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Publisher’s Foreword

19th Day of Kislev, 5744
Yud-Tes Kislev

Prayers for Our Times

Shabbos Parshas Vayeishev
20th Day of Kislev, 5744

Shabbos Parshas Mikeitz
27th Day of Kislev, 5744

“Pride of Yaakov”

Tzivos Hashem
Eve of 7th of Chanukah, 5744

10th Day of Teves, 5744

Shabbos Parshas Va’eira
25th Day of Teves, 5744

Shabbos Parshas Bo
3rd Day of Shevat, 5744

The Printing of Tanya

Shabbos Parshas Beshallach
10th Day of Shevat, 5744

Yechidus
Eve of 13th of Shevat, 5744

Yechidus to Chassanim and Kallos
Eve of the 13th of Shevat, 5744

Yechidus to Bar Mitzvah Boys & Their Parents
Eve of 13th of Shevat, 5744

15th Day of Shevat, 5744
Rosh Hashanah for Trees

Shabbos Parshas Yisro
17th Day of Shevat, 5744

Shabbos Parshas Mishpotim
24th Day of Shevat, 5744

Shabbos Parshas Terumah
2nd Day of Rosh Chodesh Adar I, 5744

Tanya on Radio
Russian Jewry

Shabbos Parshas Ki Sissa
Shushan Purim Koton
15th Day of Adar I, 5744

Llkkuttei Torah
Printing of Tanya
Mashke

Shabbos Parshas Pikudei
Parshas Shekalim
29th Day of Adar I, 5744

Hatzolah
Pegishah
Tanya
Purim

Tzivos Hashem
10th Day of Adar II, 5744

Ta’anis Esther
14th Day of Adar II, 5744

Sichos In English
Excerpts of Sichos delivered by The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson
Vol. 19 — Kislev-Adar II, 5744


Shabbos Parshas Ki Sissa
Shushan Purim Koton
15th Day of Adar I, 5744


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1. This Shabbos coincides with Shushan Purim Koton. [When there are two months of Adar — in a leap year — Purim, the 14th of Adar, is celebrated in the second month. The 14th of Adar Rishon (the first Adar) is termed “Purim Koton” — the “Small Purim.” Similarly, the 15th of the first Adar is called “Shushan Purim Koton” — the “Small Shushan Purim.”] Since Shushan Purim Koton immediately follows Purim Koton, it follows that this Shabbos is associated also with Purim Koton. Further, Purim Koton and Shushan Purim Koton this year are on erev Shabbos and Shabbos respectively; and erev Shabbos and Shabbos are connected, for, as our Sages say, “He who toils on erev Shabbos will eat on Shabbos.” This year, moreover, emphasizes the distinction enjoyed by Shushan Purim Koton over Purim Koton, for erev Shabbos is the preparation to Shabbos, implying that Shabbos is the main event, which in our case is Shushan Purim Koton. Also, the events of the preceding week, including those of erev Shabbos, are elevated on Shabbos to the highest levels.

There are several aspects to Shushan Purim Koton this year:

    1) The idea of Shushan Purim Koton itself, which is joy.

    2) The fact that it falls on Shabbos, which is also a joyous day.

    3) The parshah read on this Shabbos — Sissa.

    4) The day of the month on which Shushan Purim (Koton) falls (which is the same every year) — the fifteenth, when the moon is full.

    5) The fact that it is in Adar Rishon, which indicates that this year is a leap year, the idea of which is to reconcile the difference between the solar and lunar years.

Since all these aspects coincide on this Shabbos, there must be a common theme between them. That theme is alluded to in the parshah, Sissa.

“Sissa” means elevation — “When you shall raise (Sissa) the head of the children of Israel.” That is, even the “head” of the Jewish people, the highest level, must be raised. And the elevation of the head of the Jewish people is the common theme of the above aspects in this Shabbos. Taking them in order:

    1) The miracle of Purim (and Shushan Purim) is associated with the elevation of the Jews, as written in the Megillah (9:3): “All the rulers of the provinces, and the satraps ... raised up (“menassim”) the Jews.”

