Parshat Ki Tisa 5784: Disunity Among the Am, Hashem’s “Audible” and October 7th?

Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parsha Ki Tisa is being sponsored by Dov and Lauren Greenberg and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for the safety of the Chayalim and the liberation of all hostages and their return home whole physically, mentally and spiritually. To the Greenberg family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3

Parshat Ki Tisa 5784: Disunity Among the Am, Hashem’s “Audible” and October 7th?

by Moshe Burt

Each year by our Parshat Ki Tisa, this author loves to replay this oft-repeated parody on NFL Football as it relates to Hashem, Moshe and the sin of the golden calf (the eigel zahav):

Imagine yourself as an American football quarterback. it’s the BIG game — Superbowl 58, the fourth quarter of a nail-biter with both teams tied, two minutes left and the game threatening to go into overtime.

Your team emerges out of the huddle (huddle: the eleven players on offense in a circle as the quarterback pronounces the next play) and the quarterback stands over the center, or in “shotgun” formation a few yards behind center, and calls signals.

The quarterback studies the defensive formation and suddenly audibles [Noun. Also called automatic, checkoff. Football. A play called at the line of scrimmage to supersede the play originally agreed upon as the result of a change in strategy or, as football fans and experts observe; during the play itself, dependent upon what the quarterback sees as the alignment of the defense at the line of scrimmage, or the tendencies of the defensive positions during the play]. He changes up on the play called in the huddle. No, we’re not talkin’ about the “Philly Special.”

Now, think back to Hashem and Moshe Rabbeinu atop Har Sinai. What follows is an excerpt from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s summary of Parshat Ki Tisa in his sefer “Unlocking the Torah Text” (Sefer Shemos, page 257) :

Hashem speaking to Moshe on the summit of Mount Sinai, issues commandments concerning:

An indirect census to be taken of Am Yisrael’s males, twenty years and over, through individual contributions of half shekels;

The creation of the laver [Liyor: wash basin], the anointment oil and the incense to be used in association with the Sanctuary [Mishkan];

The appointment of Betzalel ben Uri ben Chur and Oholaiv ben Achisamach to supervise the construction of the Mishkan;

Shabbos Observance.

At the conclusion of these directives, Hashem presents Moshe with the two Tablets of Testimony inscribed with the Asseret HaDivrot (the Ten Declarations).

Meanwhile, at the foot of Har Sinai, the Jews grow uneasy with Moshe’s prolonged absence. They turn to Aaron and demand: “Rise up, make for us gods who will go before us, for Moshe — this man who brought us out of the land of Mitzrayim — we do not know what has become of him!”

Aaron instructs the people to contribute their gold earrings, which he fashions into a molten calf. He then declares, “A festival for the Lord tomorrow!” The Jews rise early the next morning to celebrate. Rabbi Goldin citing Sefer Shemos, Perek 32, posukim 5-6)

Suddenly, amidst Hashem’s teaching of Torah to Moshe, HaKadosh Borchu, in American football terms, calls an audible. Returning to the excerpt from the Parshat Ki Tisa summary, Rabbi Shmuel Goldin summarizes Hashem’s reaction to B’nei Yisrael and the egel zahav (the golden calf) in his sefer, “Unlocking the Torah Text” (ibid, pages 257-258) :

Hashem informs Moshe, who is still on the summit of Har Sinai, of the sin… perpetrated at its base. Hashem threatens the nation with immediate extinction, relenting only in response to Moshe’s impassioned pleas.

Moshe descends the mountain with the Tablets of Testimony [the Asseret HaDivrot]. When he sees the revelry… in the camp of B’nei Yisrael, …he throws the tablets from his hands in anger, smashing them at the foot of the mountain. Moshe then burns the calf, grinds its remains into powder which he sprinkles into the water and forces the B’nei Yisrael to drink, takes Aaron to task for his involvement in the sin and directs the Levi’im (who rally to his side) to execute those most directly involved in the transgression.

