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Length: 51 minutes
The first aliyah (section) in Parshas Ki Sisa is our first introduction to the relationship between the mishkan and Shabbos. Betzalel, the builder of the mishkan, was appointed because of his ability to understand that the mishkan needed to be constructed in the same way as the world, in order to bring Hashem’s presence upon it. The mishkan is a sanctuary as a place, while Shabbos is a sanctuary in time. However, Shabbos is a constant kedusha (holiness) that will always be here, even when the mikdash has been destroyed. As Klal Yisroel, our kedusha is constant just like the holiness of Shabbos. Shabbos expresses the constancy of our connection and relationship with Hashem, as it is kept throughout the generations, in every place, even without the presence of Hashem in the specific mikdash.
Length: 55 minutes
The first aliyah (section) is about the counting of the Jewish nation through everyone giving half a shekel to have a part in the building of the Temple. The Temple, where the Ketores (spice offering) was offered, is a place of life and of transcending the boundaries of mortality. The Torah also fills the world with sweet fragrance and vitality. Both the Ketores and the Torah stop the angel of death from carrying out a plague on the Jewish people. Before we have the story of the sin of the golden calf which brought death back into the world, the Torah puts the section explaining the Ketores and the anointing oil which represent eternity and immortality.
Length:1 hour 3 minutes
In the second aliyah (section) the Torah speaks about the sin of the golden calf. The Luchos represent the presence or the absence of the relationship with Hashem. Triggered by the imagined death of Moshe, the sin of the golden calf broke the covenant and the marriage that was made by Har Sinai between the Jewish people and Hashem. Yom Kippur and Purim both correct the damage that was done by Har Sinai and they become days of renewed acceptance of the Torah.
Length: 46 minutes
The second aliyah (section) is a long aliyah about the story of how the Jews sinned with the golden calf. There is a strong parallel between the sin of the golden calf and the sin of Adam. These two stories are both about having the light of Hashem in each Jew. With that light comes immortality, life, and invulnerability. Man was created in a perfect state and then lost it. So too the Jewish people were created in a perfect state and then lost it. The light became more superficial rather than inherent. Our goal is to reverse the steps of the sins and make the light radiate from within us once again.
Length: 51 minutes
The fourth aliyah (section) begins in middle of a conversation between Hashem and Moshe in which Moshe wants to see Hashem’s essence and His ways. However, Moshe is linked to the Jewish Nation, as he had requested to be, and is therefore not able to see Hashem’s face. When it comes to our relationship with Hashem, we have no way to see the essence of Hashem but we can see His actions. When we attach ourselves to Torah we will be able to see the good in everything that He does.
Length: 52 minutes
The seventh aliyah (section) discusses how Moshe is in heaven for forty days and forty nights and when he descends the mountain, his face was shining. After interacting with Hashem, Moshe’s soul was shining forth. Our core understanding as human beings comes from the Torah. We are made up of a body and a soul and the part that is more dominant is dependent on our character. When the Torah and his soul is his essence, that person will begin to radiate.
Length: 1 hour 4 minutes
The Eirev Rav were the instigators of chet ha’egel, and brought the rest of Klal Yisroel down with them. Although we usually accept geirim (converts), we do not accept them when they want to join in a time when everything is going well for the Jews. Their motives are selfish, and they are not choosing to fulfill the mitzvos because of a genuine desire. The Eirev Rav joined Bnei Yisroel because it appeared to be materially worthwhile, but did not give up their ties to avodah zarah. This selfishness is a strong contrast to the selflessness of the Leviim, who ignored family ties and self-preservation in order to kill those who took part in the chet ha’egel, including their own relatives. The Leviim were elevated to their status of serving in the mikdash because of this selflessness.
Length: 56 minutes
Chazal equate the maaseh egel (sin of the golden calf) with Adam’s sin of eating from the Etz Hadaas. In both cases, the original revelation of the presence of Hashem was reversed, resulting in mortality and limited perception of Hashem’s presence. The Jewish people were all prophets at Har Sinai, yet they could not handle the intense revelation of Hashem, and asked for Moshe to be their messenger instead. When he did not return based on their calculations, they created the golden calf to be their go between, as they felt that they could not relate to Hashem directly. This calf symbolized the downfall of mankind from an elevated being created b’tzelem elokim (in the image of G-d), like the original sin of Adam, when he is told that he will eat from the grass of the land, like an animal.
