THOUGHT FOR PARSHAT KI TISSA 5779
BY RABBI CHAIM FACHLER
It’s not that I think about Mum ע"ה all the time. I really don’t. But I do find myself associating things, situations, people, etc with my dear late Mother, and no more so than now, as I gather my thoughts to prepare this week’s ideas for the Parsha.
Ki Tissa has many components, but they can be loosely compartmentalised into three themes, each of which immediately and effortlessly conjure up such special memories of Mum.
The Parsha starts off with a clear instruction to each and every one of us to stand up and be counted and make a contribution. Mum did that, and boy did she do it. I shared with Chany my secretary, some of the missives we children received during the Shiva recounting Mum’s “contribution” to the Jewish world in Letchworth, London and Jerusalem. Her comment said it all – it seems your mother accomplished in her lifetime more than what ten people typically do. Indeed.
The Parsha continues with the dark episode of the Sin of the Golden Calf. But it’s not the actual transgression I wish to focus on. It’s Moshe’s handling HaShem’s understandable wrath against this unappreciative rabble. Indeed, HaShem threatens to wipe out the Chosen People and create a new nation with Moshe as its leader. True to his very apolitical character, Moshe graciously refuses the tempting offer, but even more tellingly, he succeeds in tempering HaShem’s anger to the extent that the threat is all but forgotten. How many times did Mum diffuse nasty situations? How many times was she able to reason with angry parents, or with even angrier children of those parents? And how many times did Mum put literally everyone else first?
And finally, this week we are reintroduced to the concept of Shabbat and Chagim in the Jewish home. Hello?? Our Mother WAS the concept. Mum rewrote, redesigned, reinvented, and more importantly LIVED the concept of Shabbat and Chagim in the Jewish home. Her Jewish home, that became for so very many, THEIR Jewish home.
So as you see, I’m not thinking about Mum all the time. But she’s never very far away. Which is why, even as I prepare this Thought, while wiping away the occasional tear, I’m also smiling.