    2) Shabbos is also associated with the elevation of Jews, for it was given to Jews because G-d chose them from all other nations, as written, “You, L-rd our G-d, did not give it [the Shabbos] to the nations of the world ... for You have given it in love to Your people Israel, to the descendants of Yaakov whom You have chosen.” Choice of Jews shows they are an elevated people.

    3) Jews have a lunar calendar and are compared to the moon. The fullness of the moon on Shushan Purim thus indicates the fullness of the Jewish people — again, the idea of their elevation.

    4) A leap year is associated with the elevated status of Jews, for their ability to reconcile the difference between the solar and lunar years shows they are a lofty people. The sun and moon are two very different bodies, especially after the moon was diminished and became the “small luminary” while the sun is the “large luminary.” Yet, because Jews are an elevated people, they can reconcile the difference between them.

Further, the very fact that it is Jews who sanctify the months and decide which year should be a leap year indicates their greatness. Our Sages note that the decision of Jews in these matters is final — “even when you err accidentally, even when you err intentionally.” The decision by Jews is binding even on heaven, as our Sages relate: “The ministering angels said before G-d. When are You going to fix the festivals? He replied, I and you will confirm what Israel decide when they make the year a leap year.”

We thus see that all the various aspects of this Shabbos emphasize the theme of the weekly parshah — “When you will raise up the head of the children of Israel.”

“Deed is paramount,” and it therefore behooves us to derive a lesson applicable to actual deed from all of the above. The various aspects of Shushan Purim Koton this year are different one from another, and indeed, are sometimes opposites. A leap year, for example, is necessary because the moon was diminished after it complained at creation that it was impossible for it and the sun to rule together as two equal bodies. A leap year is thus associated with a low state. The fullness of the moon, in contrast, indicates a state of perfection, wholeness. These two examples encompasses all the different levels in a person’s service to G-d, ranging from the start of service in a small, diminished fashion, to the completion and fullness of service.

This Shabbos teaches that all the different levels of service, from the lowest to the highest, must be in the manner of elevation (“Sissa”). This means that not only should a Jew be aware at the beginning of his service that he should rise higher, but also the beginning of service itself should be in an elevated manner. For since the beginning is the basis and root of all subsequent service, its performance in an elevated matter ensures that the following service is automatically in a similar fashion.

This concept is emphasized in the ma’amer (Chassidic discourse) “V’Kibel HaYehudim” said by the previous Rebbe on Purim Koton, 5687. The previous Rebbe explains that the above two concepts are stressed in the verse, “From the mouths of babes and sucklings You have founded strength.” On the one hand, the Torah study of “babes and sucklings” is only the beginning of service; on the other hand, it is the foundation of Torah and Judaism of all Jews (“You have founded strength” and “there is no strength except Torah”).

It is for this reason that Mordechai jeopardized his life to study Torah with Jewish children specifically; for he knew that their Torah study is the foundation of the existence of all Jewry, including himself, Mordechai, the Moshe Rabbeinu of his generation.

This parallels the above discussed concept that every level of service, even the start, should be done on an elevated manner. Because the beginning of service, when one is in a state comparable to “babes and sucklings,” is the foundation of the entire service, it must be done in the proper manner.

To clarify further: A person in his lifetime goes through all the different levels of service, starting from the moment he is born (“babes and sucklings”) to the end and completion of his service, when he is 120 years old. In similar fashion, a person also goes through all the different steps in service every day: When he awakens, he is in a state similar to just being born (“babes and sucklings”), for since he has not yet started the day’s service, he does not yet possess the illumination that derives from that service. Indeed, rules the Shulchan Aruch, before prayer a person’s soul, which is returned to him every morning after sleep, has not yet totally permeated his whole body.

During the day a person proceeds from level to level in his service, until he reaches perfection at the end of the day. This Shabbos teaches that every step and aspect of service, including the beginning, must be done in an uplifted manner.

