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גרעין קהילתי וקריית חינוך ע"ש מאיר והראל הינה עמותה שמפעילה תוכניות ופרויקטים בתחומי ישיבה, קהילה, זהות יהודית חברה, צבא ורפואה

Restoring trust in the people of Israel

Parsha and its realization - Parshat Ki Tisah - and the war of the 'Iron Swords' 5784

Rabbi Eliezer Haim Shenvald

Dedicated to the IDF soldiers' success, to safeguard them lest any harm come to them, to the healing of all the wounded and the return of the abducted.

The nation of Israel is a special nation within the family of nations, its uniqueness stemming from its purpose. It has extraordinary skills and abilities. Although it is a very small nation in comparison to the nations of the world, it has influenced over the years in many areas and bequeathed to the world essential assets like faith in one G-d, culture, morality, science, and progress. It is a nation with extraordinary abilities and strengths that has faced extremely difficult challenges throughout its thousands years of existence, which no other nation has.

There is no dogmatic uniformity within the people of Israel. It has an array of attitudes, and therefore it has different groups that often disagree with each other. The history of the people of Israel throughout thousands of years shows that one of its existential assets is its ability to unite, despite the lack of uniformity, and to show mutual solidarity.

Haman the Amalekite recognized the weakness in the loss of its unity:

יֶשְׁנ֣וֹ עַם אֶחָ֗ד מְפֻזָּ֤ר וּמְפֹרָד֙ בֵּ֣ין הָֽעַמִּ֔ים... וְדָתֵיהֶ֞ם שֹׁנ֣וֹת מִכָּל־עָ֗ם ... וְלַמֶּ֥לֶךְ אֵין שֹׁוֶ֖ה לְהַנִּיחָֽם... אִם עַל הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ ט֔וֹב יִכָּתֵ֖ב לְאַבְּדָ֑ם

 “There is a certain people, scattered and dispersed among the other peoples … whose laws are different from those of any other people … and it is not in Your Majesty’s interest to tolerate them. If it pleases Your Majesty, let an edict be drawn for their destruction…" (Esther 3:8-9) And he asked to:

לְהַשְׁמִ֡יד לַהֲרֹ֣ג וּלְאַבֵּ֣ד אֶת כָּל הַ֠יְּהוּדִים מִנַּ֨עַר וְעַד זָקֵ֜ן טַ֤ף וְנָשִׁים֙ בְּי֣וֹם אֶחָ֔ד

"to destroy, massacre, and exterminate all the Jews, young and old, children and women, on a single day…"  (ibid 13).

As a way of dealing with the decree, Esther asks all the people to rise above the differences, to gather and unite: לֵךְ֩ כְּנ֨וֹס אֶת כָּל הַיְּהוּדִ֜ים.

“Go, assemble all the Jews" (Ibid 4:16), and to go to a defense war out of unity: נִקְהֲל֣וּ וְעָמֹ֣ד עַל נַפְשָׁ֗ם.

"likewise mustered and fought for their lives" (Ibid 9:16) The unity and the miracles of Heaven brought about the victory:

וְנַהֲפ֣וֹךְ ה֔וּא אֲשֶׁ֨ר יִשְׁלְט֧וּ הַיְּהוּדִ֛ים הֵ֖מָּה בְּשֹׂנְאֵיהֶֽם׃

"…the opposite happened, and the Jews got their enemies in their power" (Ibid 9:1). The victory highlighted the nation's greatness before the whole world and restored the nation's confidence in itself.

Since the return of our people to their country, a Hebrew Defense Force was established. With the establishment of the state, its strength was founded on the fact that it was a 'recruited society' whose best sons, from all sectors, were recruited for its defense 'shoulder to shoulder' against its enemies and were ready to give their lives for its existence. During the last few years, there were those who questioned whether we had gotten tired, and whether we are still a recruited society, and lost confidence in its abilities and strength.

The months of protest, division and the call for refusal exacerbated the question marks and created a confidence crisis in the strengths and abilities of the people.

The scale of the recruitment since the war broke out, the cohesion during it, the joint fighting, shoulder to shoulder, of the reserve and regular service soldiers, and the unprecedented achievements fulfilled during the war so far, have restored the confidence in the inherent strengths of the nation, and the confidence in our ability to reach, G-d willing, the end of the war in Gaza, and in the northern arena with complete victory.

At the same time, there is a demand from the majority of the public to preserve the success and unity that were created in the fighting, also in the civil, public and political arenas, out of trust in the people's strengths.

Parashat Ki Tisah opens with the commandment of giving 'half of the shekel' in the census:

כִּ֣י תִשָּׂ֞א אֶת רֹ֥אשׁ בְּנֵֽי יִשְׂרָאֵל לִפְקֻדֵיהֶם֒ וְנָ֨תְנ֜וּ אִ֣ישׁ כֹּ֧פֶר נַפְשׁ֛וֹ לַה' בִּפְקֹ֣ד אֹתָ֑ם

"When you take a census of the Israelite men according to their army enrollment, each shall pay Hashem a ransom for himself on being enrolled…" (Shmot 30:12)

אָמַר רַבִּי אֲבָהוּ, אָמַר מֹשֶׁה לִפְנֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא: רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם, בַּמֶּה תָּרוּם קֶרֶן יִשְׂרָאֵל? אָמַר לוֹ: בְּ״כִי תִשָּׂא״.

