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Parshas Ki Sisa

03/05/10 03:05:34


One of the worst events in Jewish history was the sin of the golden calf. Moshe Rabbeinu did not come down from Mount Sinai at the time that the Jews had "thought" he was to arrive. Moshe though was precisely on time, but it was the Jewish people who miscalculated. A miscalculation of a few hours led the course of history to be changed. The Midrash teaches us that the events of Matan Torah, the giving of the Torah had brought the Jewish people and the world back to a state of purity and perfection that the world had not known since the Garden of Eden. This state of elevation came crashing down as Moshe smashed the Tablets that he brought down from the mountain.

What was the sin?

The verse in chapter 32:8 states "Saru Mahair Min Haderech asher Tzivisim, Asu Lahem Masecha Vayishtachavu Lo, They have been quick to abandon the way I instructed them to follow, they have made for themselves a molten calf-idol and they bowed down to it". One interpretation given by Nachal Kedumim says the key to their "success" in sinning was that they were quick and did it fast. If they wanted to rebel and not do a certain Mitzva they might have to wait for the opportunity of that Mitzvah to come along. If they wanted to violate Shabbos they would have to wait until Shabbos comes. The sin that they chose was one of instant gratification, Idolatry. Avodah Zara, foreign worship of a deity can happen anytime and any place and that's why their downfall was so immediate. This is why they can fall from such great spiritual heights and fall to the depths of despair. The sin of worshipping idols is tantamount to the repudiation of the entire Torah.

We today are living through our own sin of the golden calf. The Jewish people in general and the Orthodox in particular desire instant gratification. Mind you, that we are not speaking in terms of physical gratification but religious gratification. Individuals want that learning and knowledge should come right away after a brief study session. Every sermon the Rabbi gives should be to my exact liking and taste. Parents feel that their children should be educated immediately within the framework of our schools and Shuls without having to be a role model for their children. Sure it's easy to say "this is no good" or "they are not effective" and "therefore we need to get rid of it or them". People are looking for the solutions to come to them without working on themselves and their families. Klal Yisroel should have had the patience for Moshe and realize that getting something else was not going to solve their issues.

If we want our society to be better and our children to grow up with better values then it must begin at home with ourselves. If we have certain expectations from people then we must demand that of ourselves first. We can't just throw it away because it did not meet my expectations, rather one must lead by example for others to learn by. If one person had stood up when Moshe was thought to have been dead and said let us wait and work on ourselves then the world would have been a very different place. If we stand up and lead by example and not criticize everyone and everything else then the world will surely be a different world in the future. Leading us back to the perfection of the world by recognizing the faults within us and fixing ourselves will ultimately bring about a world that resembles the Garden of Eden.

Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Avram Bogopulsky
Sat, August 8 2020 18 Av 5780