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Volume II : Issue XVI
!di"r-in-Chief: #riel Amse$em ’15 %enior Edi"r: !itan Meisels ’15 &ichael Somekh ’15 &anaging Edi"rs: Jack Levkowitz ’17 !itan Tennenbaum ’17 'ayout Edi"r: (air Fax ’14 &arke)ng: (osef Hier ’16 #sher Naghi ’14 *is+ibu"rs: &itche$ Silberberg ’14 &ichael Lazovsky ’14 Jordan Lustman ’15 %ta, Advisor: -abbi Arye Su.i/
The Pamphlet of Light
Parshat Ki Tisa
A publication of YULA Boys High School!
Rabbi Avner Shapiro
Shabbat: An Antidote for the Chet Ha’Egel
The Flame of Our Ancestors
“A lion does not roar over a basket of straw but over a basket of meat” - Brachot 32a
(osef Petlak ’17
In this week’s Parsha, we find the infamous episode of the Cheit Ha'Egel. Many Meforshim grapple with what the exact nature of this Cheit was, and what caused some members of Bnei Yisrael to be involved with this sin. An additional question in the Parsha has to do with the context of the story of the Cheit Ha'Egel. Both before and after the Cheit we have a description of the Mitzvah of Shabbat. The Sefer Ha’Kuzari explains why the sin is placed between two commands to observe Shabbat. The Kuzari writes that the Cheit Ha'Egel was not an Aveirah of Avodah Zarah. The Bnei Yisrael did not look for a new G-d to replace the One who redeemed them in Egypt; the Jews still recognized that the G-d who took them out of Mitzrayim was singular. However, there is a violation in the Torah of “Lo Ta’aseh Licha Kol Pesel V’Kol Temunah;” one should not create any physical object, whether a picture or a statue, that is not commanded by the Torah and see it as having an association to the Ribbono Shel Olam. This is not Avodah Zarah but rather a specific sin in the way one worships the Ribbono Shel Olam. Bnei Yisrael's sin lies in their unwillingness to focus on the Ribbono Shel Olam as a spiritual entity. The challenge is to be able to relate to Him despite the fact that He is a Keil Mistater, a G-d who is concealed due to his non-physical existence. The Mitzvah of Shabbat directly addresses the challenge of connecting with our Creator. Shabbat is described as an Ote, a sign between man and the Ribbono Shel Olam. As the Pasuk states in our Parsha, “La’Da’at Ki Ani Hashem Mikadishchem – To know that I am Hashem who makes you holy.” Shabbat is a day when one is supposed to reflect on the allencompassing presence of Hashem in the world. He may not manifest Himself in a physical fashion, but we must try to overcome that difficulty by engaging in metaphysical, rather than worldly, activities. When one sees Shabbat in such a fashion and understands the Peirush of the Kuzari, one becomes able to comprehend why the Cheit Ha'Egel is preceded and followed by discussions of Shabbat. In order to not succumb to the Aveirah of the Cheit HaEgel, one needs to focus on what Shabbat represents; one needs to focus on the mission of recognizing and connecting with the Ribbono Shel Olam despite there being no physical side to who He is. The reference to Shabbat was an attempt to keep Klal Yisrael from falling into an Aveirah like the Cheit Ha'Egel. The mentioning of Shabbat after the Cheit Ha'Egel conveys a similar message. Bnei Yisrael fell into a sin that had tragic consequences. The response to such a situation was to seek out the root of the sin and to try and find a means to rectify it. If the root of their sin was the desire for a physical manifestation of the Ribbono Shel Olam, then the theme of Shabbat, the day of celestial celebration, is an appropriate way to do Teshuvah. Therefore, it is appropriate to have Shabbat mentioned afterwards as well. Nowadays, we do not have the allure of associating Hashem with any physical objects forbidden by the Torah. However, it is often difficult to have a full awareness of the Ribbono Shel Olam because of people being oriented to a physical reality. Therefore, Shabbat as a day of an Ote and a day of reflection is still a treasured gift.
In this week’s Parsha, Parshat Ki Tisa, Bnei Yisrael commits one of the greatest sins in Jewish history. The Jewish people defy Hashem’s direct commandment “to not serve any other gods” and make themselves a golden calf, which they worship. Hashem is so infuriated by this transgression that He prepares to destroy the Jewish people and start a new nation. Had it not been for Moshe, the Jewish people would have probably been destroyed right then and there. !Moshe stays on Har Sinai for forty days and begs Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu to forgive the Klal Yisrael. While he is on Har Sinai, Moshe asks Hashem “to show him His glory.” Hashem then shows Moshe a vision of ‘Himself’ in the appearance of a chazzan wrapped in a Tallit, saying the “Thirteen Midot Ha’Rachamim.” Hashem then tells Moshe to advise the Jews to say this prayer in times of great need. The Thirteen Midot Ha’Rachamim became one of the most holy parts of our Tefillah.! It is usually recited during the Aseret Yimei Teshuvah and on Yom Kippur. In addition, it is also said on fast days, and some even include it at the beginning of Tachanun. There is no other Tefillah that Hashem specifically appointed like the thirteen Midot; therefore, we must make sure to always have the upmost respect and concentration when saying the Thirteen Midot Ha’Rachamim.!
