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  • Rav Moshe Weiss

Nahar U'Pashtei Parshas Ki Sisa 5781

Lessons of a Mask

When Moshe Rabbeinu descended Har Sinai with the second luchos on Yom Kippur, the Torah tells us of the incredible light that shone from his face. Moshe was not yet aware of this phenomenon, and his face shone brightly, reflecting his lofty madreigah. Next, the pasuk tells us how Moshe taught the Torah to the nation, and only afterward relates to us that he fashioned a mask to hide the glory of his countenance. The Torah writes that Moshe would remove the mask both when he learned the Torah from Hashem and when he taught the Torah to his students. It is simply a mistake to suggest that this mask was meant to protect the nation from being harmed by the spiritual light that emanated from Moshe’s face, for the Torah explicitly states that the mask was removed from his face each time he taught Torah! What, then, was the purpose of this mask, and why did Moshe Rabbeinu choose to wear it? The answer is that when Moshe learned of the unique spirituality that had been bestowed upon him, his first inclination was to hide it from others. Why should one flaunt his talents and show off his God given gifts? Moshe, the most humble of men, understood this gift from above to be something to aid him in his responsibilities; but certainly nothing to take personal pride in whatsoever. He fashioned a mask to cover the light that shone from his spiritual glory at all times other than when he was learning or teaching the Torah. Moshe understood that the purpose of his madreigah was to inspire and lead the nation, and he therefore allowed his face to shine when he taught Torah. This would instill within the people a great reverence for Torah, and a true yearning for the lofty levels one can attain through it. But, at all other times his face remained hidden. Of course, when he presented before Hashem there was no need for a mask, for there is no concept of hiding anything from Hashem; on the contrary, one is expected to approach learning Torah with every ounce of his given abilities. But most of the time, Moshe wore his mask, for he truly felt that he had no reason to let it shine forth. We must learn this lesson from our great leader, and we must learn it well. Everyone is blessed with different talents, and some more so than others. Some people have money, some great affluence. What a different world it would be if everyone perceived their gifts the way Moshe did, as having been gifted to them for the purpose of completing their unique mission and nothing else. So many pressures of society would vanish in an instant if we would all come to realize that one person’s mission has nothing to do with his fellow’s! Hashem gave each person a purpose, and the exact talents needed to fulfill it. There would be no room for jealousy, no room for negative peer pressure, and free generosity and love for each person. People would allow themselves to live within their means and their abilities, focusing only on the good they could accomplish. Moshe taught us this lesson with his mask; are we ready to listen? A gut Shabbos! A Project of the YSI Alumni Association Written by R’ Moshe Weiss

Nahar U_Pashtei parshas Ki sisa 5781
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