Parshas Ki Sisa
returned to HASHEM and said, “Please! This people has
committed a grave sin and made themselves a god of gold.”
– Shemos 32:31
When Moshe Rabbenu comes
down from Har Sinai
Moshe Rabbeinu came down from Har Sinai, he found a
very different scene than the one he left forty days
earlier. A segment of the Jewish nation, in rebellion
against HASHEM, had formed a golden calf and was worshiping
it. The rest of the nation stood by and didn’t protest. In
context, this was such an egregious act that HASHEM
threatened to destroy the entire nation.
explains that during the process of asking for forgiveness,
Moshe Rabbeinu said to HASHEM, “You caused this.
You gave the Jewish people gold and silver; they left
Mitzraim with great riches. Isn’t it obvious that they would
come to sin?”
This Rashi seems
difficult to understand when we focus on who these people
were and where this was taking place.
Klal Yisroel was living in the desert. They neither
worked for a living nor had any use for money. All of their
needs were taken care of. They ate Mon that was
delivered to their tents daily. They drank water from the
Be’er, the rock that followed them in their journeys.
Their clothes were washed by the Clouds of Glory, and
their shoes never wore out. They didn’t need money and
couldn’t use it. How could it become their downfall?
The real danger of
answer to this question is based on understanding why the
Misilas Yesharim calls wealth one of the great tests of
Materialism and self-indulgence are the risks of affluence,
but an even greater danger is that wealth can lead a person
to view himself as different than everyone else.
“There are regular people, but I am different because I am
rich. The world is full of people, but I am in a different
category. I am a rich man.”
this also comes a sense of self-sufficiency and arrogance.
“I am a wealthy man, so I don’t need anyone. I don’t need my
children. I don’t need my wife. In fact… I am so wealthy
that I don’t really need HASHEM.”
The danger of wealth is
the sense of being a rich man
seems to be the answer to this Rashi. Granted the Jewish
people living in the desert needed nothing and could do
nothing with their money, but the real risk of wealth is the
sense of superiority that comes along with it. In their
minds, they were now rich. As rich men, they were
significant, important, too big to be dependent upon anyone,
and this feeling was the root cause of their rebellion
Who were these people?
concept becomes a tremendous chiddush when we take into
account that these individuals were on a higher level than
any other generation in the history of mankind. They had
been slaves in Mitzraim and were freed. They had
lived through the entire process of the Maakos and
splitting of the Yam Suf. They watched as HASHEM
showed total dominion over every facet of nature.
more than all of this, they had only recently stood at the
foot of Har Sinai when HASHEM opened up the heavens
and the earth and revealed the greatest secrets of Creation.
They had seen and experienced HASHEM more clearly than did
the greatest Naviim, which tells us that they knew
exactly why they were created and how passing and
insignificant is a person’s station in this world. And yet
Moshe Rabbeinu compared their being wealthy to such a
difficult test that it would be like putting a young man on
the doorstep of sin.
highly illustrative of the inner workings of the human.
HASHEM created deep within our hearts many needs and
desires. One of these is the need for honor and prestige.
The drive for Kavod is one of the strongest forces in
man. Often we are unaware of its existence until a given
situation brings it to the fore.
the Klal Yisroel were then living in the ultimate
Kollel community, money still had value to them – not in
what it could buy, but in its more alluring sense, in the
associated feeling of power and importance that it brought.
They were now rich people, and that sense is so
dangerous that it can destroy even the greatest of men. For
that reason, Moshe said to HASHEM, “You caused this. The
gold and the silver that You gave them brought them to
Living in our age
concept has particular relevance in our day and age. Never
in the history of mankind have so many enjoyed such wealth.
On some level, each of us has the opportunity of “one day
many life situations, prosperity can be either a blessing or
a curse. If a person changes because he is now a rich
man, he needs more, he feels that he deserves only
the best, and he won’t be satisfied with what everyone
else gets by with. That sense of superiority will
turn him against his Creator, and the very wealth that he
acquired will be the source of his ruin. For eternity, he
will regret having been given that test – which he failed.
However, if a person remains aware that he was granted
wealth for a purpose – that he is not the owner of it, but
rather its custodian, duly charged with its proper use –
then he can use it as a tool to help him accomplish his
purpose in existence. His wealth will then be a true bracha
that he enjoys in this world, and for eternity, he will
enjoy that which he accomplished with it.
Sent by: Joy Haber
on Jan 3, 2012