Posts Tagged ‘Ki Tisa’

8
Mar

Tolstoy and the Golden Calf Part Three

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

“Before Yeravam ben Nevat, the people of Israel nursed from a single calf. Thereafter, they nursed from three; the one of the Golden Calf and the two of Yeravam (Sanhedrin 102a).”

How could the person about whom the Talmud says, “The Torah knowledge of Yeravam was flawless (Sanhedrin 102a),” and that “the entire Torah was an open field to him, and he discovered new insights that no ear had ever heard (ibid.),” introduce such a idol worship to the people?

“He seated a wicked man beside a righteous man and asked them, ‘ Will you sign to everything I do?’

‘ Yes,’ they replied.

‘ I would like to be king over you,’ he said.

‘ Very well,’ they replied.

‘ Will you fulfill all that I command you?’

‘ Yes,’ they replied.

‘ Even if it be to worship idols?’

‘ Heaven forbid,’ said the righteous people.

The wicked men said to the righteous men, ‘ Do you think a man like Yeravam would worship idols? He merely wishes to test you and see if you will obey him.’

Even Achiah haShiloni erred and signed (Sanhedrin 101b).” There is danger in allowing a single person to hold such unlimited power. This was Yeravam’s argument.

This was his argument with King Solomon.

This was his fear of Jerusalem: “If this people goes up to offer sacrifices (I Kings 12:27).” Yeravam said, “It is a tradition that no one may sit in the inner courtyard of the Temple except for the kings of the House of Judah. When they see Rechavam sitting while I stand, they will think, ‘ This one is the true king; that one, the slave.’ If I too sit, I will be in rebellion against the kingdom. Then they will slay me and follow Rechavam.”

The people insist on breaking away from the House of Judah and yet they acknowledge that only a descendant of that House may sit in the inner courtyard of the Temple. The people who are insisting on breaking away into a separate kingdom, will perceive anyone else who sits in that place as rebelling against the kingdom! Even the people who are rejecting the King will still honor him! They do not know what they really want. There is nothing more dangerous than having a single human being with unlimited power “Tolstoy and the Golden Calf-Part Two”) leading people who are unsure of what they want; “Tolstoy and the Golden Calf”. Such a person is always in danger of becoming a Golden Calf himself.

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Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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7
Mar

Tolstoy and the Golden Calf Part Two

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

I remember one day in the early spring when I was alone in the forest listening to the sounds of the woods. I listened and thought about the one thing that had constantly occupied me for the last three years. Again I was searching for God.

“Very well,” I said to myself. “So there is no God like the one I have imagined; the only reality is my life. There is no such God. And nothing, no miracle of any kind, can prove there is, because miracles exist only in my irrational imagination.”

“But where does my notion of God, of the one whom I seek, come from?” I asked myself. And again with this thought there arose in me joyous waves of life. Everything around me came to life, full of meaning.

But my joy did not last long. My mind continued its work. “The concept of God,” I told myself, “is not God. A concept is something that occurs within me; the concept of God is something I can conjure up inside myself at will. This is not what I seek. I am seeking that without which there could be no life. Once again everything within me and around me began to die; again I felt the long being to kill myself. (Leo Tolstoy, Confession)

We posited in “Tolstoy and the Golden Calf,” that the sin of the people was their inability to commit to a single choice. It was the sin of ambivalence. I read the above words of Tolstoy and do not sense ambivalence as much as I hear the voice of someone committed to a choice; the choice to have a meaningful relationship with God. Even the person who is completely committed to such a relationship will struggle with his human limitations. He will wonder how much of his conception of God is only a “concept.” But, as Tolstoy wrote, “a concept is something that occurs within me; the concept of God is something I can conjure up inside myself at will.”

I cannot read the words, “This is not what I seek. I am seeking that without which there could be no life,” without respect for his quest.

The people were so disturbed by just a delay of a few hours of Moses returning to them that they began to look inward and wonder how real was their a relationship with God. “How can I feel so destabilized by an extra few hours of Moses being absent if I choose to believe in the God I have experienced since the Exodus?” It was not ambivalence that lay at the core of their sin, not even doubt, but fear of their inability to maintain the relationship they had with God without Moses being constantly present.

Oh yes, they appreciated Moses. Yes! They wanted Moses to be present. They did not want a relationship with God that was so dependent on a single human being.

To be continued…

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Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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7
Mar

Tolstoy and the Golden Calf

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

This is what happened to me: in the course of a whole year, when almost every minute I was asking myself whether I should end it all with a rope or a bullet, my heart was tormented with an agonizing feeling. This feeling I can only describe as a search for God.

It was a feeling of dread, of loneliness, of the forlornness in the midst of all that was alien to me, and it was a feeling of hope for someone’s help.