This lesson applies to all aspects of service. We shall here concentrate on showing how it applies to one of the aspects associated with today — Purim Koton and Shushan Purim Koton. The difference between Purim and Shushan Purim Koton (small) and Purim and Shushan Purim Godol (great) is analogous to the difference between the beginning and completion of service. The above lesson, that even the beginning of service should be performed in an elevated manner, teaches that the service associated with Purim and Purim Koton must be done in a lofty manner, with enthusiasm and much ado — for it is the foundation of the service of Purim. And if so, we can understand with what type of enthusiasm and tumult the service of Purim Godol should be carried out!

On these days of Purim Koton and Shushan Purim Koton, then, we must perform all their aspects with the greatest fervor and tumult. And then, as a result, the matters of Purim Godol and Shushan Purim Godol will be in the loftiest manner.

2. We said above that the service associated with Purim Koton and Shushan Purim Koton should be observed with the greatest of enthusiasm and fervor. Some melancholic, gloomy-minded people say that we do not find in Shulchan Aruch any directives to make much ado about Purim Koton and Shushan Purim Koton. Why then the stress on extraordinary joy on these days?

However, the Ramah, after noting the different customs in observing Purim Koton and Shushan Purim Koton, concludes with the words, “And he who is of a good heart rejoices (lit., feasts) continually.” The Ramah is thereby hinting that one should rejoice and feast on Purim Koton.

Why does the Ramah not write this directive explicitly, and instead only hints at it? A “Chabadnik” (Lubavitcher), like those who are not “Chabadniks,” fulfills the words of Shulchan Aruch unhesitatingly even before he understands the reasons behind them — and therefore, in this case, rejoices exceedingly on Purim Koton. But, unlike non-“Chabadniks,” a “Chabadnik” knows that he must also try to understand — that a concept must be carried out not just in deed, but also permeate his Chochmah (wisdom), Binah. (understanding) and Daas knowledge) — Chabad. It therefore behooves us to comprehend the reason why the Ramah only hints that we should rejoice on Purim Koton and Shushan Purim Koton.

The Alter Rebbe, discussing the hakofos on Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah, explains that although hakofos are only a custom, not cited in the Written or Oral Torah, this itself indicates their lofty nature. That is, it is so lofty a thing that it cannot be expressed even in the Oral Torah: It can only express itself as a “custom.” He further explains that this is analogous to the distinction enjoyed by the water-libation over the wine-libation. Although the wine-libation is explicitly recorded in the Written Torah and the water-libation is recorded only in the Oral Torah, nevertheless, the water-libation is on a loftier level. Indeed, the fact that it is not explicitly written in the Written Torah shows its greatness: It is so lofty that it cannot be explicitly written. Hakofos is loftier even than the water-libation, for it can not be recorded even in the Oral Torah.

So too in our case: The directive to rejoice and feast on Purim Koton is not explicitly written even in Shulchan Aruch (unlike hakofos) — because it is of so high a level that it can only be hinted at.

Commentators note that these words of the Ramah, “He who is of a good heart rejoices continually,” are the conclusion of the entire section of Orach Chayim in Shulchan Aruch. And, they write, “In wisdom he fashioned the conclusion similar to the beginning ... He opened his notes [with the words,] ‘I have placed the L-rd before me continually,’ and concluded with, ‘He who is of a good heart rejoices continually.”’

“Orach Chayim,” the section in Shulchan Aruch which the Ramah opens and concludes with the word “continually,” literally means “way of life.” This section is exactly what its name says: It explains a Jew’s “way of life” throughout his lifetime. Therefore the Ramah begins the “way of life” with the instruction that “I have placed the L-rd before me continually,” and ends with the directive, “He who is of a good heart rejoices continually.”

But not all is clear: The words “He who is of a good heart rejoices continually” are of Scriptural origin (Mishlei 15:15), and therefore this directive applies all year. Why does the Ramah write it in the section of the laws dealing with Purim Koton, thereby stressing its particular relevance to Purim Koton? Its proper place would seem to be at the beginning of Shulchan Aruch. The laws in the Shulchan Aruch are written in the order of their frequency of occurrence. The first laws are those which deal with everyday life, such as the laws of washing one’s hands, the morning blessings, etc. Then come the laws of Shabbos (applicable once a week), then the laws of Yom tov, until it ends with the laws of Purim Koton (which apply only infrequently, since Purim Koton occurs only when the year is a leap year). Since the idea of “He who is of a good heart rejoices continually” is a directive which applies all the time, every day, its place would seem to be at the beginning of Shulchan Aruch, not the end.

