Parshas Ki Sisa - Why Hashem Forgives

By BJLife/Moishy Pruzansky

Posted on 02/21/19

Parshas HaShavua Divrei Torah sponsored by
Dr. Shapsy Tajerstein, DPM - Podiatry Care.
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The sin of the Golden Calf was one of the worst sins in our nation’s history. After being rescued from Egypt with open miracles, sustained in the desert with bread from heaven, awarded the Torah and an eternal covenant with G-d Himself, members of our nation rebelled against Hashem in the worst conceivable way. Yet, after we recognized the gravity of our sin and sincerely repented, Hashem forgave us with open arms. In fact, in order to demonstrate His forgiveness and that His love for us still remained, Hashem even granted us many privileges that we hadn’t had before *.

The sin of the Eigel (Golden Calf) was one of the worst and most offensive sins imaginable! Why did Hashem forgive us? Additionally, why in the world did Hashem even go so far as to grant us new privileges???

R’ Ashear (author of “Living Emunah”) explains that this question is predicated on not fully understanding how much Hashem really loves us. If we would fully comprehend it, our question would disappear. The Torah compares Hashem’s love and care for us to that of a father and mother **.

How far does a parent's love for their child extend?

On December 7, 1988, a massive 6.8 earthquake nearly flattened Armenia, killing over 25,000 people in less than four minutes. In the midst of the chaos and devastation, a father ran to the school where his son learned, and saw that the building had collapsed. After the initial shock and trauma, the father clearly recalled how he had always promised his son that no matter what happened, he would always be there for him. With tears in his eyes, he surveyed the rubble and remembered that his son’s classroom was in the back-right corner of the building. He rushed over to that corner and began digging through the rubble. Bystanders tried to dissuade him, explaining to him with grief in their voices that there was nothing he could do. But he just turned to them and said, "Are you going to help me, or just stand there?". He continued digging alone, stone by stone. Soon the fire chief arrived and tried pulling him away from the scene. "There are explosions everywhere," the chief warned, "It's just too dangerous". "I'm not going anywhere," the father insisted. A couple of hours later, the police chief came and tried to pull the man away, but he wouldn't budge. He remained there, digging by himself, for 8 hours, then 12, 24, and 36 hours. He simply couldn’t let go of his desire to be reunited with his beloved son. Finally, after 38 hours, he pulled back a large boulder and… heard his son's voice! He yelled his son's name, and heard, "Dad! It's me! I knew you were coming, I just knew it! I told all the other kids that they had nothing to worry about - because my father promised that he would always be there for me.". It turns out that when the building collapsed it formed a wedge-like triangle saving 14 people, including his son.

The fact that the Torah compares Hashem’s love and care for us to both a father and a mother **, is only because this love is the highest level of love that we can understand and relate to. It is merely a frame of reference. In truth, however, Hashem’s love for us is infinitely greater than that of the father in the above-mentioned story. Now we can understand why Hashem forgave us for the sin of the Golden Calf and made it abundantly clear that he was doing so through open demonstrations of love. We are Hashem's CHILDREN and His pride and joy. Like a parent, all Hashem wants is for us to succeed and therefore He is always willing to accept us back when we return to Him. Always ***.

Living Inspired

Even if a Jew sins, even if he hasn’t yet succeeded in serving Hashem in the way that he should, Hashem still loves him. Rav Tzadok explains that Hashem's love for us is unconditional and not dependent on anything. To illustrate this point, the Gemara states that the Keruvim on top of the Ark represented the relationship between Hashem and the Jewish nation. When the Jews fulfilled Hashem’s will, they would face each other. When they disobeyed Him, they faced away from each other (Bava Basra 99a). However, as the Bais Hamikdash was being destroyed, the Keruvim were actually embracing one another, something they had never done in the past  - demonstrating an unprecedented display of love from Hashem towards the Jewish people (Yoma 54b). This was the ultimate symbol that even when Hashem has to punish us due to our sins, even during our lowest points in history, His love for us remains. (In fact, The Nesivos HaShalom explains that during the hard times, both physically and spiritually, Hashem is even closer than ever).  

Hashem’s love and care for us is beyond our imagination. By forgiving us for the Golden Calf, He demonstrated to the entire Jewish nation that no matter how greatly we sin, He will ALWAYS accept us back with open arms, if our repentance is truly genuine and sincere. Hashem desires nothing more than having the closest relationship possible with us (which is achieved by observing the Torah and mitzvos). Truth be told, deep down, we all know that there is nothing that we desire more than having the closest relationship with Him as well. May we always recognize the incredible love that Hashem has for us, that He is always ready to accept us back and that He always desires for His connection with us to be even stronger.


*- For example, before our sin, the Clouds of Glory were metaphysical and could only be perceived by prophets. After Hashem forgave us, however, the entire world was able to perceive them and the love that they represented. Additionally, after Hashem forgave us the Clouds of Glory surrounded us constantly, while before our sin, it accompanied us only during travel. For more examples, see “Zman Simcha’seinu”, by R’ Dovid Cohen, the Rosh Yeshiva of Chevron.

**- Hashem calls us His children - בנים אתם לה' אלוקיכם - and we call Him our Father - אבינו אב הרחמן. Additionally, the prophet Yeshayahu compares Hashem’s love for us to the manner in which a mother comforts and cares for her children (Sefer Yeshayahu 66:13).

***- However, Hashem only forgives us if our repentance is sincere. Notice that there has never been another Golden Calf in history.