dvar Ki Tisa 5781 – the Remedy Prevails

parashas Ki Tisa 5781

B”H

dvar for parashas Ki Tisa 5781

“H’Shem plagued the people, because they made the calf.”

– Exodus 32:5, JPS 1917 Tanach

Moses was on Mount Sinai for forty days and forty nights; during this time, H’Shem spoke with Moses – according to some commentators, Moses received the instruction for the Mishkan at this time. It is mentioned in the Talmud, that H’Shem creates the cure before the ailment. Here, the blueprints for the Mishkan served as the remedy to what had not yet occurred – the idolatry of the golden calf. H’Shem prepared the cure (Mishkan) before the sickness (eigel).

What is the malaise of idolatry? To place anything in our lives above our commitment to H’Shem. This raises up the created above the Creator, G-d forbid. Everything is in the hands of Heaven, except for the fear of Heaven (Talmud). Therefore, our conscious effort to make G-d most important in our lives through yiras H’Shem (reverence towards G-d) is incumbent upon us; in effect, we are called upon to crown Him as King – sovereign over every aspect of our lives.

In these challenging days, we also look for the remedy to the various ailments of our lives; yet, even when there seems to be little hope on the horizon, we must maintain a sense of bechirah (trust) in H’Shem, that He has already designated, the time, place, and remedy for each of us to continue on the derech (path) towards righteousness, drawing closer to Him with every step along the way.

Yet, the path is narrow, there are many distractions along the way. It was only when Moshe sought out the forgiveness of H’Shem, on behalf of B’nei Yisrael, that he was able to receive the second set of tablets. We are also given second chances in our lives; however, if we do not even realize the need to improve upon our ways, we may be given a wake up call.

The Mishkan (portable tabernacle in the wilderness) permitted B’nei Yisrael to focus on avodas (worship of H’Shem); we need to do the same, in a manner of speaking, and be ever mindful of H’Shem’s Presence in our lives; then, we can devote our mitzvoth (good deeds) to Him. “I have set the L-RD always before me; surely He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved” (Psalms 16:8, JPS 1917 Tanach).

Crushed for the Sake of Purity

parashas Tetzaveh 5781

 “And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure olive oil beaten [crushed] for the light, to cause a lamp to burn continually.” – Exodus 27:20, JPS 1917 Tanach

H’Shem instructs Moshe to command B’nei Yisrael (the Children of Israel) to provide the olive oil that will be used for the seven-candled Menorah, residing in the Holy Place of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), outside of the paroches (curtain) that served as a veil, dividing the Kadosh Kadoshim (Holy of Holies) where the Ark of the Covenant was kept, from the Kadosh [Holy], where the Menorah, Showbread Table and Incense Mizbeach (Altar) were placed.

The light of the Menorah represents the light (ohr) that existed at the beginning of Creation; yet, this light was hidden after the sin of Adam, and reserved for the righteous in the Kingdom. Even so, there is a light that shines in the darkness of our lives, despite all of the years of oppression. “I will bear the indignation of H’Shem, because I have sinned against Him; until He plead my cause, and execute judgment for me; He will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold His righteousness” (Micah 7:9).

We are likened to the olives that are crushed, until a drop of pure olive oil is produced, representing the transformation of our brokenness into a purity of heart that only occurs after surviving the many nisyanos (challenges) in our lives. Perhaps, this is why the people themselves were commanded by Moshe to bring the purest olive oil for the light of the Menorah that burns continually, i.e., to emphasize our plight in the world that would reveal the light that shines in the darkness on a continual basis – the ner tamid. For “H’Shem shall be unto thee an everlasting light” (Isaiah 60:19, JPS).

 

His Presence

parashas Terumah 5781

“The veil shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy.”

– Exodus 26:33, JPS 1917 Tanach

The Ark of the Covenant with the tablets, rested within the Kadosh Kadoshim – the Holy of Holies. The cover was designed with two golden cherubim with their wings spanning the breadth of the Ark. The Holy of Holies was separated by the paroches – a veil – a finely embroidered curtain that was placed between the holiest place where the Ark containing the Ten Commandments was kept, and the Kadosh (Holy place), where the menorah, showbread table and copper incense mizbeach (altar) were placed. The holy place was frequented by the Kohein, while the most holy place received one visitor each year – the Kohein Gadol – only on Yom Kippur.

