Saturday, March 10, 2012

Project Genesis Lifeline News from Project Genesis and Volume XIX, Number 21 - Ki Sisa & Purim - Exodus 30:11-34:35

from HomepageProject Genesis Lifeline 
News from Project Genesis and
Volume XIX, Number 21 - Ki Sisa & Purim - Exodus 30:11-34:35
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In This Issue:

Note from the Director
Did They Not Believe? -
Repairing Damaged Relationships -
New Installments of our Ongoing Classes
This Week's Torah Reading: Ki Sisa and Purim Featured Article: Consumer Oriented

One of the major themes of the holiday of Purim is that events around us may not be as they seem, that this is a "topsy-turvy world" where things may be the opposite of what they appear to be. Reading the Megillah, one gets the impression that Mordechai needlessly made trouble, while the more politically-savvy Jews went to the king's party in order to maintain peaceful relations. If Mordechai hadn't stubbornly refused to bow down, Haman wouldn't have become so angry, and the whole story might never have happened!

We know, of course, that the opposite was true. Attendance at the party (celebrating that the Temple had not been rebuilt, and that the Jews had been defeated) represented a dramatic spiritual failing. It was Mordechai who saw the path to redemption. But one must look deeper to see this.

When I was in college, I remember that the student mime troupe performed for Hillel before Purim. Despite the Jewish narrator and Jewish actress in the role of Esther (who had been through Hebrew school with me), they couldn't imagine that Esther would never want to be queen, much less that she would find the very idea repulsive. Even though the Megillah tells us that Esther refused any attempt to beautify herself because she didn't want to be chosen, their version of Esther prepared and auditioned to be queen. If one doesn't understand the rich spirituality that is our inheritance, earthly riches seem more valuable -- to them, it was only logical that she would prefer a life of luxury over a life with Mordechai.

All of us are liable to think we understand what is going on around us, that we have found explanations for why things are happening. Ultimately, however, Megillah tells us that we must look deeper, and seek the guidance of those capable of looking deeper still, if we wish to truly understand -- and respond correctly.

Learn about Purim with our articles at, and listen to our Purim audio

Have a Happy and Meaningful Purim, and please share your comments!

Rabbi Yaakov Menken
Director, Project Genesis -
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Question: After the Israelites saw Moses part an entire sea and have it stay that way while the slaves escaped, how can they possibly doubt G-d and build the idol of the Golden Calf? Wasn’t it obvious that G-d was with them?

Answer: They didn’t build the calf because they didn’t believe. They built the calf because they were confused and that is what they were used to in Egypt. Also, only 3,000 took part in the calf incident out of millions that were there. The others were also punished, not for participating, but for not taking steps to stop the transgressors.

All the Best,
Rabbi Azriel Schreiber
See it at

Download for free a 2 minute class, Repairing Damaged Relationships, by Rabbi Yaakov Beasley. Rabbi Beasley discusses the importance of focusing on shared values in order to fix a broken relationship as we see in this week's Torah portion, Ki Sisa.

Listen Now, or Free Download

Listen for free to Purim and Amalek, by Rabbi Shaya Karlinsky from Yeshivat Darche Noam/Shapells.

Also, listen for free to Getting Drunk - What's It Really All About?, by Rabbi Avrohom M. Alter.

For premium TorahMedia members, check out Purim in Our Times(Part 1 and 2), by Rabbi Shlomo Brevda.
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New Installments of our Ongoing Classes

