Parashat Ki Tissa: Midrash

Midrash מִדְרָשׁ

What was the consequence of the sin of the עֵגֶל (eigel, calf)?
This somewhat odd and surprising pasuk might help us understand.
וַיִּֽתְנַצְּל֧וּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל אֶת־עֶדְיָ֖ם מֵהַ֥ר חוֹרֵֽב׃
Benei Yisrael removed their jewelry from Har Horev.
Har Horev is another name for Har Sinai. Was there jewelry there? Did we hear about that back in Parashat Yitro? Not really!
The Talmud tells a story that fills in the missing information.
דָּרַשׁ רַבִּי סִימַאי: בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁהִקְדִּימוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל ״נַעֲשֶׂה״ לְ״נִשְׁמָע״ בָּאוּ שִׁשִּׁים רִבּוֹא שֶׁל מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת, לְכׇל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל קָשְׁרוּ לוֹ שְׁנֵי כְתָרִים, אֶחָד כְּנֶגֶד ״נַעֲשֶׂה״ וְאֶחָד כְּנֶגֶד ״נִשְׁמָע.״
וְכֵיוָן שֶׁחָטְאוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל, יָרְדוּ מֵאָה וְעֶשְׂרִים רִבּוֹא מַלְאֲכֵי חַבָּלָה וּפֵירְקוּם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״וַיִּתְנַצְּלוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת עֶדְיָם מֵהַר חוֹרֵב.״
…אָמַר רֵישׁ לָקִישׁ: עָתִיד הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְהַחֲזִירָן לָנוּ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״וּפְדוּיֵי ה׳ יְשֻׁבוּן וּבָאוּ צִיּוֹן בְּרִנָּה וְשִׂמְחַת עוֹלָם עַל רֹאשָׁם״ — שִׂמְחָה שֶׁמֵּעוֹלָם עַל רֹאשָׁם.
R. Simai taught: When Benei Yisrael said “na’aseh—we will do” before saying “nishma—we will hear” (Shemot 24:7), 600,000 angels came and placed two crowns on the heads of each member of Benei Yisrael. One was for “na’aseh” and one was for “nishma.”
Then when the people sinned, 1,200,000 angels of destruction came down and removed the crowns, as it says: “And Benei Yisrael removed their jewelry from Har Horev.”
…Reish Lakish said: In the future, the Holy Blessed One will return the crowns to us, as it is stated: “And the redeemed ones will return, and come with singing to Tziyon (Yerushalayim), with everlasting joy on their heads” (Yeshayahu 35:10). This means the joy they once had on their heads—their old crowns.
The crowns in this story symbolize Benei Yisrael’s spiritual accomplishment at Har Sinai. R. Simai is saying something sad: What the people gained from מַתַּן תּוֹרָה (matan Torah, the giving of the Torah), they lost with the eigel.
  • Why would a crown be a good gift for Benei Yisrael at matan Torah? What about the matan Torah experience would a crown represent?
  • What part of the matan Torah experience was lost because of the eigel? What does losing those crowns represent?
  • The midrash ends with a hopeful message. What might it be like to get these crowns back in the future? What would we have to do to get them back?