banner2.gif
  Torah from Dixie leftbar.gif [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] []    [top_xxx.jpg]

THE GUESTS WHO WOULD NOT LEAVE

by Rabbi Shmuel Weiss    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

This week’s Torah portion contains the dramatic story of the golden calf. Moses’ fury at seeing his people dancing in wild revelry before the calf results in the shattering of the tablets. (As my kids say: "See, Moses wasn’t so perfect—he broke all ten Commandments!")

complete_story.gif    

[]

This week’s Torah portion contains the dramatic story of the golden calf. Moses’ fury at seeing his people dancing in wild revelry before the calf results in the shattering of the tablets. (As my kids say: "See, Moses wasn’t so perfect—he broke all ten Commandments!")

The Midrash comments that Moses did not exactly throw the tablets down. In reality, they were too heavy for any human to hold. However, the Midrash explains, the letters inscribed upon them floated with a power of their own. Always pulling upwards towards the Creator, the letters actually kept the tablets upright. But when the letters "saw" the calf, they left the tablets and flew back to heaven. At that point, the stone lost its buoyancy and became too heavy to hold, crashing to the ground.

This Midrash is reminiscent of another story. When the Romans tortured Rabbi Chananya ben Teradyon, they wrapped him in a Torah scroll and set it afire. His students asked, "Rebbe, what do you see?" He answered, "I see the parchment burning, while the letters of the Torah soar upwards."

The message being taught by these two incidents is really the same. The Torah, on one hand, is of this world; it is ours to decipher, interpret and implement. We must study and teach it, and work hard to discover its great secrets. No heavenly voice will reveal the Torah’s meaning to us.

Yet at the same time, the Torah is clearly above and beyond the physical and scientific limitations of the mortal world. The letters of the Torah—called otot, or wonders—are indestructible; they can never be expunged or eliminated. And the wisdom behind those letters comes from a higher source, far beyond our own limited scope. We can inscribe those letters on earthly material—stone tablets, a Torah scroll, the flesh and blood of a revered rabbi. But they are not prisoners of those homes. Rather, they are cosmic guests "brought down" to inhabit these temporary abodes for a certain length of time. If the masters of the homes aren’t worthy, or the "lease" runs out, the letters will depart for other residences.

Unlike mere mortals, they are permanent citizens of the universe, and they are the "buoyancy" of our souls.

[]

Rabbi Shmuel Weiss, a close friend of the Torah from Dixie family, is the director of the Jewish Outreach Center in Rana’ana, Israel. He is also the author of Shammes: Stories of the Jewish Experience, published by Targum Press.

You are invited to read more Parshat Ki Tissa articles.

Would you recommend this article to a friend? Let us know by sending an e-mail to editor@tfdixie.com

butombar.gif [] [] [] []

© 2001, Torah From Dixie. All rights reserved.