However, although this concept does apply every day — as Scripture explicitly commands, “Serve the L-rd with joy” — nevertheless, the Ramah, in writing the words “He who is of a good heart rejoices continually” at the end of the Shulchan Aruch in the laws of Purim Koton, emphasizes that it is revealed with greater force on Purim Koton.

We will understand this by first explaining a concept associated with Simchas Torah. The festivals of the month of Tishrei begin with Rosh Hashanah and conclude with Simchas Torah. Chassidus explains that the service of Rosh Hashanah is to “Rejoice with trembling,” meaning that although the service of Rosh Hashanah is a joyful one, that joy is concealed. On Sukkos, Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah, this hidden joy is revealed.

The month of Tishrei is the prototype of all the months of the year. Just as the joy at the beginning of Tishrei is revealed at the conclusion of the month, so the joy in service of the whole year (the beginning of Shulchan Aruch) is revealed in the conclusion of the Shulchan Aruch.

The Ramah writes at the beginning of Orach Chayim: “‘I have placed the L-rd before me continually’ is a great principle in Torah ... When a person fixes in his heart [the realization] that the mighty king, the Holy One blessed be He, whose glory fills the whole world, stands over him and sees his deeds, fear and submission in awe of G-d will immediately reach him. And when he lies on his bed he shall know before whom he lies, and then immediately when he awakes from his sleep he will arise with eagerness and alacrity to the service of his Creator, may He be blessed and exalted.”

The realization that G-d is with a Jew, standing over him, not only brings one to fear and awe of G-d, but also induces joy and happiness. However, because one’s open feelings are awe, this joy is concealed — analogous to the joy of Rosh Hashanah.

When is this joy revealed?

On Shabbos, the main element is delight, not joy. On the festivals, although the Torah commands “You shall rejoice in your festival,” the joy is limited to defined parameters. Even on Purim, when Shulchan Aruch instructs one to “drink until one does not know the difference between ‘Blessed is Mordechai’ and ‘Cursed is Haman,”’ one cannot drink joyously the entire day since one must fulfill the mitzvos special to Purim (reading the Megillah, Mishloach Monos, gifts to the poor, etc.).

On Purim Koton, however, the Megillah is not read, nor are the other mitzvos of Purim performed. One can therefore feast, drink and rejoice on every free moment of the day (of which there are many more than on Purim proper). Thus the idea of “He who is of a good heart rejoices continually” is seen most openly on Purim Koton.

The above is emphasized in our days, the generation of the footsteps of Moshiach, when “darkness covers the earth,” and the world is in turmoil and strife. When undesirable things increase, we must respond with an increase in goodness and holiness. Thus in the situation in which we find ourselves today, we must increase in holy matters — and with great joy.

There is another aspect to the emphasis on joy in our times. The Baer Heitev comments on the Ramah’s words, “He who is of a good heart rejoices continually,” and says: “‘Continually’ — The House of our splendor (the Bais Hamikdosh) will speedily stand ... The Temple Mount will be established on the top of the mountains forever.” This alludes to the fact that an increase in the idea of “He who is of a good heart rejoices continually” hastens the fulfillment of the promise, “The House of our splendor will speedily stand.”

