Parshat „Ki Tissá“ – Descend in order to ascend

As the tragedy of the golden calf unfolds amidst his people, their leader is urged to leave a most important session with G-d himself, and return to his post. We read this week:

Hashem spoke to Moshe, “Hurry down, for your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt, have acted basely” (Shemot 32, 7)

וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה לֶךְ־רֵ֕ד כִּ֚י שִׁחֵ֣ת עַמְּךָ֔ אֲשֶׁ֥ר הֶעֱלֵ֖יתָ מֵאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם׃

However, soon after, The Torah uses very similar vocabulary in the opposite way:

Then Hashem said to Moshe, Hurry up from here, you and the people that you have brought up from the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give it (Shemot 33,1)

וַיְדַבֵּ֨ר יְהֹוָ֤ה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה֙ לֵ֣ךְ עֲלֵ֣ה מִזֶּ֔ה אַתָּ֣ה וְהָעָ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר הֶֽעֱלִ֖יתָ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם אֶל-הָאָ֗רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֣ר נִ֠שְׁבַּ֠עְתִּי לְאַבְרָהָ֨ם לְיִצְחָ֤ק וּֽלְיַעֲקֹב֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר לְזַרְעֲךָ֖ אֶתְּנֶֽנָּה:

There must be some connection between these two very rare expressions. Perhaps, it is there to teach us the following: 

Moshe Rabeinu had to “go down” from his recently acquired highest spiritual level, in order to face, and then re-engage with, and “cure” the malice which had engulfed his nation. However, this “going down” has enabled him to get to the next step, receiving the instruction “Hurry up“. It was necessary for Moshe Rabeinu to have the experience of “going down” in order to lead the people all the way up again. 

This is a situation all of us will face at some stage in our lives; Either stay where we are, or take a dip down, engage in a difficult task from which we ultimately come out better or higher than we were priory. 

The idea may give us some strength, Chizuk, as we are hopefully nearing B”H the end of a long global downturn in the widest meaning of the term. We may reach higher in the post pandemic era. 

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Chaim Michael Biberfeld