The count is called Ki Tisah - When you raise: "The Gemara discusses other matters concerning charity. Rabbi Abbahu says: Moshe said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe, with what shall the horn of Israel be exalted? G-d said to him: With the passage of “When you raise,” i.e., Israel will be exalted by way of the donations and charity that they will give, as it is stated: “When you raise the heads of the children of Israel…then shall they give'' (Shmot 30:12). (Bava Batra 10b)

ד"א כי תשא אנו [מוצאים במקומות] הרבה שהקדוש ברוך הוא אמר למשה שאו את ראש בנ"י כי תשא את ראש ולמה כן אלא אמר הקב"ה למשה משה כל מה שאתה יכול לרומם את האומה הזו רוממה שכאילו לי אתה רומם...

This reflects the recognition of the uniqueness and greatness of the people of Israel: "We find in many places that the Almighty said to Moshe, שְׂא֗וּ אֶת־רֹאשׁ֙ "Take a census" כִּ֣י תִשָּׂ֞א אֶת רֹ֥אשׁ "When you take a census", and why? G-d said to Moshe, Moshe all you can do is elevate this nation, just as you raise me up, etc". (Pesikta Rabbati 10)

Later on in the Parasha, there is 'the sin of the golden calf' and its punishment:

וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר ה' אֶל מֹשֶׁ֑ה לֶךְ רֵ֕ד כִּ֚י שִׁחֵ֣ת עַמְּךָ֔ ...

"Hashem spoke to Moshe, “Hurry down, for your people have acted basely…" (Shmot 32:7) The scripture emphasizes the change in relation to the people of Israel, with the word עַמְּךָ֔ 'your people' instead of עמי 'my people':

לֶךְ רֵד כִּי שִׁחֵת עַמְּךָ, הָעָם אֵין כְּתִיב כָּאן אֶלָא עַמְּךָ, אָמַר משֶׁה רִבּוֹן הָעוֹלָם מִנַּיִן הֵם עַמִּי...

“Go descend, for your people…have acted corruptly” – it is not written here, “the people,” but rather, “your people.” Moshe said: "Master of the Universe, since when are they 'my people'?" (Shmot Rabbah 42:6)

אלא בזמן שאין ישראל עושין רצון המקום כביכול אינו קורא אותן עמי ...

"When the people of Israel are not doing the will of the Omnipresent, they are not called 'my people'" (Midrash Tannaim on Devarim 26:15:6)

The nation of Israel denied its mission, as G-d's 'people', and lost its right to exist:

וְעַתָּה֙ הַנִּ֣יחָה לִּ֔י וְיִֽחַר אַפִּ֥י בָהֶ֖ם וַאֲכַלֵּ֑ם

"Now, let Me be, that My anger may blaze forth against them and that I may destroy them…” (Shmot 32:10) in an irreparable way.

However, despite the sin, Moshe does not lose his faith in the people of Israel:

וַיְחַ֣ל מֹשֶׁ֔ה אֶת פְּנֵ֖י ה' אֱלֹקיו וַיֹּ֗אמֶר לָמָ֤ה ה' יֶחֱרֶ֤ה אַפְּךָ֙ בְּעַמֶּ֔ךָ

But Moshe implored Hashem, saying, “Let not Your anger, Hashem, blaze forth against Your people…" (Ibid 11)

and he devoted himself wholeheartedly:

וְעַתָּ֖ה אִם תִּשָּׂ֣א חַטָּאתָ֑ם וְאִם אַ֕יִן מְחֵ֣נִי נָ֔א מִֽסִּפְרְךָ֖ אֲשֶׁ֥ר כָּתָֽבְתָּ׃

"Now, if You will forgive their sin [well and good]; but if not, erase me from the record which You have written!” (Ibid 32)

He trusted in his ability to return the nation to its pre-sin greatness.

אָמַר רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן יוֹחָאי לֹא זָז משֶׁה מִתְּפִלָּה עַד שֶׁקְּרָאָן הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עַמּוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות לב, יד): וַיִּנָחֶם ה' עַל הָרָעָה אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר לַעֲשׂוֹת לְעַמּוֹ.

"Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai said: Moshe did not move from prayer until the Holy One blessed be He called them His people, as it is stated: “Hashem reconsidered the evil that He had spoken of doing to His people.” (Shmot Rabbah 41:7)

Moshe Rabeinu seeks to return the trust to its outset:

וְנִפְלִ֙ינוּ֙ אֲנִ֣י וְעַמְּךָ֔ מִכׇּ֨ל הָעָ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל פְּנֵ֥י הָאֲדָמָֽה

"…so that we may be distinguished, Your people and I, from every people on the face of the earth” (Shmot 33:16)

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