Thoughts from Kollel KLAL

Ki Sisa

Hashem sanctified the first-borns of Bnei Yisrael in Mitzrayim when He smote the first-born Mitzri’im and saved the first born of Yisrael. After Bnei Yisrael sinned by the golden calf, Hashem separated the Levi’im from Bnei Yisrael, elevated them, and sanctified them in exchange for the first-born Yisrael. Rashi explains, the Levi’im were chosen out of all Bnei Yisrael since they did not worship the golden calf. When Moshe descended from the mountain he saw that Bnei Yisrael were doing improper things and he said, “מי לה’ אלי” which literally means “who is to Hashem, to me.” This is difficult to understand, what does this mean? Onkelos answers this by translating as, “They who fear Hashem shall come next to me.” The Nefesh HaGer explains, Onkelos adds “shall come” to explain the intent of the shortened passuk.  מי לה’, whoever fears Hashem, which are those who didn’t sin, אלי, shall come next to me. The Nesina Lager adds, Onkelos translates “יראי ה’ those who fear Hashem” in plural, which refers to all those who didn’t sin.

The passuk ends “ויאספו אליו כל בני לוי,” which Onkelos translates as “and all the Bnei Levi gathered together next to him.” Throughout all the tribes there were people who strayed after the golden calf. Some actually worshiped it and others honored it. However, all the Levi’im stayed firm with dedication to Hashem. Rashi explains, every single person in the tribe of Levi was loyal to Hashem and did not worship the golden calf. Therefore the tribe of Levi was chosen to serve Hashem instead of the first-born Yisrael.

There is a famous story with HaRav Shimon Schwab zatzal who visited the Chafeitz Chaim on his way back from yeshiva. The Chafetz Chaim asked Rav Schwab, are you a Kohen? He responded, “No.” He asked “why not?” He responded “because my father was not a Kohen.” And why was your grandfather not a kohen? Because his father was not a kohen. Rav Schwab asked the Chafeitz Chaim to explain. The Chafeitz Chaim said, when Moshe called out “מי לה’ אלי” my great-grandfather came, but your great-grandfather did not. So I am a kohen and you are not. Rav Schwab took this message and decided he would always be one to act on the call of מי לה’ אלי. Rabbi Schwab’s grandson added, Rav Schwab said “Hashem constantly calls out מי לה’ אלי and we should heed the call.

When Moshe called out the entire tribe of Levi came together to Moshe, and not one was persuaded by the other tribes whatsoever. Therefore Hashem selected them to be His people who perform the avodah. Now, Klal Yisrael is spread out amongst the nations with numerous challenges surrounding us. We are so minute that we can easily be persuaded and affected by the non-Jewish nations. One of the biggest miracles is that Klal Yisrael still exists and was not eradicated as many other nations were killed out or simply dissipated. We are like one sheep amongst 70 wolves, constantly in danger. Hashem loves us and protects us in all situations and wherever we are, to keep us alive and help us continuously exist.

The Ba’al Ha’Tumim was asked by one of the wise non-Jewish people, “the Torah states אחרי רבים להטות, go after the majority. Since you are the minority from all the nations why don’t you go after the majority to accept our beliefs?” He answered that the concept of רוב, following the majority, is only said where there is a doubt and a need for clarification. It is not said where something is clear and definite. For example if a piece of meat is recognizable that it came from a non-kosher store, we do not say go after the majority, as there is no doubt, we know it is treif. So too is with our belief, we have no doubt in the truth of our belief that Hashem is emes, and the majority of non-Jews won’t make us budge from our faith.

May we heed Hashem’s daily call of מי לה’ אלי and stay loyal to Him albeit the challenges around us.

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