We find ourselves in unprecedented times. The coronavirus outbreak has now been labelled as a pandemic, spreading in multiple countries all over the world. People are anxious and no one knows how things are going to unfold.
What message can we give our children?
This Shabbos is not only parshas Ki Sisa but also Parshas Parah. We have just enjoyed Purim and are heading towards Pesach. What is the common denominator between these four events?
The common denominator is emunah, faith in Hashem.
Ki Sisa tells of the sin of the egel hazahav, the golden calf where a section of Klal Yisrael displayed a lack of emunah. Parshas Parah speaks about the quintessential chok – זאת חקת התורה. Purim is the story of how Hashem delivered Klal Yisrael in a hidden way and Pesach is the story of direct intervention by Hashem. Contemplation of both is intended to enhance our faith. Telling and internalising the stories are meant to imbue us with emunah and withstand the travails of our times.
The Gemara in Megilah (16a) tells us that when Haman looks for Mordechai to carry out King Achashverosh’s reward of riding on the king’s horse, dressed in royal clothes, he finds Mordechai in the Beis Hamedrash teaching hilchos kemitzah. Hilchos kemitzah are technical laws involving flour offerings.
Why hilchos kemitzah now? The first Beis Hamikdash has been destroyed and the second has yet to come. There is no Beis Hamkidash, no flour offerings and no kemitzah?
The answer is that Mordechai is teaching a powerful message. Klal Yisrael are in deep trouble. The noose is tightening around their neck. A date for state sanctioned genocide has been set. Mordechai does his hishtadlus, he makes every effort to guide Esther and together with the rest of the Jewish people, he fasts and prays. And then he teaches hilchos kemitzah.
In so doing, he is telling Klal Yisrael the message of last week’s haftorah – נצח ישראל לא ישקר. Mordechai is saying we may be in a precarious state, but we will get through this, we will prevail. There will yet be a Beis Hamikdash and Kohanim will once again perform the avodah and take a kemitzah.
The message to our children is the same. We must do our bit to stay safe and follow medical guidelines carefully, but we remain calm in the knowledge that HKBH runs the world.
Rabbi J Golker