The Day of Atonement
by Rabbi Dr. Azriel Rosenfeld
We are commanded to refrain from work on the tenth day of the month of Tishrei, as it says "In the seventh month on the tenth day of the month......
Read more in Halacha Overview
Chapter 3: Mishna 5: Part 1
by Rabbi Shaya Karlinsky
After the Tanna has taught the virtue of one who is involved in Torah [study], and the flaw of one removes himself for the study of Torah, he teaches us the present lesson. What is being taught is as follows....
Read more in Maharal
Getting Hooked on Evil, Part II
by Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld
When one human being owes another for everything he goes into denial. "No -- my parents made my life miserable." Otherwise, he will realize he owes a debt he can never repay, and that he must be eternally beholden to parents who though no...
Read more in Maimonides on Life
Aaron vs. Moses
by Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld
The Talmud records a number of stories of non-Jews who approached the Sages requesting to be converted to Judaism only if certain outrageous conditions be met. (One asked that he be taught the entire Torah while standing on one foot, another...
Read more in Pirkei Avos
Dual Meanings
by Rabbi Daniel Travis
The righteousness weigh every word carefully, and the nuances of even the slightest departure from normal speech patterns must be explained....
Read more in Priceless Integrity
Da'at Tevunot - The Knowing Heart: Section 6, Chapter 8
by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman
Like the stars, each and every moment alternately shines and dims, shines and dims....
Read more in Ramchal
Chapter Thirty-Five
by Rabbi Yitzchok Rubin
I have an admission to make, one I am sure many of you will understand: I am a bit of a hypochondriac....
Read more in Rhythm of the Heart
The Path of the Just: Chapter 23 (Part 4)
by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman
Consider the undeniable fact that “a rich person can easily become poor, a ruler can quickly become a lay-person, and an honored person can suddenly become despised”, Ramchal points out, and the like....
Read more in Spiritual Excellence
The Power of Pausing
by Rabbi Daniel Travis
Everyone agreed that Shimon was extraordinary. His unique personality might not have been readily discernable from the outside; however, after speaking to him, you would agree that Shimon was not like everyone else....
Read more in Tefilah: Praying with Joy
The Courage to Create a New Reality, Part 1
by Mrs. Leah Kohn
The story of Rachav is set forth in the Book of Joshua, Chapter Two, takes place approximately forty years after the Exodus from Egypt, when the Jewish people are ready to cross the Jordan River to conquer the land of Israel....
Read more in Women in Judaism
New classes on Ki Sisa and Purim
Who Knows?!
by Rabbi Label Lam
Read more in DvarTorah
Raise Your Head
by Rabbi Berel Wein
Read more in Rabbi Wein
by Rabbi Pinchas Winston
Read more in Perceptions
The Whole is Greater tha n its Parts
by Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky
Read more in Beyond Pshat
Hey! You Never Know!
by Rabbi Label Lam
Read more in DvarTorah
Read previous years' classes on Ki Sisa and Purim on
In one of the most difficult portions of the Torah, and chapters in our history, this week the Children of Israel make a Golden Calf and serve it. The act warrants their annihilation, and Hashem threatens Moshe with just that, adding that He is ready to build a nation from Moshe himself. "Hashem said to Moses, ‘I have seen this people, and behold! it is a stiff-necked people: And now, desist from Me. Let My anger flare up against them, and I shall annihilate them, and I shall make you a great nation.’" (Exodus 32:9-10) But Moshe beseeches Hashem to forgive the nation for the calamitous sin of the Golden Calf, and Hashem acquiesces, offering an historic formula which is the precursor to every prayer of penitence. Hashem entails the supplication that is known as "the thirteen attributes of Hashem."

They include the words "Hashem, Hashem, G-d, Compassionate and Gracious, Slow to Anger, and Abundant in Kindness and Truth…" (Exodus 34:6-7).

Those powerful, deep, and concise statements that embody anthropomorphic qualities to an Omnipotent Creator contain significant meaning far beyond mortal comprehension.

What is astonishing is that almost immediately after Hashem forgives the people, Moshe beseeches Hashem to accompany them for the precise reason that Hashem was angered by them!

"If I have now found favor in Your eyes, my L-rd, let my L-rd go among us -- for it is a stiff-necked people, and You shall forgive our iniquity and error, and make us Your heritage." (Exodus 34:9) Was it not stiff-neckedness that caused Hashem to want to annihilate them?

It had become a nuisance for most of those who strolled in the Swiss forest in the early 1950s. Hikers would come home and spend time removing the sticky cockleburs that had fastened to their clothing. But it was something that their forebears had lived with for years and another hindrance that nature had put in their way.

But George de Mestral did not look at the cockleburs that had snagged his sweater as a nuisance. In fact, he realized that Divine genius played a vital role in their physiology.

Returning home after a walk one afternoon, he took out a microscope to get a better look at Hashem's prodigy. When he realized that the burs were actually comprised of thousands of natural hooks that would engage countless loops he realized that this was no nuisance of nature. Their sticky nature was actually the way that these seed pods were transported to find new breeding grounds. They would latch themselves to the fur of animals and be transported.

De Mestral realized that he could carry this wisdom to the more mundane world. And so with a system of a fuzzy felt and crocheted hooks, he combined more than just two divergent materials. He also combined two words, velvet and crochet, now employed in the lexicon and inventory of both schoolchildren and rocket-scientists. He invented, or perhaps introduced us to, Velcro®.

The Dubno Maggid explains that after Moshe heard the wondrous quality of Unrestricted Compassion, he realized that Hashem was actually offering a product that was well-tailored to our mortal needs. It was in fact Moshe's biggest argument for Hashem to accompany His nation.

"Angels don't need those attributes! It is the fallible human who needs that ever-lasting, unceasing mercy! It is only because we are stiff-necked that we need Your unending kindness!"

That is why after Moshe heard Hashem's argument, followed by His attributes, he presented his plea for Divine accompaniment. Often, we do not take advantage of the great goodness of Hashem. We leave His attributes in heaven, distancing our mundane needs from His all-powerful abilities. Moshe teaches us that it is distinctly our capriciousness and mortality that needs His omnipotence. We must realize that the attributes of Hashem are specifically assigned to sustain His nation. And all we have to do is utilize that unceasing, unyielding, and everlasting product to our advantage.

Good Shabbos

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