Table Talk: Ki Tisa
The Chess Master
One of the most famous stories about my Uncle Noach zt”l is his chess match against an international chess master. The latter had been studying in Aish HaTorah for a few weeks and was ready to leave.
My uncle challenged him to a chess game, with an agreement that if the master won, he would immediately leave yeshiva, but if Rav Noach won, the master would remain in yeshiva for another few days. Rav Noach, who barely knew how to play chess, won the match. People asked him how he could win a chess game against an internationally acclaimed master. His response was that he was playing for God and he knew that God couldn’t lose! Were Betzalel and Uri and Oholiab, the people chosen by God to supervise the construction of the Tabernacle, master craftsmen who also possessed Divine Inspiration? Or, were they simply Uncle Noach’s who worked for God and therefore could not fail in their work?
It’s In Our Blood
Moshe melted down the Golden Calf and ground it into dust. He mixed the dust with water and had each Jew drink from the water just an adulterous woman drinks the Sotah waters. The people who had sinned with the Golden Calf died when they drank the water. The people who had not sinned survived. Did the water mixed with the Golden Calf not damage their souls? Was it supposed to bring blessing as would happen to an innocent woman forced to drink the Sotah water?
What would have happened if God had given the commandment to build the Mishkan as an outlet for creative and physical drives, before Moses went up to Sinai? Would the people still have sinned? What if God had waited more than two months before calling Moshe up to Sinai?