Shalom on Shabbat
Mitchell Silberberg ’14
In this week’s Parsha, Parshat Ki Tisa, Moshe tells the Bnei Yisrael that the head of each Jewish household is obligated to donate half of a Shekel to the Mishkan. The Parsha also includes instructions for the Kiyur Nechoshet, the copper washbasin that the Kohanim used in the Beit Ha’Mikdash. Aharon and his sons would wash their hands and feet before they went to the Ohel Moed or when they offered Korbanot, sacrifices, on the Mizbeach. Perhaps one of the most interesting parts of this Parsha is the fact that the Mitzvah of keeping Shabbat is mentioned here: “For six days work may be done, and the seventh day should be a day of complete rest, sacred to Hashem” (Shemot 31:15). Rashi explains that this odd interjection conveys that the respite we enjoy on Shabbat should be one that is deep and tranquil rather than temporary. Rabbi Chayim Shmuelevitz expounds upon Rashi’s statement: A temporary rest means that a person has not truly changed his inner traits but just controls or represses them on Shabbat; he casually goes through Shabbat thinking that it is a brief respite. He still has a bad temper and has a habit of speaking with a foul mouth, but, because of the holiness of Shabbat, he has the self-discipline to not let these traits manifest. Yet, the ultimate goal of keeping Shabbat is for a person to uproot the negative character traits that contradict the peace brought by Shabbat. One needs to thoroughly expunge his negative character traits in order to truly rest on Shabbat. It is not enough for a person to refrain from the formal categories of work on Shabbat. Shabbat is a state of mind, namely, peace of mind. Only by mastering our own negative emotions and attributes can we have true peace of mind. On Shabbat one has many opportunities to get angry and pick fights with others. During the week, one does not have the time to nitpick over silly, paltry details. Often, the technological shutdown can make us a little bit high-strung. However, we must learn to see the beautiful growth that can occur on Shabbat. The extra free time could be wisely spent Davening or learning Torah, or we could just take a few moments to recognize the magnificence of the world Hashem has created for us. Only by mastering attitudes, approaches, and strategies for peaceful relationships with others can one elevate himself and his Shabbat experience.
From Rabbi Nachum Sauer
A person should put on his Tallit first and then his Tefillin. One must be careful to not place the Tefillin bag over his Tallit so that he does not take the Tefillin bag first, for, in such a case, he would be required to don the Tefillin before the Tallit in order to avoid being Ma’avir Al Ha’Mitzvah of the Tallit. The Mishneh Berurah writes that if one can only buy a Tallit or Tefillin, then he should buy Tefillin because a Tallit, which is a Tzitzit Gadol, is theoretically only needed when one is wearing a 4-cornered garment; yet, a person has a halachic obligation to wear Tefillin when he recites Kriat Shema and Shmoneh Esrei, for if he does not, his recitation of Kriat Shema is considered false testimony because he mentions the Mitzvah of Tefillin even though he is not fulfilling the Mitzvah. Another often-asked question that is brought down by the Mishneh Berurah is if a person does not have his Tefillin, should he Daven along with the Tzibur without his Tefillin and then borrow Tefillin afterwards to say Kriat Shema over again, or should he not Daven with the Tzibur and wait until he gets a pair of Tefillin, so he can Daven alone with his Tefillin for Kriat Shema and Shemonah Esrei. One should consult with his Posek on which opinion he should follow.
Compiled By Jesse Hyman
Census: What Do Numbers Really Mean?
Evan Teichman ’17
In the beginning of this week’s Parsha, Parshat Ki Tisa, Hashem commands Moshe to take a census of Bnei Yisrael. The census is to take place by means of Bnei Yisrael contributing half a Shekel to the Mishkan as recounted in Shemot 30:12: “Every man shall give Hashem an atonement for his soul when counting them, and there will be no plague among them when counting.” At first glance, this Pasuk is quite perplexing. What is the connection between atonement and punishment through plague with regard to the census? Rashi elucidates that counting the nation brings out the Ayin Ha’Ra’ah, the evil eye. An example of the evil associated with counting people can be seen the end of Shmuel Bet: After being victorious in battle, Yoav warns David against taking a census of the nation, yet David disregards the admonition and counts them. David would later acknowledge that he had sinned, and Bnei Yisrael were struck by a plague in response to David’s indiscretion. Counting seems like a harmless and necessary requirement in order to organize and keep tabs on a burgeoning nation. What is it about counting Bnei Yisrael that is so dangerous? Rabbeinu Bachya explains that when Bnei Yisrael is counted they are singled out as individuals, which loosens the bonds of community’s Achdut. As individuals, Klal Yisrael loses out on having the protection and the merit of the community. Additionally, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks comments that a nation is often counted in order to determine its strength in numbers, typically for military or economic purposes. Usually, a person would assume that a greater number of people would mean a stronger nation. If we believe, even for one moment, that our existence and our success depends on our numbers, we would cease to thrive because our demographic numbers are so small. It is indeed dangerous to count the Jewish nation, a nation that is comprised of a small percentage of the world population, for then we would realize the reality that, based on our numbers, we should not be Hashem’s chosen people, the light unto the nations, and a driving force on the world scene. Instead of focusing on the total population of Bnei Yisrael, Hashem commands Moshe to count Bnei Yisrael according to their contributions. The Jewish nation has contributed greatly to the world in all fields throughout time. The Parsha’s opening teaches us this powerful lesson: Numbers are not everything; action is.
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