THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN
Parshas Kee Seesah
This week's seminal parsha features the creation of the Eigel Hazahav by Aroin Hacoihain, after Am Yisroel panics when Moishe Rabbeinu doesn't return after receiving the Luchois.
What were these am haratzim thinking? The Rebboinoisheloilum delivers them from Egypt with an outstretched arm, but Moishe hits a little traffic and POOF! "Let's worship Yushka Pandra!"
And Aroin Hacoihain, the meshumid, why did he have to go so far as to create the Eigel? If the people needed to rebel, why not start slowly? First, start with some traifus. Maybe a nice lobster. Sure, it's a big cockroach, but in the midbar you take what you can get. Or maybe he should have distributed Skittles or Hostess Twinkles to Klal Yisroel.
But instead, straight to the Eigel. No wonder the Melech-Malchei-Hamlachim wanted to wipe out Klal Yisroel.
However, He chose to spare them.
RASHI quotes a Gemarrah in Sanhedrin that says that instead of striking the minuvals down on the spot, Hakkadoshboruchhu renders the punishment on all subsequent generations of Klal Yisroel. When any generation suffers a punishment, the Shechinah ensures that there will be an added element attributable to the Eigel.
Consequently, in our day, even in times of relative affluence and success, we continue to suffer the Chayt HaEigel. Current sufferings include frigid wives, Macaroons, Kiddush Levanah in the middle of winter, the wait to get into Le Marais on a Sunday night, and the fact that Woody Allen is a Jew.
Yet despite his aveirah of inciting Klal Yisroel to worship the Eigel, Aroin retained the Kehunah. Farvoos?
The common answer among Chazzal is that Aroin was a tzadik who was trying to distract and delay Klal Yisroel. Consequently, it was only natural the he remain in charge of filling the paper towel dispensers, sweeping up, and turning out the lights in the Koidesh HaKedoishim.
But the MAHARAL disagrees, declaring that it is a whitewash to say that Aroin was really a tzadik. Says the MAHARAL, this makes about as much sense as waving a live chicken over your head to take away your sins.
Farkhert. The MAHARAL feels that Aroin was the ultimate Machiavellian figure who had clear aspirations to usurp the position of Moishe Rabbeinu. However, continues the MAHARAL, Moishe was smart enough to see this, and used it to his advantage. Moishe realized that every organization needs both a hero for leadership and vision, and a despot to keep everyone in line and "take the heat". And Moishe used Aroin as that despot.
The political machinations are clear. What was the first thing Moishe did when descending from the mountain? He broke the Luchois that the Aimishteh had made with His own two hands. And what did Moishe do next? He recruited Aroin and the Leviyim to slaughter 3,000 people. I personally would not have questioned Moishe's breaking the Luchois after that. Neither would you, you mechutzeff!
According to the RADAK, One of Moishe Rabbeinu's great aveirahs was his obsession with looking good. Hence, he kept his farbissineh brother around to be his goon. That way he could keep up his good image and capture future book deals and licensing revenues. (I personally have a new Moishe Rabbeinu Chia Pet in my Bais Medrish.)
We can even see signs of Moishe's obsession with his image in his discussions with Hakkadoshboruchhu. Following the Chayt HaEigel, one of Moishe's pleas to prevent the destruction of Am Yisroel is that if the Aimishteh were to destroy Klal Yisroel, the Mitzrim would say that the Jews were delivered from Egypt only to be killed in the desert. In essence, Moishe's argument is: "What will the Goyim say." What will the Goyim say? Since when does a Jew, Moishe Rabbeinu no less, worry about Goyisheh public opinion? Who does he think he is – Ehud Olmert?
I am reminded of a Maisseh Shehoya, when I was a Talmid with my Rebbe, the NPOJHARTHA. Many years ago we were traveling by horse and buggy through rural San Francisco to raise money for his Yeshiva. When it became evening, we stopped at a local lodge to eat. "But Rebbe," I asked, "the lodge serves traifus. How can we eat here?" "Sha, you minuval!" the NPOJHARTHA patiently responded, "we can eat whatever we want, and then sneak out the door. As long as we don't pay for it there is no aveirah." Years later, the NPOJHARTHA recognized that his sin had caused a stinging punishment: He is currently exiled to the wilds of West Virginia, not because of eating traifus, but because he didn't order the most expensive items on the menu.
Such is the fate of Moishe. Hitting the rock kept him out of Eretz Yisroel. But the Chayt HaEigel instigated by his minuval brother lost him his copyrights and much associated revenue on the Chamishei Chumshay Toirah. Rachmana Litzlan.
Ah Gutten Shabbos You Minuval.