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Parasha Insights from Rabbi Mansour

Parashat Ki Tisah


In Parashat Ki Tisah we read about the tragic episode of the Egel, which was when Jews worshipped the golden calf.  And we read about Moshe Rabenu’s reaction when he came down from the mountain on Har Sinai and saw what was going on, and he threw the Tablets from his hands and they came down and shattered, and they broke into pieces in front of all the Jewish people.  The Rabbis question Moshe Rabenu’s approach of breaking the Tablets.  He could have placed the Tablets on the side of the mountain and maybe come down and give them a speech, or give them Musar talk.  Why did he have to go to the extreme and actually smash the Tablets that had the word of G-d on it?

The Mefarshim learn form this a lesson in education or a lesson in Musar, that sometimes it is appropriate for the leader to use shock tactics.  Which means if Moshe Rabenu would have started screaming on top of the mountain and for example would have yelled out, “Rabotai it is forbidden, Rabotai it is a transgression”, it would have fallen on deaf ears, for the people were so engrossed in the Avoda Zara (idol worshipping) and in their reveling, and they wouldn’t have heard him nor accepted it.  So Moshe Rabenu had to do something drastic.  Moshe Rabenu had to do something to catch the attention of the people, so he had to throw the Tablets.  So when the people all of a sudden saw the Tablets tumbling down they were shocked to their core so much so that until the end of Moshe Rabenu’s life the Jewish people never worshipped Avoda Zara again.  So you see the tactic actually worked.

There was an interesting question that somebody once asked Rav Moshe Feinstein.  At the time there was various pathological testing being done on autopsies of Jewish people.  And the question was asked to Rabbi Feinstein, would it be permissible to take the limbs of those bodies that are being cut up and used for these tests, and display them at a rally to illustrate to the people what was going on.  The goal was to awaken the people of the severity of the crime of cutting open Jewish bodies.  By showing them the actual limbs themselves, maybe the shock would inspire them to make changes.  Rav Moshe Feinstein replied that in this specific case it would be permissible.  It was based on the concept that sometimes we have to go to extreme measures in order to give the people a wake up call and catalyst to amend their ways.

In our time just a few years ago, Bore Olam gave us a modern version of a shock attack, which was the destruction of the Twin Towers.  At the time, as you might remember, everybody was scared.  Nobody was able to believe that jet liners could be flown into buildings, and that the buildings actually came crumbling down and thousands of people died.  It is no question that Bore Olam does such things in order to shock us.

Unfortunately there are many shock attacks that we are having today in Israel, with all the terrorist bombings and the blowing up of busses and innocent people.  We hear on the news of 10 casualties and 20 casualties, and we hear of occurrences throughout the world.  These are shock attacks that Bore Olam is giving us in order to wake us up, because today’s generation has become so deafened to the words of Musar.  No longer does it help for a sermonizer to get up and start giving rebuke.  People say we heard it already and we know this already.  Bore Olam is shaking the world to its core in order to get people to change.

Let us not waste these different messages that Bore Olam is using.  Let it stand as a motivation for change for things to get better, and Be’Ezrat Hashem, Bore Olam will bring peace and tranquility in the world.  No longer will shock tactics need be used.  No longer will the method of breaking of the Tablets be needed.  Israel will receive the message and hear what G-d wants from them.  And they shall return to their roots and live with fear of G-d, Amen.

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Wed, February 20 2019 15 Adar I 5779