“He sees and knows of my search, my despair, my struggle,” I would say to myself. “He exists.” And as soon as I acknowledged this for an instant, life immediately rose up within me, and I could sense the possibility and even the joy of being.

And again, isolated from me and from the world, God would melt away before my eyes like a piece of ice; again nothing remained, again the source of life withered away. I was overcome with despair and felt that there was nothing for me to do but kill myself. (Leo Tolstoy, Confession)

I hear echoes of Tolstoy in the story of the Golden Calf. I hear the voice of the people wondering whether they are alone, without Moses, without God. They are frightened.

The fact that just a short “delay” of the return of their leader can cause such a deep sense of dread, indicates that these are people who, despite their great spiritual achievements, have been living on the edge. They have witnessed what no one else in history has ever seen. They have experienced the most profound miracles. Yet, there is something deep inside of them that makes it almost impossible for them to feel secure.

The same people who had been willing to wait hours just to have a private meeting with Moses, couldn’t wait just a few more hours to see whether Moses would return.

The same people who willingly chose distance from Moses when they accepted a system of judges rather than a direct relationship with Moses, could not bear just a few more hours of waiting for Moses. They needed him. They were desperate for an immediate response.

They did get their immediate response:. The Golden Calf, but then, Aaron declared the following day a holiday. They immediately accepted Aaron’s decision to hold off their celebration till the morrow. The same people who could not wait just a few hours, where now willing to wait overnight. The same people who were demanding an immediate response were now willing to delay their celebrations till the next day. Part of them desires an immediate response. Part of them is willing to delay. Part of them is desperate for a direct relationship with Moses. Part of them wants anything but a direct relationship with Moses.

In other words, these are people who do not know what it is they truly desire. They too, as did Tolstoy, experienced dread and loneliness, and hoped for someone’s help. But, they were aware of their ambivalence, and were convinced that as long as they were not committed to a single choice, they were undeserving of God’s continued involvement in their lives.

The Golden Calf was a symbol of their not being committed to a choice.

To be continued…

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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18
Feb

Reading The Text: Haftarah Ki Tisa Part Ten

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Haftarah

“They took the bull that he gave them and prepared it, and called out in the name of the Baal all from the morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was neither sound nor response, and they danced by the altar that he made.”

Why does the verse say that the prophets of Baal took the bull that he, Elijah, gave them? Elijah had told them to bring the bulls. Why does it say that they danced by the altar that he, Elijah, made, I thought they built the altar!

The Midrash describes all sorts of great miracles happening at this moment. However on a textual level we can understand that at this point it was clear that Elijah was absolutely in charge. It was he who was managing each step of this confrontation. This is why the verse presents the story as if Elijah gave the bull to the prophets of Baal. This is why the verse allows us to believe that Elijah made the altar.

“And they danced by the altar,” the Hebrew is ‘Vayifasichu,’ which is the same Hebrew word that Elijah used when he sent his message out to the people, “how long will you dance, ‘Posichim,’ between two opinions?” This is the same word as the holiday of Pesach when God “danced” over the homes of the Jews.

Perhaps Elijah wanted these prophets of Baal to be dancing around their altar so that all would remember the message he had sent out with the King’s summons for the all the people to gather at Carmel. He wanted the prophets of Baal to dance so that the people would remember his question of “How long will you dance?”

He wanted to use the Hebrew word Pesach for the dancing so that the Jews would reconnect to that opening moment in the relationship between God and Israel when God lovingly danced over the homes of the Jews to protect them. God showed His individual attention to every single Jew, something they would never experience from Baal.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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18
Feb

Reading The Text: Haftarah Ki Tisa Part Nine

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Haftarah

“Elijah said to the people, “I have remained a prophet of God by myself, but the prophets of the Baal or 450 men. Let them give us two bulls; let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it, and put it on the wood, but not apply fire; and I will prepare one bull and place it on the wood, and I will not apply fire.”

Elijah’s speaks of the prophets of Baal, who were standing right there, in the third person; let them give to us,” as if to say they, the prophets of Baal, are not us.

“Let them give us two bulls,” I thought there was a drought! Was not Ahab worried that all the animals would die? From where did the prophets of Baal get the two bulls?

The prophets were well fed at the table of Jezebel. They were eating like kings while the masses were starving. Elijah was trying to drive a wedge between the prophets of Baal and the people.

In a later verse Elijah says to the prophets of the Baal,  “Take yourselves one bull and prepare it first.” Elijah speaks to the prophets of Baal as if they did not hear what he had said to the people about the whole contest. Elijah had already made it clear what would happen. Why is he speaking to these prophets as if they did not hear? Again he is trying to drive a wedge between these prophets and the people.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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18
Feb

Reading The Text: Haftarah Ki Tisa Part Eight

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Haftarah

“Elijah said to the people, “I have remained a prophet of God by myself, but the profits of the Baal or 450 men.” We asked why Elijah claims to be the only prophet remaining to God. We also asked why Elijah seems to ignore the prophets of the Asheirah he had insisted be invited.

