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Shabbat Parashat Ki Tisa | 5769

A Trustworthy Servant

Parashat Hashavuah

Harav Yosef Carmel


After being given at Mara and “featured” prominently at matan Torah, Shabbat is mentioned in this week’s parasha (Shemot 31:17) and next week’s. We will try to understand these mentions and Moshe Rabbeinu’s connection to Shabbat with the help of the Shabbat morning tefilla: “Moshe will rejoice with the giving of his portion, for a trustworthy servant You called him; a crown of grandeur You gave to him, when he stood before You at Mount Sinai; two tablets of stone he brought down in his hand, and it was written in them the guarding of Shabbat.”

When Hashem contemplated destroying Am Yisrael, Moshe rose to the occasion, willing to sacrifice his interests to save them. The pasuk says: “If You will bear their sin; and if not, erase me from the book that You wrote” (ibid. 32:32). Our parasha also relates that when Moshe came down from the mountain, his face glowed (ibid. 34: 29, 35). Let us now summarize the historical progression of the time. Moshe began his leadership of Bnei Yisrael in Egypt while they were still slaves. The first step in their liberation was to convince Paroh to give them a weekly day of rest – on Shabbat. This was not merely a respite from work but a break from physicality, enabling them to concentrate on spirituality. Upon becoming leader, Moshe actually became “a slave to the holy nation.” He thereby taught the nation the notion that pushing off personal needs for the needs of the collective is uplifting. The height of Moshe’s servitude to the nation is what we mentioned, that he was willing to be wiped out of Hashem’s book on the people’s behalf.

The first commandment about Shabbat came after the Torah was given at Sinai, and it gave a spiritual significance to the exodus. However, the sin of the Golden Calf, which was the wrong type of servitude, put into question the centrality of spirituality in the nation’s life. Moshe’s willingness to sacrifice ensured Hashem’s forgiveness. First, his shining countenance was a sign to all that he was a trustworthy servant. Also, Bnei Yisrael received again the gift of Shabbat, which was accompanied in the second tablets with the command of shamor (guard).

We now return to the Shabbat tefilla. “Moshe will rejoice with the giving of his portion (the gift of the original Shabbat in Egypt and his acceptance of his mission), for a trustworthy servant (of the nation) You called him; a crown of grandeur You gave to him (the shining face), when he stood before You at Mount Sinai (begging for the nation’s survival); two tablets of stone he brought down in his hand (the second tablets), and it was written in them the guarding of Shabbat (“guard the day of Shabbat”).”

May we merit again leaders who resemble the trustworthy servant, Moshe. Let us also remember that Shabbat is our liberation from the enslavement to a variety of Golden Calves.


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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of

R ' Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga  Brachfeld



Hemdat Yamim is endowed by
Les & Ethel Sutker of Chicago, Illinois in loving memory of
Max and Mary Sutker

and Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l.



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