18 February 2008

Slip Slidin...this way

The name of every weekly Torah portion encapsulates its meaning. The opening verses in every chapter are not merely words, they convey what the chapter is about to address. This week’s chapter’s name is Ki Siso – “when you take a count of the children of Israel...”

The plain meaning is a taking and elevation of the children of Israel. Yet the events that unfold in this chapter – the Sin of the Golden Calf, the breaking of the Tablets run counter to those exalted goals. And overall, the chapter is somewhat strange in that it opens up by telling us about the first set of Tablets being made by Hashem, the holiest set of items imaginable, then we’re confronted with the Golden Calf episode followed by the destruction of the Tablets and the giving of a second set, this time authored by Moshe Rabbeinu. How are we to tie all of this together?

A wondrous chapter.

The Rebbe tells us that this weekly portion is “wondrous” in that it contains the entire Torah and the whole world. When G-d set out to create the world, He put in place a set of strict rules: every created entity would contain within it three stages: a beginning, a middle, and a finale. This is connected to absolutely everything, including Creation.
At the outset G-d looked into the Torah - the blueprint for Ceation. The second stage involved the creation of a world that would contain undesirable elements alongside positive ones. The final stage is the effort of the Jewish People collectively to fix and refine the world to bring about the Final Redemption..

This process is reflected in this week’s chapter. Initially G-d Himself created the first set of tablets. This was followed by the Golden Calf and the breaking of the tablets. Why? So that the Jews would repent and merit the second set which was much more “valuable” as it contained the Jewish Law, the Midrash and Aggada. In other words here we have a beginning, a descent, action and redemption reflective of the three stages.

Mission Accomplished

Unfortunately the road to the final Redemption involves descent and difficult, unfortunate situations due to the sins. This is applicable to everyone, when descent occurs, one must utilize that falling down in order to garner new strengths and keep moving forward. People tend to think that descent is something completely negative and undesirable, something that should not, ideally, occur and once it has occurred, it must be used for elevating oneself.

The Rebbe tells us something completely different: all that had been planned out by G-d to begin with. G-d had decided that this is how events and circumstances should unfold for the sake of the Ultimate Redemption. The Rebbe emphasizes that those negative situations are in reality part of the process with a clear goal leading to the ultimate good.
Tfoo wit, for a Jew, a falling down is only “permitted’ to take place for the sake of a greater ascent and thus it is a part of that subsequent elevation!

A happy ending

Every Jew possesses certain powers that enable him to fulfill his mission completely, from the moment he wakes up to the time he goes to bed at night. Where do those powers come from? From the Moses of our generation who will usher in the Final Redemption.

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