Office of the Chief Rabbi

D’var Torah: Parashat Ki Tisa


Full transcript of the Chief Rabbi’s Dvar Torah for Ki Tisa:

“In this week’s parasha of Ki Tisa, we are provided with details of the sin of the golden calf. Immediately after it, Moshe of course, broke the tablets of the Ten Commandments that he had received from Hashem on Mount Sinai. The Talmud tells us that immediately after that, Moshe stooped down in order to pick up the broken fragments. What did he do with them?

Our tradition tells us that in the Aron, which of course was placed in the Holy of Holies – first in the Mishkan and later in the Temple – there were a number of items:

Of course, the Ten Commandments – the second set that Moshe received. Together with the original Torah scroll – “Vezot HaTorah asher sam Moshe lifnei Bnei Yisrael, al pi Hashem b’yad Moshe”. It was Hashem who dictated these words to Moshe – he wrote them down in that original scroll. Thirdly, there was a jar of manna which had been miraculously presented by Hashem to the Israelites during their sojourn in the wilderness.

And fourthly, there were the broken pieces of the ten commandments. The way the Talmud puts it to us is: “Luchot ve’shivrei luchot munachim b’aron” – the tablets and the fragments of the tablets were in the Aron. I believe that there is a powerful message for us here. You see, often our sages compare human beings to the ten commandments. That’s because we should we should constantly strive to internalise their values. Each one of us should try to become a living sefer torah. And of course each one us will achieve our potential in our own individual way. There are some who sadly, for example, suffer from dementia. They are fragments of their former selves. Nonetheless, we in our communities have a responsibility to provide for their needs in the same way as we provide for the needs of one and all. And the love, care, respect and attention that we have for those precious individuals should not differ from anyone else.

Similarly, those who are challenged by learning difficulties within our educational, communal circles – we need to invest in their personal growth and development in the same way as we invest in the future of our ‘A-star’, brightest pupils in our schools.

That’s because everyone counts. In our tradition, we don’t have first class and second class citizens. “Luchot ve’shivrei luchot munachim b’aron”  Every single neshama is precious, every single person is holy.

Shabbat Shalom”

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