Parshat Ki Tisa

The culmination before Parshat Ki Tisa was Hashem showing Bnei Yisrael a series of marvelous and extravagant miracles. It first started with the ten plagues, then continues with the hardening of pharaoh’s heart which led into Yetziat Mitzraim. After that came the splitting of the Yam Suf, and finally Har Sinai ,the biggest G-dly revelation known to man, and so much more. Time after time, Hashem constantly does miracles for Bnei Yisrael showing how much he loves them. But what do they give him in return? They give him complaint after complaint. In this week’s parsha, we find that they hit Hashem with a yahareig v’al ya’avor , Chet Haigel. This is one of the most famous examples of avodah zarah in the Torah, where clearly Klal Yisrael saw the yad Hashem in everything; they even heard Him speak at Har Sinai! They just kept spitting in Hashem’s face, kivyachol. The question is what is the significance of Bnei Yisrael’s behavioral pattern? How can they go from the highest highs to the lowest lows?

This brings us into a mashal spanning through Rabbi Akiva Tatz’s teachings all the way to the stories and movies we know today. There is a huge seemingly similar habitual pattern that occurs throughout life. Movies or stories often start with a picture perfect scene: someone has everything he needs, a very peaceful and hopeful start. The puzzle is whole, so to speak. The next part of the cycle is fragmented, something happens to disturb the peace, which brings chaos and confusion. He builds up enough courage, uses the clarity he had before to face the challenge head on. Sometimes he fails, maybe even several times. But the final step of the pattern is that the protagonist restores peace and the atmosphere is usually one of rebirth and rejuvenation of success in the effort put into the goal.

Rabbi Akiva Tatz applies this habitual pattern of life in his book “Living Inspired”, by introducing a three step process of going through life quite literally by being inspired. A person might have heard an incredible speaker who might have brought an idea that touched him, or it may have been by learning something in class that just “clicked”. Hashem lets the person sit with this inspiration for a seemingly short amount of time. Having been given the first step, it is now up to person to act upon this moment of clarity. This leads into the next step, where Hashem introduces the person with a test in which he loses his moment of clarity and inspiration. Once this happens, he must stick with the commitment he made when he had clarity through the hard time. The person is often faced with many decisions of how to recreate the peace and inspiration he once felt before. Then comes the last step, piecing the puzzle back together. After much sweat and toil, the person, using his inspiration, goes through his tests coming out stronger than ever in his avodas Hashem.

How does this apply to the specific behavior patterns of Klal Yisrael? First of all, Hashem shows the miracles He can do, like taking us out of Egypt. This signified freedom and clarity for Klal Yisrael. Then Hashem gave them the challenge of Avodah Zara, where most of Klal Yisrael sinned and while it still may have been hard, others held back and didn’t. This part signified trials and tribulations where they had to use their clarity from the past and act on it during this time. Some didn’t use their inspiration and lost out on the opportunity to get closer to Hashem. Others like the women and shevet Levi did. The ones that did bring the puzzle back together we reward, for they brought rejoice and rejuvenation back to Klal Yisrael and futher more to their avodas Hashem. The ones that didn’t lost out on an opportunity, and the consequence they were faced with was death.

How does this all apply to us now? Death seems quite a harsh consequence, doesn’t it? What does Hashem really want? In seminary, we are gaining inspiration learning Torah, breathing Torah, and living Torah. This year seems full of clarity and tranquility. This is our time to take advantage of step one. Take advantage of the inspiration by attaching it to something, working on our middos, not speaking lashon hara as much etc. This “bubble” is the gift from Hashem. The next gift Hashem gives us is the ability to put our ideas into action. While in this act we may be confused, this is where we decide whether or not to be motivated, holding on to Hashem to overcome what is needed to be conquered. Once it becomes conquered area in terms of effort, we restore the puzzle and achieve a greater level in our relationship with Hashem.

Student Studying in Tomer Devorah