Friday, March 09, 2007

Tosefet Bracha - Ki Tissa 2

“Aharon called and said ‘tomorrow is a festival for G-d’” (32; 8)

Rashi tries to figure out what Aharon means by this – which festival is he referring to? It seems to me based on the end of Talmud Ta’anit (30b): There was no happier day for Israel than the day that the tablets were given.
Aharon was certain that the next day Moshe would arrive and bring the tablets, and there would be a festival.
We must also examine how this statement fits with another statement that says: There was no happier day for Israel than Yom Kippur (Ta’anit 26b). They can’t both be the happiest day. Perhaps we can explain that the happiness of Yom Kippur was purely physical. It was the day that the women would go out to the fields and the men would seek a spouse. The day that the tablets were given was purely spiritual. Therefore they could each be the happiest day in their own realm. Alternatively, we could answer based on the Midrash Rabba that it was on Yom Kippur that Moshe descended the mountain for the final time with the second set of tablets. In that case there would be no contradiction between the two sources.

“Let me know Your ways” (33; 13)
The Talmud (Brachot 7a) says that this was Moshe’s request to know the ways of G-d. ‘Why are there righteous who suffer and wicked who prosper?’ The Talmud there gives many different explanations.
I am amazed. It seems that there is a very simple and basic answer to this question. The Talmud in Nida (16b) says that before the creation of a child they announce in Heaven all the aspects of his life. Whether he will be strong or weak, wise or foolish, rich or poor. The only thing that is not decided before birth is whether he will be righteous or wicked, since this depends on a person’s free choice. This is the one area where G-d gives a person free will, to decide how they will relate to Him. ‘Everything is in the hands of Heaven except the fear of Heaven’.
It turns out therefore that if a person’s lot is to be poor, and he decides by himself to become righteous, this would be a case of ‘righteous who suffer’. Conversely if it is decreed that a person will be rich, yet they decide to be wicked, we would view this as the ‘wicked who prosper’. This is obvious and simple. Perhaps Moshe was asking a more complicated question (which would explain why the Talmud doesn’t give this answer).

No comments: