Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Ki Sissa

The following is a brief summary of thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts 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 Shemos 33:18-23, there is an exchange between Hashem and Moshe where Moshe asks Hashem to show him Hashem's greatness and Hashem responds that he can only see from behind. The Gemara in Berachos states that Hashem showed Moshe the knot of the Tefillin which is worn on the back of the neck. Rashi in other places states that Moshe did not understand the knot of the Tefillin of the head because Moshe did not understand it. 

R' Frand asked - why is it that Moshe only had a problem with the knot of the Tefillin of the head? What about the way the boxes looked? What about the knot on the hand? Did Moshe understand these elements?

R' Frand answered by quoting R' Ferrer (sp?) who notes that Hashem complained to Moshe three times in the parsha that the Jews are "am k'shei oref" - a stiff necked people - at Shemos 32:9, 33:3 and 33:5. 

The Jews were rebellious and argumentative and contentious. Moshe did not understand this and Hashem had to show him that although the Jews are argumentative, there are times that this middah is positive so as to allow the Jews to withstand pressure brought by their enemies. 

R' Frand explained that Moshe wanted to know where to tie the Tefillin of the head because he wanted to know when it was appropriate to be an am k'shei oref. Hashem responded, when they act in a way that rejects and argues with religion that is a negative use of this middah. But when the Jews use it to stubbornly for perseverance and adherence to the the religion it is positive. 

R' Frand then noted that Hashem had complained to Moshe three times that the Jews were an am k'shei oref. But later in the parsha at Shemos 34:9, Moshe says to Hashem - stay with the Jews because they are an am k'shei oref. He then follows with the statement - forgive your nation! After all the complaining that Hashem had articulated to Moshe, why did Moshe turn around and use the same language to influence Hashem not to destroy the Jews? This is counter intuitive!

R' Frand answered that Moshe had learned the secret - it all depends on how they use their stubbornness. Moshe was saying to Hashem - stay with them because they will use their middah of k'shei oref in a positive way to stubbornly stick to their religion.

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