Length: 1 hour
The chet ha’egel (sin of the Golden Calf) was the undoing of Matan Torah in many different aspects. While Har Sinai was the demonstration of closeness between Hashem and the Jewish people, the egel was an expression of distance. Har Sinai was characterized by spiritual sustainment, while the egel, a false spiritual experience, was expressed in very physical terms. The sense of Yiras Shamayim (fear of Heaven) and necessary deference that Matan Torah brought to the Jewish people was reversed through the lighthearted laughter and boisterous dancing around the egel. This lack of yirah is what bothered Moshe the most, as he exemplified Yiras Shamayim, as the most humble of men.
Length: 58 minutes
Chet Ha’egel (the sin of the golden calf) shows how a klal (group) can do teshuva. In the brachos of Shemoneh Esrei referring to teshuva, we refer to Hashem both as Avinu, our Father, and Malkeinu, our King. This duality in found in Parshas Ki Sisa as well, as we go back and forth between relating to Hashem as a ben (son) and as an eved (servant), especially after the chet ha’egel. We want to move from serving as servants to the deeper connection of banim (children), restoring things to be how we were at Har Sinai, with a closer, greater relationship with Hashem.
Length: 56 minutes
When Moshe came down from Har Sinai after forty days and forty nights, he saw the golden calf and the Jewish people laughing and dancing around it. When they miscalculated the days and imagined that Moshe was dead and will not be returning, the Jews should have responded with grief rather than happiness. However, they immediately adjusted to their new reality of being further from Hashem with joy; rather than yearning for what they were missing. They enjoyed having more freedom from the responsibilities that came along with having Hashem in their midst. When dancing over the golden calf, they were celebrating the new distance between Hashem and the Jewish nation.
Length: 1 hour 5 minutes
The sin of the golden calf corresponds to the twelve tribes from the book of Bereishis. The golden calf plays a terrible role of separating the Jewish people, the twelve tribes. We see from this story as well as other stories in the Torah how some Jews are very passionate about fellow Jews and will do anything to defend them even if it means overlooking principles. There are other Jews who are very passionate about Hashem and the Torah and will do anything to defend them even if it means overlooking their fellow Jew. We need to have a combination of both brotherhood and principles in order to bring the twelve tribes together again and regain that which was lost from the sin of the golden calf.
Length: 1 hour
The sin of the golden calf was that the Jews gave a divine strength to something they had formed on their own without being told by Hashem. The power of being able to wait, accept, and listen is a positive definition of humility which women have. The women refused to give their jewelry for the golden calf but happily and eagerly gave for the building of the mishkan (temple). By following the exact instructions from Hashem and allowing His presence to come down and rest, the Jews were able to make the mishkan. The absence of that is what creates the golden calf.
Length: 53 minutes
With the giving of the Luchos, there came along a lot of freedoms. These freedoms had been lost by the sin of Adam, regained, and then lost again by the sin of the golden calf. With the second Luchos they were only partially returned. By having the luchos engraved in us and acting like angels by only focusing on Hashem’s laws, these freedoms can be restored.
Length: 52 minutes
There is a strong relationship between Tefilla (prayer) and Teshuva (repentance). Teshuva and Tefilla are both about being close to Hashem not just in proximity, but rather in integrating Hashem in us and mimicking Him. How do we achieve this closeness? The key is in our Daas, knowledge. When we develop in ourselves the same understanding and knowledge of Hashem and exhibit it in the thirteen attributes of mercy, then we will have the capacity of tefillah and have an internal closeness.
Length: 45 minutes
We continue our studies in the Gur Aryeh, the commentary of the Maharal on Rashi.
Length: 57 minutes
Purim is a time when we reaccepted the Torah, reaffirming our connection to Hashem. In this shiur based on the teachings of Rav Hutner, we explore three explanations of Kimu V’kiblu (they established and reaccepted [the Torah]). First, although Amalek wants to claim that our relationship with Hashem is a chance encounter, we prove that it is an ongoing relationship that we will stick to and preserve. Additionally, we are stating that we were not forced, but rather, we are the same Klal Yisroel that said Na’aseh V’nishmah (we will do and we will hear) at Har Sinai, and we want to accept the Torah. This positive acceptance does not necessitate any separation from the past or charatah (regret); rather, the strength of the good takes away from the strength of the bad through the v’nahapoch hu of Purim.
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Dvar Torah Chanukah 5778 Even as Chanukah celebrates the impressive Hasmonean victory over the Greek armies, we more prominently commemorate the miracle of the hidden flask of Menorah oil. And while the battlefield conjures up images of strength and bluster, Chanukah...read more
Shabbos Shuva 5778 Robert Coles is a professor emeritus of Psychiatry at Harvard who taught classes on morality. In a classic essay titled “The Disparity Between Intellect and Character”, he begins as follows: Over 150 years ago, Ralph Waldo Emerson gave a lecture at...read more
Chinuch : Cultivating a Work Ethic, Independence and Personality