Elijah did not invite the prophets of the Asheirah a because he wanted to confront them. He invited the extra prophets because he wanted to call notice to the fact that all these prophets ate at the table of the Queen. They were supported by Jezebel. They were not prophets devoted to one god or another, they were simply lackeys of the Queen. This then, is what he means when he says, “I have remained a prophet of God by myself,” as if to say I am a prophet of the God, actually his words are “to God”; he devotes himself to God. The prophets of the Baal are no different from the profits of the Asheirah, they simply work at the Queens whim.

No wonder Jezebel did not attend; Elijah wanted to make her the subject of the confrontation.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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18
Feb

Haftarah: Ki Tisa Part Seven: Can I Really Make A Difference: Purim

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Haftarah

“Elijah approached all the people and said, “How long will you dance between two opinions? If God is the Lord, follow Him! And if the Baal, follow it!” Why did Elijah focus only on Baal? After all he had insisted that the prophets of the Asheirah be invited as well.

Elijah continues “I have remained a prophet of God by myself but the prophets of the Baal are 450 men.” How could Elijah say that he was the only prophet of God left? What about Obadiah? He had hidden 100 prophets of God. Was Elijah pretending to be the sole prophet of God in order to protect Obadia’s secret? That seems a little dangerous to me, after all what will happen after Elijah’s death? If Elijah claimed that there were no other prophets of God left, would anyone trust someone who claimed claimed to follow Elijah?

Perhaps Elijah was publicly admitting that he was scared of Jezebel. Elijah knew that his efforts at Carmel would be successful. He did not know how long this success would last. He wondered whether it would ultimately accomplish anything. “How much of the difference can I really make?” This is his story of eating food that nourished him for forty days; a small thing can make a big difference.

He understood that if the people reached great heights at Carmel but soon lost the moment and went back to their old ways the he would be considered a failure.

This leads us back to Jezebel: she does not attend. Does she know that she will lose? We have to wonder why she would allow her husband, her “little boy” to participate? Did she not think it would spell disaster for all the prophets who ate at her table?

It seems that Jezebel knew full well that Elijah would be successful at Carmel. She also knew that no matter what Elijah achieved it would ultimately disappear, Elijah would be a failure.

This is Jezebel’s constant argument against God: sure God takes the Jews to great heights. Do those heights ever last? Did Sinai last? What about the Golden Calf, so soon after Sinai? Sinai  was a failure as far as Jezebel was concerned.

Jezebel would go back all through the history of the Children of Israel and would readily acknowledge all the great moments but she would insist that all those great moments were failures because they did not last.

When people ask, “Do my efforts really make a difference?” They are responding to a Jezebel type argument. This was Mordechai and Esther’s response at Purim: how do we know that the book of Esther was written with Divine Inspiration?

We know that it was written with Divine Inspiration because the book insists that the lessons of pouring would last forever and never be lost. Mordechai and Esther taught the Jews that when they can achieve something on their own with out great miracles, but all on their own, those are the things that truly make a difference. Those are the things that last. The Divine Inspiration what was enabled Mordecai and Esther to teach Israel such a lasting lesson!

This is why the Talmud teaches that Esther was able to accomplish a covenant with Torah that even Moses was unable to accomplish at Sinai:. The Jezebel argument against Sinai leaves its mark. It is the Esthers of the world who point out how we can make a difference that lasts forever.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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18
Feb

Reading The Text: Haftarah Ki Tisa Part Six

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Haftarah

“Ahab sent among all the children of Israel and he gathered the prophets to Mount Carmel.” Why is it that Ahab “sent among the children of Israel,” but he “gathered the prophets to Mount Carmel?” It seems that he only had to send a message to the children of Israel but he had to forcibly gather the prophets to the great confrontation. It seems that the prophets of the idols did not want to attend, and Ahab had to forcibly gather them. I suspect that they who “ate as Jezebel’s table,” were not permitted by the queen to attend. There was a split between Ahab and his queen. I suspect, intended by Elijah.However, the children of Israel simply responded to his message to gather.

How long was this part of the story? How long was there between the time that Ahab sent this message out to the children of Israel and the actual confrontation on Mount Carmel? If it was just a few days then how many of the Children of Israel could have gathered? If Ahab wanted all the people from all over his kingdom to attend this great ceremony or confrontation on Carmel he would’ve had to wait a few weeks. Did anything happen during these few weeks?

The story continues “Elijah approached all the people and said, “How long will you dance between two opinions? If God is the Lord, follow him! And if the Baal, follow it!”  How did Elijah address the entire nation? There was no public address system.

