Crushed

Categories: Ki Tisa, Parsha
Illustration of man in a yarmulke hugging a large Torah scroll with gloomy clouds and barbed wire in the background

Art by Sefira Lightstone

A WEEKLY TORAH THOUGHT FROM RABBI MORDY
This week’s Parsha is a rough one. It should have been simply a purely positive and momentous event on the Jewish calendar the giving of the Torah with its culmination in Moses’s returning to them with the entire backstory if you will. Instead, what took place was a grave error and miscalculation by the Jewish people about when Moses would be returning; the result was their creating a Golden Calf which they would worship since G-d, and Moses, had so obviously abandoned them. When Moses does return and sees this colossal error they made, he proceeds to break the tablets, the Ten Commandments, by smashing them on the ground. The Jewish people are punished for their sins and a long repentance process begins, including Moses threatening (remember last week) to remove his name from the very book he made famous.
What happened here?
 We are told that what actually took place was that the Jewish people had finally become “Chosen.” They finally achieved their destiny and were proud of their new and well-earned status. They received the Torah on Mt. Sinai and were riding high. And what happened? They made a terrible mistake.
Often the crimes, the tests, the difficulties of wealth, of success, or of accomplishment are much more challenging than those of persecution, of times of famine or overall destitution. And so that is what the Jewish people faced for the first time as a fledgling but exalted nation: the challenges of pride, of ego, of haughtiness. And so Moses needed to not just scrap that first set of the Ten Commandments, but to break them in front of everyone, to crush their spirit to an extent, which would allow them to shine in ways they never saw possible.
We live in difficult times. There are constantly various obstacles that stand in the way of what we know we need to be doing to better our world, and we must realize that when we think of ourselves as somehow above others, we need to break that down just a bit. Yes, we need to know just how much potential we have, and that we can accomplish a great deal, but simultaneously we need to not get “too big for our britches” and to roll up our sleeves and do the work we need to in the moment. So let us take the lesson of the Parsha, the beauty within the brokenness, and not let our egos, our pride, our inflated sense of self stand in the way of making our world a better and brighter place. Good Shabbos!

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