Monday, February 17, 2014

415 - Ki Sisa

Most people are worried by one type of fear or another. Little children get scared when their mothers leave them. When they get a little older they frightened by the dark. When they grow up a little more they become afraid of dogs and cats. Many adults are worried about robbers. A store owner might double check that all the windows and doors are locked, and then go through the store once more just to be sure. Where do all these fears come from? Psychologists have been grappling with this question for many years.

Rav Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash) says that the answer can be found in a Rashi in this week's parsha! When Moshe descended from Har Sinai after receiving the second set of luchos, his face was shining: "Aharon and the entire Bnei Yisrael saw Moshe and the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to approach him" (Shemos 34, 30). When they stood at Har Sinai they were able to gaze at the Shechina even though it was, "like a fiery furnace on top of the mountain" and they were not frightened. What happened that they suddenly became frightened from Moshe's shining countenance? 

Rashi enlightens us with the answer. The fear came as a result of an aveirah! Har Sinai occurred before they sinned with the golden calf. They were on a higher spiritual level, and therefore, even the fire accompanying the Shechina did not scare them. In contrast, after they sinned, they quaked and they trembled from the mere radiance of Moshe's countenance. A low spiritual level, e.g. after committing a transgression, brings fear in its wake. 

What can be done about this situation? How can we rid ourselves of these fears? Torah has the ability to raise a person into a spiritual world devoid of fear. However, this will only occur as long as we do not drag the Torah itself into our fears! For some, the mitzvos are a source of anxiety. When they wash their hands, they worry maybe they didn't use a revi'is, maybe his fingernails were dirty, maybe the water didn't cover their whole hand, maybe their hands weren't dry previously and a plethora of other fears. These concerns have nothing to do with meticulousness in the performance of mitzvos. The Chafeitz Chaim only heard one series of a hundred shofar blasts. He didn't run to hear another set of blasts because "maybe he didn't fulfill his obligation." 

The more we involve ourselves in Torah and mitzvos, the more elevated we will become. As we climb the spiritual ladder, the fears and anxieties of the physical world will slowly and surely disappear, for the Torah is the ultimate panacea!

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