Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Ki Sissa

The following is a brief summary of a vort said over by R' Frand this evening. I have attempted to reproduce the vort to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

In the beginning of Parshas Ki Sissa, Hashem commands Moshe to count the Jews through the mechanism of machasis hashekel. In Shemos 30:16, the Torah writes that the machasis hashekel was given for the work of the ohel moe'd. Rashi on this pasuk explains that this request actually took place after the sin of the golden calf as Moshe was commanded to count the Jews after the plague which followed the golden calf. Rashi then states that Hashem's request was akin to a flock of sheep which was precious to its owner. After the flock sustained significant losses due to disease, the owner asked his shepherd to count the flock to show how dear the flock was to him.

R' Frand then asked - if the Jews were so dear to Hashem, why send the plague in the first place? Furthermore, the owner of the sheep did not cause their death, so how is the situation comparable?

R' Frand answered his questions by saying over a vort in the name of the Tolner Rebbi. The Tolner Rebbi first made reference to the request that Moshe made to Hashem after the golden calf story was over that Moshe wanted to see Hashem (hareini na es kivodecha). The Tolner Rebbi asked in the name of the Sfas Emes - why did Moshe make this request now? Moshe had a relationship with Hashem for many years in Midyan and in Egypt and took the Jews out of Egypt. Why did Moshe only ask after the sin of the golden calf to see Hashem?

The Tolner Rebbi answered his question by making reference to a story involving the Kotzker Rebbi and his talmid the Chidushei Harim. The Chidushei Harim asked - why is it that I feel holier on the second day of yom tov than the first. The Kotzker Rebbi answered - when a husband and wife have an argument and then make up, they will feel more strongly about each other than they did before the fight. The fact that we have a second day of yom tov is because of our misdeeds which caused the Jews to be expelled from our land. The second day of yom tov is Hashem's way of making up with the Jews and that is why you feel more holy on the second day of yom tov.

Rabbi Frand then quoted the Rambam in his Perush Hamishnayos on Parah (3:3). The Rambam asked - who is more pure - one who was previously tamei and was mitaheir, or one who was never tamei in his lifetime? The Rambam answered that the one who was tamei and now became tahor is on a higher level of tahara because he went from a lower level to a higher level.

The Sfas Emes explained that the "make up" was the reason that Moshe asked hareini na es kivodecha after the sin of the golden calf. At this point, the Jews and Hashem had gotten back together and Moshe felt closer to Hashem. It was at this juncture that Moshe wanted to see Hashem.

This is also the explanation of Rashi's mashal. Hashem had brought the plague on the Jews after the sin of the golden calf because they needed to be punished. But now that the punishment was over, it was time to show Hashem's love for the Jews and to bring them closer by counting them and using the funds to build the mishkan.

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