Parshas Ki Sisa
A Father's Prayer
"Hashem passed before him and proclaimed..."(34:6)
After shattering the Tablets in reaction to witnessing Bnei
Yisroel worshipping the Golden Calf, Moshe prayed on their behalf and saved
them from destruction. Hashem then agreed to give Bnei Yisroel a second set
of Tablets. When Moshe ascended the mountain to receive these Tablets,
Hashem taught Moshe the text of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy, a prayer
which invokes Hashem's mercy and reassures us that repentance is always
The verse states that Hashem passed before Moshe and proclaimed the Thirteen
Attributes. From the fact that Hashem passed before Moshe, the Talmud
derives that He wrapped Himself in a tallis like one who leads the
congregation, and showed Moshe the order of the prayers. Why was it
necessary for Hashem to wrap Himself in a tallis and go through all the
motions of the prayer in order to teach Moshe the text of the prayer?
Hashem was sending Moshe a message that this prayer will never go
unanswered. The reason for this phenomenon is that it invokes the love that
Hashem feels for his children. Much the same way as a father's concern for
his child's welfare is even greater than the concern that child has for his
own well-being, Hashem is revealing to Moshe that His concern for Bnei
Yisroel transcends their own, to the extent that He too, figuratively, prays
for their well-being.
1.Rosh Hashana 17b
Lighting The Internal Flame
"The Jews had light..." (Megillas Esther 8:16)
The verse states that the miracle of Purim brought light to the
Jews. The Ibn Ezra explains that this verse refers to Bnei Yisroel's
emergence from the darkness and gloom of impending destruction into the
light of salvation. The Talmud understands that a spiritual message is
being conveyed; "Orah" - "light" refers to the Torah. Bnei Yisroel
reaffirmed their commitment to Torah. What aspect of their commitment to
Torah was reaffirmed? Different elements of nature are used to depict the
Torah such as water, air, fire etc. Why, in describing the reaffirmation of
the Torah, is the Torah compared specifically to the element of fire?
In Parshas Beshalach the Torah records that when Bnei Yisroel departed from
Mitzrayim they were attacked by Amaleik at a place called Refidim. The
Midrash explains that the Torah records the name of the place because it is
a contraction of words that reveals the reason for Bnei Yisroel's
vulnerability to Amaleik's attack; "sherafu yedeihem min haTorah" -
literally, "they weakened their hands from the Torah", generally understood
to mean that they became lax in their Torah study. Why does the Torah
describe the laxity in their commitment as a weakening of the hands?
"Sherafu yedeihem min haTorah" implies that the Torah itself caused the
weariness, "min haTorah" - "as a result of the Torah". What insight is the
Midrash offering by couching the reason in such a manner?
In Parshas Ki Seitzei the same incident is recorded. However, unlike the
earlier version of the incident which ascribes Bnei Yisroel's vulnerability
to a spiritual laxity, the latter version describes Bnei Yisroel as
physically vulnerable, "ayeif veyageya" - "faint and exhausted". How do
these two versions coalesce?
Every action that we do falls into one of two categories. The activity
either has no intrinsic value other than facilitating reaching a desired
goal, or the activity may be necessary to reach a desired goal but it has
its own intrinsic value as well. Those activities which do not contain their
own intrinsic value are deemed burdensome and are almost always performed
with resistance because the individual has the knowledge that if the desired
goal could be achieved without having to perform these tasks, that would be
the preferred course of action. Only those endeavors which a person
perceives as having intrinsic value stimulate and energize him.
The study of Torah involves two aspects; one is the acquisition of knowledge
which enables us to observe the precepts in the prescribed manner.
Additionally, the study of Hashem's wisdom connects us to Him, giving
intrinsic value to the actual study.
The very essence and philosophy of Amaleik, that this world is devoid of
Divine providence and is therefore ruled by chance, removes all value from
anything that they do. Since, according to them, there exists no Divine
blueprint, all of existence is governed by the pursuit of
self-gratification, making every endeavor bereft of intrinsic value. This
notion is reflected in Amaleik's name, "amal kof" - "toil of a monkey"; a
monkey is the primate closest to man and can be taught to mimic human
behavior. However, although its actions are human in appearance alone, they
possess no intrinsic value. The Amaleik perspective leaves a person
unfulfilled and very often depressed. This leads to self-destructive
behavior which is the trademark of Amaleik, who are described by our Sages
The Torah identifies the deficiency within Bnei Yisroel as becoming weary
from the study of Torah. If a person approaches Torah study as only a means
to an end and does not appreciate its intrinsic value, the actual study will
make him weary. Weariness from Torah study indicates that we have allowed
the insidious Amaleikite philosophy, the feeling that our actions have no
value and we pass through life just going through the motions, to seep into
our own thought patterns.
It is the fire of Torah which energizes and gives us our fulfillment and
sense of purpose. Lacking this perspective weakens us not only spiritually,
but physically as well. When we allow our internal Amaleikite tendencies to
rise to the surface we open ourselves up to the attack of an external
Amaleik. On Purim we defeated our external enemies together with our
internal Amaleik which was eradicated by rekindling the flame of Torah. This
comes with the awareness of the intrinsic value of Torah study.
1.Megillas Esther 8:16
2.Megilla 16b and Shabbos 88b
6.See Rashi ibid