Torah Fax

Friday, March 17, 2006 - 17 Adar, 5766

Torah Reading:Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11 - 34:35)
Candle Lighting Time:  5:46 PM
Shabbat Ends: 6:47 PM
Shabbat Parah
Old and Improved
Our Parshah tells us that after the Jewish nation was chastised for creating and worshipping the golden calf, G‑d declared to Moses: "Behold I will make a covenant…" With these words, G‑d made a covenant with the Jewish people as His way of promising to maintain a special relationship with them.  
The question is asked, why was a covenant necessary? Wouldn't G‑d's word suffice? And if a covenant was indeed necessary, didn't G‑d already make a covenant with Abraham? Why was an additional covenant necessary?
In Biblical times, a covenant involved taking something and cutting it in half. The two parties to the covenant then walk through the two halves as a way of affirming that their relationship is akin to two halves of one whole. Thus, when G‑d made a covenant with Abraham He was affirming the organic relationship that would exist between G‑d and Abraham's descendants-the Jewish people.
However, there are two forms of covenants. There is a covenant that involves certain commitments on the part of both parties. When one of the parties does not live up to those commitments, the covenant is thus terminated.
This conditional covenant was seriously challenged when the Jewish people worshipped the golden calf. That flagrant demonstration of infidelity sufficed to sever the ties that were instituted at the covenant in the days of Abraham and reinforced at Mount Sinai.
Now, G‑d introduced a new covenant, one that would indicate that G‑d and Israel were indeed inseparable. Even after sinning, their connection to G‑d would remain intact. Nothing could separate them from G‑d.
This also explains why the Jews were told to contribute a half-shekel after they worshipped the golden calf. It was G‑d's way of stating that He and the Jewish people were still two halves of one whole. "A Jew," the Talmud states, "even if he sins is still a Jew."
But at this point the next question begs to be asked. If we enjoy this close and organic relationship with G‑d even if we flout His commandments, why bother? What is the point of a Jew observing the commandments, if G‑d's covenant and love extends even in the extreme circumstances when we do not observe them?
There are two ways of answering this question.
First, when a child knows that his parent will accept him or her even if he or she does not obey their wishes, would a sensible and loving child want to hurt his parents? Precisely because we know how much they love us-to the point that even if we disobey them they will never reject us-that knowledge itself impels the child to do everything to make his or her parent happy.
Second, while it is true that G‑d's love for us is so great that it transcends our faithfulness to Him, yet, this love can be concealed. What is necessary to help us reveal this powerful love? The answer is: the observance of the commandments. Thus, when a Jew does not fulfill them, the essential and unconditional love that G‑d has for us will remain dormant. It is the observance of the Mitzvot is the key to unlock that hidden love.
Another key to the unlocking of G‑d's essential and hidden love for us is Teshuvah, true and sincere repentance and return to G‑d's ways.
A third key to revealing this love is through prayer and invocation of the Thirteen Divine Attributes of Mercy as Moses did in the aftermath of the golden-calf debacle.
But as long as we are in exile, all of our efforts at revealing this essential bond cannot be fully successful. One of the major accomplishments of the Messianic Age will be the full exposure of the essential bond that exists between G‑d and us. To facilitate that process, we must incorporate all three keys: observance of Mitzvot, Teshuvah and prayer.
Moshiach Matters
We are at the pinnacle of Jewish history, the time most appropriate for the Redemption to come. And the coming of the Redemption will be further hastened by the commemoration of Yud Shevat, by holding gatherings in connection with that date, by studying the Previous Rebbe's teachings, and dedicating ourselves to the activities he promulgated. And this will hasten the fulfillment of the prophecy "Those that lie in the dust will arise and sing," at which time we will emerge from the exile and proceed to the Holy Land, to Jerusalem, and to the Third Holy Temple. (The Lubavitcher Rebbe, 6 Shevat, 5752-1992)

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