Parshas Ki TIsa
In this week’s Parsha there is a crucial figure in the sin of the Eigel who does not appear. That person is Chur the son of Miriam. I would like to try to figure out who he is and why his part in the story is left out.
Chur first appears literally standing at Moshe’s side. At the end of B’shalach when Klal Yisroel goes to battle against Amalek, Moshe goes to the top of the hill to daven. He brings with him two assistants, Aharon and Chur. When during the Tefila Moshe’s hands get tired (which is a topic on its own) he sits on a rock and his hands are held aloft by Aharon and Chur. In a number of sources it is clear that Aharon who represents peace and chesed is to Moshe’s right; and Chur who represents Din and judgement is to Moshe’s left. Even the name of Chur is reminiscent of the word Charon, Charon Of, the idea of HaShem’s judgement.
The next place where Chur is mentioned is when Moshe goes up to receive the Luchos. He does not want to leave Klal Yisroel without leadership, so he appoints Aharon and Chur in his stead. From these two places we see that Chur was a crucial element in Klal Yisroel, only one step below Moshe. But after this he disappears.
In this week’s Parsha Chazal reveal that Chur was killed by the builders of the Eigel, when he tried to stop them. Why is this valiant attempt to save Klal Yisroel not revealed? Furthermore, how could Klal Yisroel commit such evil? A mistake in understanding their relationship with HaShem is more easily understood, but a brutal murder is difficult to comprehend.
The Shem MiShmuel teaches a basic principle that he applies here also. When we study the various conflicts in the Torah we see that sometimes things almost seem to be completely out of proportion. Because Yosef receives an extra piece of clothing, his brothers sell him as a slave! How are we to understand these events.
He explains that many times when we see people agreeing and not standing up for what they originally said is not a sign of peace. It is actually a sign that they really do not care, an the issue is not something worth disagreeing over. The disagreement between Yosef and his brothers is because they understood the matter at stake; who will continue the work of the Avos. The brothers felt that Yosef was usurping their portion in the building of Klal Yisroel. That created the disagreement. On such a matter you cannot just take a back seat and give in.
The same thing is true here. The generation of the Midbar were deemed worthy to receive the Torah. They are called the דור דעה the generation of knowledge. But as Chazal teach, each person in Klal Yisroel was another letter of the Torah. If I have all the letters of the Torah, but they are separate, that is not a Torah. If each person thinks his letetr is right then there is no Torah. The Achdus before Matan Torah was to create a single Torah. The one who could do this was Moshe. He had the ability to encompass within him the entire Torah. When he leaves and appoints Aharon and Chur, the various approaches of each Jew come to the front. There is no Achdus. As we said even Aharon and Chur have separate Midos that need Moshe to join them together. Therefore Chur is killed because each Jew thinks that he has the correct Torah and is not able to join all thee various parts together. And they think Chur is trying to recreate the Torah in his own image, differently than Moshe who encompassed them all. They preferred the Eigel which the Ramban brings down, was part of the Merkava. That is a “part” of the unifying HaShem which they can accept. But not an in divudual, even one they recognized as one step below Moshe.
Why doe this not appear in the Torah? The Gemarra says that David asked that his sin not be written down. HaShem answers it has to, since we need to learn Teshuva from it. This is what the Gemarra says in Avoda Zara that we learn the Teshuva of an individual from David. But at the same time the Gemarra is Shabbos says that whoever says David sinned is mistaken. How do we reconcile these sources?
The Gemarra says at the end of Yoma, that someone who does Teshuva from love of HaShem the Aveiros become merits. How? If one uses the feeling of distance from HaShem as a spur to come closer then whatever creates that feeling becomes part of the Mitzvah. Ther is no greater example of that than David after he realizes his sin. Therefore even though the words of the Tanach are a sin, David causes it to metamorphsize into a merit. (There are many approaches to this Gemarra, I am suggesting one.)
Says the Sfas Emes, we must say that even though for the sin of the Eigel wee are still doing Teshuva; but for the sin of murdering Chur, Klal Yisroel immediately realized their error, did Teshuva from love, and there is no point to recounting something that is not a sin.