THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN
Parshas Kee Seesah
This week's seminal parsha features the creation of the Eigel Hazahav by Aron Hakoihain, after Am Yisrael 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 Aron Hakoihain, 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 cockaroach, but in the midbar you take what you can get. Or maybe he should have distributed Skittles or Hostess Twinklies to Klal Yisrael.
But instead, straight to the Eigel. No wonder the Melech-Malchei-Hamlachim wanted to wipe out Klal Yisrael.
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 Shchinah 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, Aron retained the Kehunah. Farvoos?
The common answer among Chazzal is that Aron was a tzaddik who was trying to distract and delay Klal Yisrael. 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 is a whitewash to say that Aron was really a tzaddik. Says the MAHARAL, this makes about as much sense as waving a live chicken over your head to take away your sins.
Farkert. The MAHARAL feels that Aron 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 Aron 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 Aron 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 aveiras 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 image in his discussions with Hakadoshboruchhu. Follwing the Chayt HaEigel, one of Moishe's pleas to prevent the destruction of Am Yisrael is that if the Aimishteh were to destroy Klal Yisrael, the Mitzrm would say that the Jews were delivered from Egypt only to be killed in the desert. In essense, Moshe'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 -- Dov Hikind?
I am reminded of a Maisseh Shehoya, when I was a Talmud with my Rebbe, the Farbissineh Rebbe. Many years ago we were travelling 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 Farbissineh Rebbe 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 Farbissineh Rebbe recognized that his sin had caused a stinging punishment: He is currently exiled to the wilds of Quebec, 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 Yisrael. But the Chayt HaEigel instigated by his minuval brother lost him his copyrights and much associated revenue on the Chamishay Chumshay Torah. Rachmana Litzlan.
Ah gutten Shabbos, you Minuval
Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Yeshiva Chipas Emmess