Hashem, those who were in Yirushalayim didn’t need the miracles because they were apparent just from being near the Beis HaMikdash.