The Shabbat of the Corona Plague
כִּי קָרַן עוֹר פָּנָיו
Parashat Ki Tissa is a parasha filled with grave mistakes, deep anger, tragic rage and death of members of Benei Yisrael, loss of faith, and a loss of hope. How could Benei Yisrael have lost faith in Hashem and in Moshe after everything they experienced in Egypt? Indeed, the Zohar interprets the word, boshesh, “Moshe tarried,” as, b-shesh, meaning, “in the sixth hour.” According to mystical tradition, after 6 hours of the day, the normal rules that protect us against chaos and disaster are suspended. After the sixth hour, society can devolve into entropy, losing our core, feeling as if the nation can spin out of control. The erev rav, that group who accompanied Benei Yisrael from Egypt, represents those forces of chaos. Hashem turns God’s divine face from the world. Moshe moves the Mishkan out of the camp. The center sits empty. Fear grips the nation. Every tribe, every family, every individual becomes overwhelmed by panic, fear, regret. Alone. Separated from each other. Alienated. Disoriented.
Then Moshe starts the work of repair. Immediately. The world needs to be filled again with hope and trust, with kindness and compassion. The world needs to be filled again with patience, and Hashem instructs Moshe in these core values of the divine. The world needs to re-experience divine love and hope and trust, to work together towards the common goal of health and well-being. Moshe brings down two new luchot from the mountain, his face shining with rays of light. Moshe covers himself with a veil. Nobody can see his face. At that moment, the Torah teaches us an incredible detail: ומשה לא ידע כי קרן עור פניו בדברו אתו. Moshe did not know that the skin of his face radiated light. Rabbi Moshe David Valle asks a simple question: “How could Moshe not have known that his face radiated with light?” He answers the following:
“Moshe’s face radiated 360 degrees. This was just the external manifestation of a deeper, inner light that came from deep inside of him. This was not natural light. This was spiritual light. Moshe did not realize that his face radiated, because speaking with Hashem had become so natural for Moshe, he was so naturally predisposed to conversing with God, that this was his normal condition.”
This teaches us a great lesson today. The Torah teaches us here about a goal for our “natural” state of being. What should we consider to be so natural that we no longer even pay attention? This moment in the world gives us pause to ask that question and re-set priorities. Let us, like Moshe, become so attuned to the needs of each other, so attuned to our well-being, so attuned to thinking rationally and clearly, so attuned to the collective needs of humanity in an interdependent world, that these priorities become a state of being, like Moshe’s state of being. Let us re-set ourselves according to the model of Moshe Rabbenu: just as he lived only for the purpose of holiness, to bring holiness into the world by making God’s 13 attributes manifest, attributes of patience and love and kindness and forgiveness and well-being, let us try to follow that example as we protect each other, protect ourselves, and cast a vision for a world that can be shaped and re-fashioned in an image of God’s hope for humanity.
Shabbat Shalom, Dov Lerea.