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Parshas Ki Sisa 5771

Rav Pesach Siegel

Parshat Ki Sisa

Feb 18, 2011

Parshas Ki Sisa 5771


The sixth day of the month of Sivan was the momentous day of the giving of the Torah. Moshe Rabeinu ascended Har Sinai. The Bnei Yisroel observed and listened as Hashem spoke directly to Moshe. The words of the Ten Commandments resounded throughout the world.


In the middle of the seventh day of Sivan, Moshe Rabeinu ascended, yet again, to receive the Luchos HaBris. He assured the people he would return in forty days time. The people miscalculated. They counted the actual day that he went up as day number one. Since he went up in the middle of the day, it was only a fragment, and didn’t count.  The Bnei Yisroel mistakenly assumed that he would return mid-day, on the sixteenth of Tammuz.


He didn’t.


When the time for his return passed, the Bnei Yisroel exclaimed, “Moshe Rabeinu is delayed”. 1


The Satan brought the world to a state of turmoil. Darkness descended in the middle of the day. The Satan challenged them, “Where is Moshe your master?”  They replied, He went up, upon high.”  “But, the sixth hour of his expected coming has passed, answered the Satan.”  They paid him no heed. “He is obviously dead”, and they paid the Satan no heed. Then, the Satan showed the Bnei Yisroel an image of the deathbed of Moshe Rabeinu. The Bnei Yisroel said, “Moshe Rabeinu is no more.” 2


They turned to Aharon HaKohen. “Make for us Elokim”, they demanded. Aharon called for all to bring their precious gold. He placed a cauldron on the fire and melted the gold. The graven image of a golden calf emerged from the molten gold. It danced, sounds issued from its mouth, and the Bnei Yisroel heard it proclaim, “Anochi Hashem Elokecha.” 3




Total destruction was decreed upon the Bnei Yisroel. Due to Hashem’s unlimited mercy, we were spared this fate. Alternatively, every bit of pain and punishment that we endure has part of the punishment for the sin of the Eigel HaZahav merged in. 4


It was wrong. It was a sin of grave proportions. But it came about due to an honest mistake. Moshe Rabeinu was their only link to the Creator. He joined heaven and earth. They were in a desert, totally cut off from any form of physical sustenance. They had no access to food, water, or shelter. There was no protection from the elements. They were totally reliant on the ability of Moshe Rabeinu to bring the supernatural into the natural world. Moshe was gone. There was no one among them who could possibly replace him. He was perfect. His physicality had the nature of the spirit.


And yet, they persisted. They waited, believing beyond all belief that he would return. He went where no human, born of a physical mother, had ever gone before. He walked among the angels. He took no food or water along with him for a period of forty days, and yet, they waited for him.


Until they saw his deathbed.


They entrusted Aharon HaKohen with the task of providing a new link between them and Hashem. They took the most precious possessions they had and melted them down. The Golden Calf emerged, seemingly, on its own. It was animated and it spoke. It spoke the words that, in their eyes, G-d put into its mouth, “Anochi Hashem Elokecha.”


Were it not for what the Satan showed them, they never would have sinned. Their initial mistake was a minute one. They miscalculated the date of Moshe’s return. Why is the offense considered one that the entire Jewish nation deserves to be consumed instantaneously?


In addition, if the Satan possesses such power, the power of illusion, to confuse them, darken their perception and actually show them, falsely, their worst fears confirmed, then what chance do they, or anyone else, have against the wiles of the Satan?


Background/Deeper Understanding


The Creator’s purpose in forming the word in which we live was to provide a vehicle for revealing His holy Torah. The world is tailor made, from the very words of the Torah. There is nothing in the world that doesn’t proclaim the wisdom of the Torah. If one were able to understand to the fullest the hidden wisdom behind each and every detail in creation, and compile the understandings into one body of literature, the result would be a Sefer Torah.


There are so many ways to misuse the blessings of this world. The misuse is born of a lack of understanding of the purpose of creation. Gaining a deep understanding into the words of the Torah grant us the “spectacles” to view the world in the true perspective.


Moshe Rabeinu was the one who gave us access to this perspective. It was though him, and only through him, that we can see reality in its true light. What Moshe Rabeinu defines as truth is truth. What Moshe Rabeinu defines as reality is reality. Any other way of viewing the reality of events is pure falsehood.




Let us return to the original error. Moshe Rabeinu assured the Bnei Yisroel that he would return in forty days time. His version of forty days time is forty full days. They misunderstood his words and counted the first day, as day number one. They misunderstood their rebbe.


When forty days elapsed, according to their calculation, they came to the conclusion that Moshe Rabeinu was late. The Satan told them he was dead. This, they did not believe, but they believed that Moshe was late.


This is the root of the aveira of the Golden Calf. They believed the evidence of their eyes over the words of Moshe Rabeinu. Moshe told them he would return in forty days time. If they count forty days and he has not yet returned, then to say that he is delayed is to, G-d forbid, believe that an untruth can issue from his mouth.


If Moshe said that he will be back in forty days, and he has not yet returned, then there is only one possible conclusion to draw – that it is not yet forty days. 5


This is true not just because Moshe Rabeinu would not utter an untruth, it is true because he cannot utter an untruth. What he gives over to us is the definition of truth. If it’s from Moshe Rabeinu it is true, if not, then it is falsehood. Moshe Rabeinu is “truth incarnate.”


The Bnei Yisroel, at that time, were the greatest of all. They were present at Matan Torah on Har Sinai. The Satan has power over us because we grant him that power. By believing that Moshe can disappear, although he guaranteed them that he would return, the Bnei Yisroel demonstrated that the world is lacking in clarity, it is dark, and that Moshe Rabeinu was “dead” among them. Thus the Satan was armed with the greatest of ammunition to cause the greatest of our people to fall.


A world without Moshe Rabeinu as the definition of truth is not a world. A nation without the eyes of Moshe Rabeinu is not a nation.


It is incumbent upon us, not to fall prey to the trickery of the Satan. Our values, and our perception of the reality of the world around us, must be shaped by the words of the Torah as handed down to us by Moshe Rabeinu.

1 Rashi, Perek 32, Posuk 1

2 Meseches Shabbos 89a

3  Medrash, quoted by Rav Moshe Alshich, Shoshanas Amakim, Shir HaShirim, Perek 1, Posuk 12-15

4  Rashi, Perek 32, Posuk 34

5  Rav Avrohom Chaim Levin, Shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Telshe-Chicago


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