3. Parshas Sissa talks, among other things, of the sin of the golden calf, and as a result, the breaking of the tablets by Moshe Rabbeinu. Moshe then begged forgiveness for the Jews from G-d. Chapter 34, verse 1, states: “The L-rd said to Moshe, “Carve out for yourself two tablets of stone, similar to the first ones ...” Rashi, quoting the words “Carve out for yourself,” comments: “He showed him a sapphire quarry within his tent, and He said to him: ‘The chips shall be yours’; and from this Moshe became very wealthy.” Rashi then quotes the words “Carve out for yourself” a second time, and comments: “You broke the first tablets, you carve out for yourself others. This is comparable to a king who journeyed to a country overseas, and left his betrothed with the maids. Because of the corruption of the maids, an evil report went forth about her (the king’s betrothed). Her bridesman arose and tore up her kesuvah (marriage contract). He said: ‘If the king will command to kill her, I shall tell him, “She is not yet your wife.”’ The king investigated and found that there was corruption only among the maids; and he became reconciled to her. Her bridesman said to him (the king), ‘Write her another kesuvah, for the first was torn up.’ The king said to him, ‘You tore it up, you purchase another paper for her, and I shall write it for her with my handwriting.’ Similarly, the king is the Holy One blessed be He, the maids are the mixed multitude [which accompanied the Jews out of Egypt], the bridesman is Moshe, and the betrothed of the Holy One blessed be He is Israel. Therefore it is stated, ‘Carve out for yourself.”’

Rashi quotes the words “Carve out for yourself” twice, making two separate comments rather than combining them, for the two comments are about two different things. In his first comment, Rashi explains the meaning of the words “Carve out for yourself” — that “Carve out,” in Hebrew “P’sol,” derives from the word “p’soles,” meaning the chips that are left after the tablets are carved out from the sapphire. Rashi therefore interprets “Carve out for yourself” to mean “The chips shall be yours.” In his second comment, Rashi explains not the meaning of the words, but the contents of the verse — that it was specifically Moshe who had to carve out the second tablets (unlike the first which came from G-d) for he was the one who broke the first tablets.

In both comments there are difficulties in Rashi’s interpretation’. Starting with the first comment, some of the difficulties are:

    1) Why does Rashi say that the quarry of sapphire was “within his tent.” This is hard to understand for (i) What difference does it make if it was within his tent or not?; and (ii) From where does Rashi know, in the plain interpretation of the verse, that the quarry was indeed “within his tent”? If anything, one would think it was not where his tent was. A tent is placed on ground where it is easy to drive in pegs to keep it anchored. A quarry, especially of sapphire which is a very hard substance, does not seem to be a likely position for a tent.

    2) The verse says, “Carve out for yourself two tablets of stone.” Yet Rashi says that CA showed Moshe “a sapphire quarry.” Further, the Jews were encamped in a desert, which does not usually contain sapphire. A special miracle would seem to be needed for it to be there. Why, then, does Rashi say the tablets were made of sapphire which forces the conclusion that a miracle was necessary — and G-d does not make unnecessary miracles — when he could have said the tablets were made of regular stone (as the verse says)?

    3) Rashi’s source for his interpretation is the Midrash (Vayikra Rabbah 32:2). However, there it states that “G-d created for him a sapphire quarry.” Why does Rashi say “He showed him a sapphire quarry”?

    4) The most perplexing question: Rashi’s interpretation of the words “Carve out for yourself” (to mean “The chips shall be yours”) seems to contradict the verse’s plain meaning, which is simply that G-d commanded Moshe to carve the tablets out of stone on which G-d would write the Ten Commandments. That is, the plain interpretation is that the words “Carve out for yourself” refer to the tablets, not to the chips.

The difficulties in Rashi’s second comment are:

    1) Why does Rashi find it necessary to give such a long parable to explain the verse’s meaning, when just the words Rashi first writes, that “You broke the first tablets, you carve out for yourself others,” seem to be sufficiently clear?

    2) Why does Rashi in the parable write first the term “your betrothed,” then change it to “your wife,” and then change back to “your betrothed”?

    3) Rashi writes in the parable that the king said to the bridesmen, “You tore it up, you purchase another paper for her, and I shall write it for her with my handwriting.” The principal element in a kesuvah is not the paper, but what is written in it. Why then did the king tell the bridesman only to purchase another paper, and not also to write it — i.e. to produce another whole kesuvah in place of the one he tore up?

We cannot answer that Rashi wishes to be consonant in his parable to the actual verse which says, “Carve for yourself two tablets like the first ones, and I (G-d) will write upon the tablets” — which indicates that G-d (the king) wrote and not Moshe (the bridesman) — for now the question has merely been transferred to the verse. Since Moshe broke the tablets, he should now produce replacements exactly like the first ones the tablets with writing.

