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Simcha Groffman

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Kinder Torah
For parents to share with children at the Shabbos Table

Parashas Ki Sisa

Don't Panic

"How did it happen so fast, Abba?"

"How did what happen, Chaim?"

"How did they fall down so fast?"

"Who fell down, Chaim?"

"The Bnei Yisrael, Abba. On the fifteenth of Nissan they left Mitzrayim. Seven days later, Hashem split the Yam Suf. He revealed His Glory to them. They were able to point and say, 'Zeh Keli vi'anveihu' (This is my G-d and I will glorify Him). The simplest handmaid saw more then the Novi Yechezkel. Six weeks later, on the sixth of Sivan, they were standing at Har Sinai to receive the Torah. At that point they were shown that 'Ein ode milvado' (There is no power in the universe other then The Almighty). They were called 'Dor Deah' - the Generation of Knowledge. Who knew more about Hashem than they did? And yet, just forty days later they committed the chet ha'egel (sin of the golden calf), one of the worst sins in history. It was a national disgrace. How could it happen so fast to such exalted people?"

"Excellent question, Chaim. Some of the greatest minds in history have puzzled over this question. Hashem Himself informed Moshe Rabbeinu that 'they have strayed quickly from the path which I have commanded them' (Shemos 32:8). The Gemora (Shabbos 89a) gives us the facts. The verse states, 'They people saw that Moshe had delayed in descending the mountain' (Shemos 32:1). The Hebrew word for delayed is 'boshesh.' The Gemora darshens, don't read the word as 'boshesh,' rather read it as 'bo shesh' - the sixth (hour) arrived. When Moshe Rabbeinu ascended the mountain forty days before, he told them, 'I will come in forty days at the beginning of the sixth hour.' Rashi explains that they miscalculated. They mistakenly included the day that he went up as the first of the forty days. The counting should have really started the next day. As a result, they thought that he was late. The sixth hour had arrived, and Moshe had not returned. The Satan stepped in and created turmoil. 'Where is your leader Moshe?' he asked. 'He went up,' they replied. 'The sixth hour has arrived and he has not returned. He has died.' The Satan then showed them an image of Moshe Rabbeinu's death bed. He made the world appear dark, cloudy, and tumultuous."

"Oy vey."

"You're not kidding, Chaim. Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz zt"l, describes the climate of the situation. Moshe Rabbeinu was the leader of Klal Yisrael, He was the one who had guided them over the past years, taking the responsibility, and making the decisions. This was a great comfort to them. Now the Satan led them to believe that he was gone. Who would show them the way? They were left without their leader. They were shattered, confused, and without direction. What would they do? Where would they go? Who would they turn to? They had no alternatives. The Satan had created an atmosphere of panic. In such a climate he was able to work much quicker than normal. When dealing with a rational person, the Satan (i.e. yetzer hora) must work in slow steps. Today he tells you to do a very small aveyra. Tomorrow, he tells you to do something a little bigger. In the end, he gets you to worship avodah zara. However, in a climate of panic, the yetzer hora can work very swiftly. 'They have strayed quickly from the path which I have commanded them.' In less than a day they made the egel, and the next day they offered sacrifices and rejoiced over it. That is the strength of panic. Even the 'dor deah' fell to the sin of idol worship in one day."

"That is frightening. What can be done about it, Abba?"

"The answer to that, Chaim, is emunah. We know that Hashem loves us. We know that He only wants the best for us. We know that everything that He does if for our good. Therefore, there is no reason to panic . . . ever. He may put us into a situation that is unpleasant. He may give us a job to do that takes a tremendous amount of time and effort. We may have to fight or run away. Perhaps the only alternative is to cry out to Hashem in prayer. Whatever is expected of us, we have to do it without panicking."

"That is a pretty tall order, Abba."

"It takes work, Chaim. Working on emunah. Learning mussar and thinking about how much Hashem loves you. Working on learning how to deal with unanticipated surprises in a calm manner. However, this is time and effort well invested. Someone who learns to control his urge to panic has acquired something truly valuable in life. He has a powerful tool against one of the most deadly weapons of the yetzer hora. He will not lose himself. He will not panic . . . ever."

Kinderlach . . .

The yetzer hora has many tricks to try to fluster us. Someone pushes in front of you in line. Your drink spills all over your shirt. You are tempted to cheat on the test because you forgot the answer to an important question. You get up almost too late to make the school bus. A classmate embarrasses you in front of your friend. These are all situations where it is easy to panic. Then the yetzer hara will try to make you do all kinds of aveyros. He will make you take revenge, say loshon hora, push someone, or get upset with Imma. Don't fall into the trap. Keep your cool. Remember that it is all a test from Hashem. He loves you very much and is testing you. He wants you to stay calm. He wants you to have emunah in Him in all situations. Pass the test, kinderlach. Don't panic.

Parasha Questions:

What was a "masveh" and why did Moshe wear it? (Rashi 34:33)

Which day did Moshe bring down the second luchos? (Rashi 34:29)

What did Moshe not know as he descended the mountain? (34:29)

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