It seems to me that Elijah’s message went out to the people the minute Ahab sent a message to them to gather on Carmel: when people received the King’s message “Coming to Carmel for a confrontation with Elijah!” People wanted to know why. They wanted to know what would happen. It is not that Elijah made a public address to the people with his challenge of “THow long,” but that his message went out to the people to gather with Ahab’s. This does not mean that the King included Elijah’s question in the King’s message, but the minute the people received Ahab’s summons they wanted to know what was going to happen, what was the purpose. I believe that Elijah spread his message by answering people as they began to approach; I have a basic question for all the people, “How long will you dance between two opinions?” Elijah’s message spread.

“The people did not answer in a word.” The peoples did not answer with words they answered Elijah by gathering. They did answer by responding to Ahab’s summons to come to Carmel.

We asked earlier whether the people were being primed as we demonstrated Ahab was: The answer is Yes! The time between the summons and the actual confrontation was Elijah’s way of preparing the people for all that was about to happen.

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Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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18
Feb

Reading The Text: Haftarah Ki Tisa Part Five

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Haftarah

“Obadiah went toward Ahab and told him, so Ahab went toward Elijah.” It doesn’t say that Obadiah went to Ahab, but rather that he went toward Ahab. This implies that all Obadiah did was turn in the direction of Ahab but Ahab was there. It was as if ,when the verse earlier described Ahab is going alone, Ahab did not go very far from Obadiah. This supports our original suggestion that the reason Ahab went on this quest, and took Obadiah with him, was because he was convinced that something great would appear in the merit of Obadiah. He never went too far. Obadiah only had to turn around and go toward Ahab, and the King was there.

When “When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is that you, you uglifier of Israel?” It is clear that Ahab does not like Elijah. He blames Elijah for all of Israel’s suffering. The verses continue: “H said to him, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house, when you forsook the Commandments of God and follow the Baal idols! And now, send forth to gather all of Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and also the 450 prophets of the Baal and the 400 prophets of the Asheirah, who eat at Jezebel’s table. Ahab sent among all the children of Israel and he gathered the prophets to Mount Carmel.”

Ahab doesn’t argue with Elijah. The one who accused Elijah of making the people of Israel ugly obeys Elijah immediately. It is clear that Ahab was convinced that something great would happen this day. From the moment he had that mental message to go out and look and to take Obadiah with him, he knew to not go too far from his servant, he knew that this indeed would be a great day. He had no need to argue with Elijah. The truth would be proven.

Elijah mentions that 450 prophets of the Baal in 400 prophets of the Asheirah who eat at Jezebel’s table. I thought there was a drought! I thought there was a famine! It seems that Ahab’s house had plenty of food.

As we said before, Obadiah had food to feed and sustain the prophets of God he was hiding. No wonder, when Ahab went to look for food, he did not go to look for food for himself but for his animals so that he would ‘not be cut off without animals’. This changes the entire scene. We are not speaking of the King himself suffering thirst and starvation. The King had plenty.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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17
Feb

Reading The Text: Haftarah Ki Tisa Part Five

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

“Obadiah went toward Ahab and told him, so Ahab went toward Elijah.” It doesn’t say that Obadiah went to Ahab, but rather that he went toward Ahab. This implies that all Obadiah did was turn in the direction of Ahab but Ahab was there. It was as if ,when the verse earlier described Ahab is going alone, Ahab did not go very far from Obadiah. This supports our original suggestion that the reason Ahab went on this quest, and took Obadiah with him, was because he was convinced that something great would appear in the merit of Obadiah. He never went too far. Obadiah only had to turn around and go toward Ahab, and the King was there.

When “When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is that you, you uglifier of Israel?” It is clear that Ahab does not like Elijah. He blames Elijah for all of Israel’s suffering. The verses continue: “H said to him, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house, when you forsook the Commandments of God and follow the Baal idols! And now, send forth to gather all of Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and also the 450 prophets of the Baal and the 400 prophets of the Asheirah, who eat at Jezebel’s table. Ahab sent among all the children of Israel and he gathered the prophets to Mount Carmel.”

Ahab doesn’t argue with Elijah. The one who accused Elijah of making the people of Israel ugly obeys Elijah immediately. It is clear that Ahab was convinced that something great would happen this day. From the moment he had that mental message to go out and look and to take Obadiah with him, he knew to not go too far from his servant, he knew that this indeed would be a great day. He had no need to argue with Elijah. The truth would be proven.

Elijah mentions that 450 prophets of the Baal in 400 prophets of the Asheirah who eat at Jezebel’s table. I thought there was a drought! I thought there was a famine! It seems that Ahab’s house had plenty of food.

As we said before, Obadiah had food to feed and sustain the prophets of God he was hiding. No wonder, when Ahab went to look for food, he did not go to look for food for himself but for his animals so that he would ‘not be cut off without animals’. This changes the entire scene. We are not speaking of the King himself suffering thirst and starvation. The King had plenty.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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