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Parshas Ki Sisa / Porah -  There is The King Who is aware of every Mask we put on!               21 Adar 5781

03/04/2021 06:36:37 PM

Mar4

Malcolm X. Forbes said, ”Every story has an end, but in life every end is just a new beginning.” Just as Purim has come and gone, so too have the costumes and the opportunity to be someone we are not, or, perhaps, maybe someone who we want to be! And… as Purim came to an end, many of us wished we could just remove the masks of Purim and go back to our true selves, only to come to terms with the reality that we still need to still wear our Covid-19 masks for the health and security of  fellow citizens. While some states cancelled the mask order, other states, including California, are keeping the mask order in place for the foreseeable future. While many of us cannot wait until we are able to bare our faces in public once again, for others, wearing a mask has been a blessing, as discussed in the following excerpt from an English publication.  

Lee dreaded run-ins with old friends and acquaintances around town, finding these spontaneous interactions “extremely awkward”. He used to time his shopping trips to minimize the possibility of bumping into someone he knew, waiting until almost closing time before heading out. “Since I've been wearing the mask, my awkward interactions with friends and family have significantly reduced,” he says. Now, he goes to the shops whenever he wants, without worrying about whom he might see. He hopes that, even after the pandemic ends, it will still be socially acceptable to wear a mask.

As stated earlier, wearing a mask is, for most of us, an annoying but worthwhile sacrifice; it is one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of Covid-19. Still, most of us look forward to the day when we can remove the mask permanently and see each other full face-to-face in public.

While face-coverings fog our glasses, clog our pores, and make it harder to smile at strangers and recognize friends, some secretly relish the new mask-wearing mandates for reasons ranging from the convenient and expedient to the more complex and psychological. Some welcome the way face coverings reduce or change interactions that might otherwise spark social anxiety. But is this a helpful, coping mechanism – and what happens when the pandemic comes to an end?

In this week’s Parsha Ki Sisa the Torah states in Shmos 34:33,34 "ויכל משה מדבר אתם ויתן על פניו מסוה. ובבא משה לפני ה' לדבר אתו יסיר את המסוה עד צאתו ויצא ודבר אל בני ישראל את אשר  יצוה"  : When Moshe finished speaking with them, he placed a ??? over his face. Whenever Moshe came before God to speak with Him, he would remove the ??? until he was ready to leave, he would then go out and speak to the Israelites, [telling them] what he had been commanded. What is the ??? According to Targum Yonason, Moshe covered his face with a hood. The Radak and LeKach Tov stated that it was a veil, while Rashi believed it to be a mask!

We know that Moshe Rabbeinu was the ‘humblest of all men’ and that he acted with an incredible sense of humility, interacting with people in a subdued, modest manner.  Nevertheless, as nice as this viewpoint seems, it is problematic. On the flip side, Moshe was considered a Melech/King, as stated in the Gemara Zevachim 102a:  Hashem referred to Moshe as a king, or he had the stature and the laws associated with being a king. As the leader, Moshe had an obligation to lead and rule with a ‘high hand’ and to be careful about his honor. There is a law that some individuals, such as parents, may forego their honor, but a king, even though he may try to forego his honor, cannot do so. The honoring must remain!  

The sefer Mayana Shel Torah quotes in the name of Rabbi Akiva Eiger* that Moshe was forced to mask or cover over his humility and modesty; his strength as a ruler and the accompanying command of respect were requirements even Moshe was not permitted to relinquish. When he appeared before the people, Moshe needed to show his greatness as a leader and king.  A king does not bow to the people, therefore he covered up his true self as an ‘anav’. In the next verse when Moshe appears before Hashem, he removes the covering from his face, revealing the true and humble man, a man who lowered himself in stature, a trait for which he is praised.   

The irony of Moshe having to cover his face stems from an earlier verse 34:29: “Moshe came down from Har Sinai with the Luchos of testimony in his hand. As Moshe descended down the mountain, he did not realize that the skin of his face had become luminous - a קרן עור  - when Hashem had spoken to him”. The Iben Ezra explains the word Kauran Or, literally, “was giving off rays (‘horns’) of light”. Reb Chaim ben Moshe Ittar, the Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh, writes that Moshe merited to have this radiance of light shine from his face because of his incredible amount of humility. The Torah itself testifies to Moshe’s humility. When Hashem told Moshe to write the word humble - ‘Anav’ עניו - in Hebrew, Moshe wrote it חסר , meaning missing, written without the letter ‘yud’ like this ענו. This alone demonstrates the humility of Moshe. It is for this reason that Moshe merited to have a radiant face beaming with light. This is hinted in the following Midrash: “Rabbi Yehuda Bar Nachman said there was a drop of ink left in the quill of Moshe when he completed writing the Torah. That drop of ink was the exact amount needed to write the letter ‘yud’.  Moshe did not want to write about his own humility and therefore left the ‘yud’ out.. The rays and beam of light are the result of that tiny drop of ink which Moshe did not use.

We are now all witness to seeing how simply wearing a mask can serve as an equalizer among people. Whether we are mandated to wear a mask or not, there are times when it is still necessary for some people under certain circumstances to wear one. We should take this lesson of the mask seriously.  Take the time to see the similarities and differences among the people of the world, using our masks to humble ourselves to others and to Hashem, but to also be aware of the benefit of both the need for humility while also being bold when it comes to leading Am Yisrael and the world, helping everyone to see the ultimate light and Emes/Truth in the world.

Ah Gutten Shabbos

Rabbi Avraham Bogopulsky

 

*Rabbi Akiva Eiger was born in Eisenstadt - the most important town of the Seven Jewish Communities of Burgenland, Hungary, (now Austria). He was a child prodigy and was educated first at the Mattersdorf yeshiva and later by his uncle, Rabbi Wolf Eger, at the Breslau yeshiva. Out of respect for his uncle, he changed his surname to Eiger. He therefore shared the full name Akiva Eger with his maternal grandfather, the first Rabbi Akiva Eger (1722–1758) (b. 5482, d. 15 Elul 5518), the author of Mishnas De'Rebbi Akiva who was rabbi of Zülz, Silesia from 1749 and Pressburg from 1756.

He was the rabbi of Märkisch Friedland, West Prussia, from 1791 until 1815; then for the last twenty-two years of his life, he was the rabbi of the city of Posen. Rabbi Eiger was a rigorous casuist of the old school;  his chief works were legal notes and responsa on the Talmud and the Shulchan Aruch. He believed that religious education was enough, and thus opposed the party which favored secular schools. He was a determined foe of the Reform movement, which had begun to make itself felt during his lifetime.

Among his children were his two sons, Avraham (1781–1853) and Solomon (1785–1852). His daughter Sorel (Sarah) Eiger Sofer (1790–1832) was the second wife of the Chasam Sofer (1762–1839), rabbi of Pressburg.

Tue, September 28 2021 22 Tishrei 5782