The question is further strengthened since we find in the Midrash (Shemos Rabbah 47:2) that it was indeed Moshe who wrote the second tablets. The meaning of “I will write” in our verse according to the Midrash is that G-d will help Moshe to write. Why, then, doesn’t Rashi interpret our verse like the Midrash?

The Explanation

The choice of the word “P’sol” in our verse to describe the action of carving is puzzling, for it can also be construed to mean chips left over from the carving. Why wasn’t the word “Chatzov,” which means only “Carve out,” used?

Rashi answers this question in his first comment (and, as is his wont, without expressly asking the question): “He said to him: ‘The chips shall be yours.”’ That is, the reason the word “P’sol” is used is to inform Moshe that the chips would belong to him. Of course, the plain meaning of “P’sol” is “Carve out,” referring to the actual tablets. Rashi in his comment is merely answering why this term is used specifically — and answers that it is to inform Moshe that in addition to carving out tablets, the chips would be his.

Indeed, Rashi hints at this by writing that G-d showed Moshe “a sapphire quarry” which in Hebrew is “machtzav.” Rashi thereby hints that G-d could have said “Chatzov” to tell Moshe to “Carve out” tablets, but instead said “P’sol” to additionally inform him that the chips belong to him.

Rashi then says, “and from this Moshe became very wealthy.” We have already learned that the Jews acquired booty in Egypt and at the Splitting of the Sea. Rashi therefore says, “and from this Moshe became very wealthy,” meaning that the wealth from the chips was in addition to the wealth he had before. Moshe needed much wealth so that he could give his offering to the Mishkan in a manner befitting him, the leader of the Jews.

The reason Rashi writes that the tablets Moshe made were of sapphire, although in the verse it says, “tablets of stone,” is because G-d told Moshe to “Carve out for yourself two tablets of stone like the first ones.” The first tablets, Scripture says (32:16), were “the work of G-d.” How could Moshe carve out tablets similar to G-d’s work? Rashi therefore concludes Moshe’s tablets were of sapphire, for then they would be “like the first ones.” Why? Rashi, on the verse (Shemos 17:6) “You shall strike into the rock,” says: “It does not say ‘on the rock,’ but ‘into the rock.’ We learn from here that the staff [with which Moshe smote the rock] was of a strong material, and its name is sapphire; and the rock was split by it.” In another place (Shemos 4:20), Moshe’s staff is termed “the staff of G-d.” Rashi therefore concludes that the tablets made by Moshe were from sapphire, for that would make it like the first tablets — “the work of GA.”

Rashi then says, “He showed him a sapphire quarry within his tent,” on which we asked, how does Rashi know it was “within his tent.” However, in previous verses (Shemos 33:7,9-11), we have learned that before the Mishkan was erected, G-d spoke to Moshe in his tent. Thus, in our case, G-d’s words to Moshe (“The L-rd said to Moshe: Carve out for yourself two tablets of stone”) were said in Moshe’s tent. The next verse relates the continuation of G-d’s words to Moshe — “Be ready by morning, and go up in the morning to Mt. Sinai.” There is no interruption, such as Moshe leaving the tent, between G-d’s command to Moshe to carve out the tablets and the command to go up to Mt. Sinai. Thus we must conclude that “He showed him a sapphire quarry in the tent” — in the place where G-d spoke to him. Moshe immediately carved out the tablets after G-d’s command, and then ascended to Mt. Sinai.

Rashi writes “He showed him a sapphire quarry” and not that G-d created one specially (as the Midrash interprets it), for, as noted above, G-d does not do miracles for no purpose. Instead, we can say simply that there was a sapphire quarry at that place, and the cloud that led the Jewish people on their journey stopped at that place and positioned Moshe’s tent over the quarry.

The explanation on Rashi’s second comment on the words “Carve for yourself” is as follows: We explained above that this second comment is not an interpretation of the words “Carve for yourself” (as in the first comment), but rather an explanation of the whole meaning of the second tablets. And Rashi in his comment addresses himself to a difficulty in the general idea of the second tablets.