Although the offerings made within the mishkan were facilitated by the Kohein, symbolically, Torah points us in the direction of making ourselves a sanctuary for H’Shem’s Presence. According to the pasuk (verse), “Make Me a sanctuary, so that I may dwell within them” (Exodus 25:8). Therefore, let us consider, that we need to clear away a space inside of ourselves, in order to invite H’Shem to dwell within us. It is not necessary to use a broom and dustpan; although, figuratively speaking, perhaps, a feather to clean our minds and hearts, according to the moral inventory of Torah.

In preparing ourselves to sense H’Shem’s Presence, through the kedushah (holiness) that we create by sanctifying our lives, with respect to our higher aspirations, we remove ourselves from the realm of unholiness. Within our “inner sanctum” – the holy of holies – where only each one of us as sovereign individual of our own soul may enter, there we find H’Shem in the solace of a quiet refuge. “Rest in the L-rd, and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7).

“Who shall ascend into the mountain of the L-RD? And who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart. – Psalms 24:3-4, JPS 1917 Tanach

parashas Ki Tisa 5781 – Gold Dust Words Give Life: Torah for the Soul

The incident of the golden calf conveys within the narrative, an allusion to the law of the sotah – the wayward wife – whereof a woman suspected of adultery is tested by way of drinking "bitter water." Israel is likened to the sotah, in this case, because the people, in a sense, committed adultery by turning away from H'Shem, and worshipping another god.
  1. parashas Ki Tisa 5781 – Gold Dust
  2. parashas Ki Tisa – Incense and Avodah
  3. parashas Ki Tisa 5781 – the Remedy Prevails
  4. parashas Tetzaveh 5781 – Exilic Faith
  5. parashas Tetzaveh 5781 – Crushed for the Sake of Purity

Contrasts Reconciled

“And these are the judgments that you shall set before them.” – Exodus 21:1

v’eilah mishpatim – and these are the judgments”

The parashas begins, “and these are the judgments.” In Hebrew, the letter vov, meaning “and,” bears significance here. For the implication can be drawn, that there is a connection being emphasized, between this parashas and the previous one. Immediately following the revelation at Sinai, whereof H’Shem “descended,” amidst the thunder and lightning, in an impressive display of His greatness, the Torah begins to list the mishpatim, a set of commandments that seem pale, mundane, and this-worldly in comparison. A simple question may be asked, in and of itself, what does this juxtaposition of opposites portray in its contrast of a heightened experience at Sinai, to the relatively dry giving forth of commandments having to do with everyday life?

All areas of life are intertwined, as characterized within the framework of Torah. G-d’s divine plan for mankind has as much to do with His appearance on Sinai, amidst the thunder and lightning, as the everyday guidelines given to us in order to regulate our conduct. Although many would conceive of religion, as somehow separate from the mundane affairs of life, this can not be the case. Also, in regard to what is considered as the spiritual realm, wherein, through prayer or hisbodedus (meditation), we may reach great heights of sublime experience that seem “out of the ordinary:” these experiences must not take precedent over our attempts to live a righteous life, in all the manner of details.

Yet, perhaps, it is all to common to focus on the spiritual component, to the exclusion of leading a leading a life based upon G-d’s commandments. Thus, a compartmentalization of spiritual experiences may occur, while conducting oneself in a manner akin to secular standards. Rather, the sublime ways that we connect to G-d should sharpen our acuity to bring down this awareness into every aspect of our lives, encompassing all areas that might otherwise be overlooked, disregarded, or not held up to the light of reason, within the perspective given to us by all of kitvei kodesh (Holy Scripture).

parashas Ki Tisa 5781 – Gold Dust Words Give Life: Torah for the Soul

The incident of the golden calf conveys within the narrative, an allusion to the law of the sotah – the wayward wife – whereof a woman suspected of adultery is tested by way of drinking "bitter water." Israel is likened to the sotah, in this case, because the people, in a sense, committed adultery by turning away from H'Shem, and worshipping another god.
  1. parashas Ki Tisa 5781 – Gold Dust
  2. parashas Ki Tisa – Incense and Avodah
  3. parashas Ki Tisa 5781 – the Remedy Prevails
  4. parashas Tetzaveh 5781 – Exilic Faith
  5. parashas Tetzaveh 5781 – Crushed for the Sake of Purity