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Vol. 23 No. 21
Parshas Ki Sissa
"And he (Moshe) said 'Show me your glory!' "(32:18).
'Why me?' is a question that many people ask when struck by a misfortune. The question of course, is out of place, as it suggests that they are so perfect that their suffering is undeserved.
The following story demonstrates admirably just how baseless - sometimes even funny (tragically funny) the above question really is.
A man once appeared before the Heavenly Tribunal for judgement. The decision, based upon a slap that he had once given a fellow-Jew, putting him to shame in public, was that he must go to Gehinom. He pleaded with the Court for clemency, but this was refused. And it was only when he suggested that they allow him to return to earth, but minus a hand, that they relented.
Many years passed, and the young man suffered terribly from his physical handicap. As a child, he had suffered at home and in school, and then, as he grew up, he faced insurmountable barriers regarding Parnasah and shiduchim. His life seemed one long sting of frustrations. Needless to say, he was totally unaware of why he had no hand or upon whose suggestion it was that he did not have one.
So one day, after Davening, he waited until the Shul was empty. Then he went to the Aron ha'Kodesh, opened it and cried out with a voice full of emotion "Oh G-d, why did you do this to me?'
The Seifer Kol Agados Yisrael cites the following scenario that took place during the Matan Torah on Har Sinai, in response to Moshe's request that G-d reveal to him His method of judgement, why sometimes Tzadikim suffer whilst Resha'im have it good. G-d replied that, although no human being could be shown the full picture, He was willing to give him a short demonstration, and the following scene unfolded itself before Moshe's eyes
It was a hot summer's day, and a soldier came riding into view. He dismounted beside a stream that flowed across the valley, and he and his horse drank from its sparkling water. Having drunk his fill, he swung into the saddle and rode off. He failed to notice, however, that as he bent down to drink, a bundle of money fell from his pocket on to the ground next to the stream.
A few moments later, a little shepherd-boy appeared upon the scene. He too, led his sheep to the brook to drink. As he turned to leave, he spotted the bundle of money that the soldier had lost. When he saw the contents of the bag, he was thrilled. No longer would he need to work for the cruel master who beat him regularly, he thought to himself. He would now be able to return home to his widowed mother. With the money he had found, they would now be able to purchase a house and a field and live together comfortably.
The third person to arrive at the brook was an old man, tired and thirsty from his travels and from the heat of the day. He sat beside the stream, and took from his satchel some dry bread, which he dipped in the brook and ate. Then he lay down beside the stream and fell asleep.
Meanwhile, the soldier, having discovered his loss, rode back to the stream. Spotting the old man, he shook him awake and demanded his bag of money. Angered by the old man's insistence that he did not have it, he drew his sword, and killed him. Assuming that the bag must be in the slain man's satchel, he emptied it out but of course, he did not find it.
With that the scene faded, leaving Moshe more frustrated than before. 'Hashem Elokim!' he exclaimed, 'You said You would show me your system of justice, but what did I see? An old innocent man murdered in cold blood by a soldier who lost a fortune, and a young boy becoming enriched in a moment by a treasure that belonged to somebody else!'
'Wait', G-d replied. 'What you just saw was the second half of the story; now see the first half!' And this is what Moshe saw.
It was a hot day and the streets of the town were deserted. Deserted that is, except for a lame farmer who was walking down the street holding a bag of money in one hand, and a little boy's hand in the other
deserted, except for an old man who unbeknown to the farmer, lurked in the shadows, cudgel in hand, his gaze fixed on the bag that the latter was holding
deserted except for a soldier who leaned lazily against a wall, taking in the scene that was unfolding before his eyes.
As the farmer and his son came level with the old man, he sprang out and pounced upon him. Beating him with his cudgel, he snatched the bag from the man's hand, and, leaving the dying man, he turned to flee, clutching his ill-gotten spoil. Suddenly, he noticed the soldier and realized that he had seen everything. Frightened and shocked that someone had witnessed the murder, he dropped the bag and fled. And there the scene faded.
Now Moshe understood. He understood that the old murderer had met his just end, killed by the very soldier who should have gone to protect the farmer in the first place. He understood that the soldier had lost a treasure that did not belong to him. And he understood that the treasure that the shepherd-boy found was the money that he had inherited from his father, and that it was his by right.
Moshe Rabeinu was privileged to witness G-d's Divine Providence - he was shown all the facts of the case after they had taken place. And this is what the Pasuk means when it says in the current Parshah "
and you will see My back" (with reference to the back of Hashem's Tefilin) - a distinct hint of hindsight; foresight is something to which no human being is privy.
In the above Medrash, Moshe Rabeinu became privy to a unique demonstration which displayed one area of Hashgachah P'ratis. He learned the futility of questioning G-d's Midas ha'Mishpat, inasmuch as any question that one asks on Divine Justice is based on a lack of knowledge of the facts, which in turn, is the result of man's limited vision. If we would know all the facts, all questions would fall away.
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Table of Events
from Matan Torah till the end of the Second Year
6 Matan Torah
The rest of Parshas Yisro & Mishpatim, which Moshe transcribes into the Torah
Moshe builds a Mizbe'ach and twelve Matzeivos (Mizb'chos comprising one stone). He sends the young firstborn to offer Korbanos and reads out the Seifer-Torah that he has written to date. Yisrael proclaim 'Na'aseh ve'NIshma!'
He ascends Har Sinai to receive the Torah.
16 The Golden Calf
17 Moshe descends Har Sinai with the Two Luchos,
which he smashes.
18 He grinds it up, burns it and punishes the offenders.
19 Moshe ascends Har Sinai to plead for forgiveness.
29/30 He descends the Mountain for the second time.
Moshe manufactures the second Luchos (from a sapphire mine that he found in his tent)
he ascends Har Sinai to learn the Torah again and for G-d to fill in the second Luchos.
10 Moshe descends with the second set of Luchos
G-d announces 'I have forgiven, like your words'.
11 Yisrael begin donating for the Mishkan
13 They are told to stop donating
25 The Mishkan is completed, but its erection is postponed until Nisan,
the month in which Yitzchak Avinu is born.
23 Moshe sets up the Mishkan (twice daily) and the seven days of
The 8th day of inauguration takes ten crowns (ten firsts)
It remains standing permanently
Aharon and his sons begin serving
Nadav & Avihu die
1 - 12 The Inauguration of the princes.
13 The Parshah of Pesach Sheini
Moshe is commanded to count Yisrael
14 Those who were tamei meis bring the Pesach Sheini
20 Yisrael leave Har Sinai and travel to Kivros ha'Ta'avah
19 They travel to Chatzeiros
Miriam and Aharon speak Lashon ha'Ra about
Miriam is stricken with Tzara'as for seven days.
25 Yisrael arrive in Midbar Paran
They send the spies
8/9 The spies return
They speak evil about Eretz Yisrael
that Yisrael will remain in the desert for forty years and not enter
17 The ten evil Spies die
The episode of Korach takes place around this time.
They Arrive in Kodesh where they will remain for nineteen years.
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