Sign In Forgot Password

"Yasher Ko'ach!"

02/20/2019 04:37:02 PM


Rabbi Reuben Israel Abraham, CDR, CHC, USN (ret)

In this week's Torah reading, Parashat Ki Tissa, we read of Moshe's reaction to witnessing the B'nei Yisrael (the Children of Israel) worshipping the Eygel HaZahav (the Golden Calf), "It happened as he drew near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moshe's anger flared up, and he threw down the Luchot (the tablets) from his hands and shattered them at the foot of the mountain." (Shemot/Exodus 32:19)  This action is so tragic that the Mishnah tells us that Moshe's shattering of the handiwork of Hashem (the Luchot) into pieces is one of the reasons we fast on the Seventeenth of Tammuz.  The Midrash tells us that Moshe's swift action - the breaking of the Luchot - gained the immediate attention of the B,nei Yisrael.  In fact the Talmud states that Hashem told Moshe, "Yasher Ko'ach!  ("May your strength increase!")  You did well in breaking the Luchot."  Why did Hashem congratulate Moshe for destroying H's handiwork?  The Midrash tells us that 3,000 people worshipped the Eygel HaZahav and only one tribe of 22,000 men (the Levi'im) had tried to stop them.  The great majority of the  rest of the B'nei Yisrael, while they did not worship the Eygel HaZahav, took no action whatsoever to protest against the 3,000 people who did.  Because of their inability to decide whether or not they should join the 3,000 "rebels," Moshe's action was a clear declaration that such an action could not and would not be tolerated by Hashem.  His action literally stopped the B'nei Yisrael "dead in their tracks."  The following story will perhaps better illustrate this point.

Donald Cage was the CEO of a multi-million dollar law firm based in California.  He had built the firm from the ground up in only a few years.  Hanging on the wall behind his desk was a distinctive looking picture frame which held not a law school diploma as one might expect.  In this frame was the letter of dismissal he had received years earlier from the company for which he had been working.  Mr. Cage said, "When I received that letter of dismissal, it caused me great pain and embarrassment.  I had been fired because of a few careless mistakes.  I felt so incompetent.  However, the truth is that the phenomenal success I have achieved over the past few years is also due to that letter...When I received that letter, I felt so low that I promised myself that I had enough of failure.  That letter gave me the drive to succeed.  So, I framed it!"

Hashem commanded Moshe to take the the broken pieces of the Luchot which He had made and place them in the Aron (the Ark) which was to be placed in the Kodesh HaKodashim (the Holy of Holies) in the Mishkan (the Wilderness Tabernacle).  The fact that Moshe broke the Luchot did not make them worthless. It made them all the more precious, for they were an eternal reminder that the B'nei Yisrael were able, with Moshe's help, to overcome their doubts and return to their heritage: the Torah given to them by Hashem.  May we be able to do the same when and if necessary.


Sun, September 15 2019 15 Elul 5779