The second tablets came into being after Moshe asked G-d for forgiveness for the sin of the golden calf. After forgiving the Jews, G-d commanded Moshe to carve out tablets, expressing the fact that “G-d was reconciled to Israel with joy and whole-heartedness.”

If G-d forgave the Jews wholeheartedly, why did He command Moshe to make the tablets, and not He Himself make them as He did the first tablets?

Rashi answers this question with the words, “You broke the first ones, You carve out for yourself others” and with the parable he brings. The parable shows that the king’s command to the bridesman that “You purchase for her another paper” does not reflect any lessening of the king’s regard for his betrothed, for “the king investigated and found there was corruption only among the maids.” The bridesman had to supply the paper for another reason — that he was the one who tore it up.

It is for this reason that the king did not command the bridesman to write the kesuvah. Had he done so, the kesuvah would be seen to be held in lower regard by the king, not having been written in the king’s handwriting. Rashi therefore writes that “The king said ... I shall write it for her with my handwriting” (although these latter words seem superfluous), for Rashi thereby stresses the difference between the paper and the writing. It is not possible to tell who purchased the paper — the king or the bridesman — and therefore the bridesman could purchase it (because he was the one who tore up the original one) without it reflecting on the king’s regard for his betrothed. But the writing of the kesuvah had to be done by the king in his handwriting, for if the bridesman would write it, everyone could notice that it was not the king’s writing and the kesuvah would not be so worthy.

So too with the tablets: Since “G-d was reconciled to Israel with joy and whole-heartedness,” the writing on the tablets (the “kesuvah”) had to be done by G-d. Moshe had to make the tablets for another reason: “You broke the first ones, you carve out for yourself others.” Since he made them of sapphire, they would still be “like the first ones” — “the work of G-d.” But in the case of the writing, Moshe was unable to duplicate “the writing of G-d,” especially since they were “written on both their sides” (32:15) on which Rashi comments, “it was a miraculous work.” Therefore G-d Himself had to write them — “I will write on the tablets.”

There is a further question Rashi answers with his analogy. The principal sin of the golden calf was from the “mixed multitude,” as Rashi comments on G-d’s words to Moshe (Shemos 32:7) “Go down, for your people have dealt corruptly,” that “‘The people have dealt corruptly’ is not said, but ‘your people’ — the mixed multitude that you accepted by yourself and converted them.” Moshe certainly converted these people according to the halachah, and their status then becomes identical to other Jews, as Torah states: “One Torah shall be for the native and for the proselyte.’ How then can Torah differentiate between the “mixed multitude” and the rest of the Jewish people?

Rashi answers this with his parable of the betrothed woman and her maids. Although the woman and the maids are in the same house belonging to the king, there is obviously still a difference between them. In our case, although the “mixed multitude” belong to the Jewish people, there is still a difference, analogous to the difference between the woman and the maids. Indeed, the very fact that Torah need emphasize that there is “one Torah” for all, shows that there is a difference.

It therefore follows that the maids’ corruption is not so severe a matter as the betrothed woman’s corruption. However, since “because of the corruption of the maids an evil report went forth regarding her” — in our case, meaning the corruption of the “mixed multitude” affected the Jewish people — “Her bridesman arose and tore up her kesuvah. He said: ‘If the king will say to kill her, I shall tell him, “She is not yet your wife.’”

The death penalty is not meted out to a betrothed woman who sins, but only to a married woman. In our case, the “marriage” of the Jews to G-d takes place at the conclusion of the giving of the Torah, which is effected through the giving of the tablets (the kesuvah). Since Moshe broke the tablets (i.e. tore up the kesuvah), there was no conclusion; only an agreement for the future. And that is why Rashi emphasizes that the bridesman said “She is not yet your wife.”

May it be G-d’s will that through talking about the second tablets, which possess “double strength’ in Torah study, we speedily merit to reach the ultimate in Torah study — when “A new Torah shall go forth from Me” in the true and complete redemption through our righteous Moshiach.


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