The Sochaczever Rebbe, Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, z”l discusses the real problem which brought the Am to seek an alternative leadership in his sefer “Shem Mishmuel” Rendered to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski (pages 195 – 196):

…We need to closely examine the root cause of Klal Yisrael’s original demand for the calf. We may assume that Aaron penetrated the depths of their consciousness and responded accordingly. Aaron realized that the problem was caused by the absence of Moshe. Perhaps the greatest achievement of Moshe was to keep the Klal as a unified entity, preventing it from splitting into factions. There was no internal unity within Klal Yisrael until after they crossed the Yarden and entered the Land. Before that time, they needed a man of Moshe’s stature and immense spirituality to guide them through their collective experiences and to ensure that no selfish interest took control of the people. His loss, however temporary, threw the nascent [adjective: beginning to exist or develop] nation into disarray. They rapidly became a rabble of individuals, rather than a cohesive unit. They managed to hold themselves together for the forty days during which Moshe had promised to be absent, but now, when they thought that the time had elapsed and that he was gone forever, their ability to continue without a unified force collapsed.

This author now asks the question: Could October 7th be understood as Hashem calling a modern-day “audible?”

Consider the disunity of the Klal prior to October 7th over the Judicial Reform legislation. Recall that the “reasonableness law” passed in Knesset only to have the legal society-appointed Israeli High Court assert that it had the “right” to strike down Basic Laws. Remember the months and months of often divisive demonstrations against any form of judicial reform with reservists and pilots threatening not to respond to call-up orders should the reform legislation pass into law. And lest we forget the decades-long battles between the governed Am, Knesset and the High Court over applying sovereignty and legalizing towns in Yehuda and the Shomron and more when it comes to Israel asserting Hashem’s Divine Rights to Eretz Yisrael.

As if we have yet to learn from events of Simchat Torah, October 7th, some within the very factions who were divisive against judicial reform seem now to represent themselves as a faction of the hostage families who force their way into the Knesset demanding the return of the remaining hostages, at ALL costs, be it return of hundreds of October 7th bloody-handed terrorists, giving the barbarians of Hamas and their terrorist buddies new life to kill many more of us, resultant danger to the lives of more Chayalim and endangering Israel’s sovereignty and Jewish lives.

Could it be that October 7th could be Hashem’s wake-up call to Am Yisrael to unite as one and take unequivocal, decisive action to destroy and eradicate the barbarous, animalistic terrorists of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and if necessary Iran, in spite of the so-called existing “constraints” — be they in minds of political, governmental or military chiefs’ minds, pressure from divisive Israeli factions, or regarding Israeli/American relations or the addiction to US military aid?

May it be that our Chayalim emerge totally victorious — eradicating Hamas, their terrorist buddies and the so-called “innocent civilians” of Gaza who joined with Hamas in their murderous deeds, and return home whole — physically, mentally and spiritually and that the Chayalim Liberate and bring home all remaining hostages.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently re-settled in Gush Katif, once the IDF, by the Yad Hashem, destructs and eradicates the wild beasts of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, all other terror entities, and if necessary Iran, and that our brethren be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them, that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes and the oft-destroyed Yeshiva buildings in Homesh be rebuilt, as well as the buildings of Yishuv Elchanan, all at total government expense. May our Chayalim return from battle unharmed — physically, mentally and spiritually and may all of the hostages brutally taken by the wild beasts of Hamas be liberated and returned to their families. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now in his fourth year at home in Eretz Yisrael and continues in a new chapter in his life. May Esther Yocheved bat Yechiel Avraham have an aliyah in Shemayim and may her spirit and memory continue to lift Jonathan to at least 120 years. May the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of nine years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we see, in 5784, the REAL Jews from the Ukraine and Russia as well as the US and Canada, the real Jews via matrilineal descent, make Aliyah enmass — via thorough review by Misrad HaPanim. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese Wuhan Lab corona virus pandemic and all like viruses and variants. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.