Ki Sisa : Being Stiff-necked

I hope everybody enjoyed their Purim.


My Russian/Israeli friend stopped by completely blasted with the amount of whiskey in his system.  He came with his two oldest daughters who served as his "bodyguards," you know . . . to guard everybody else’s body from him (he’s not fat, but he’s not small).  I gave him his m’shloach manos, which consisted of a bottle of vodka and a potato (fitting for a Russian).  He didn’t give it much thought as he opened the bottle and we did several “l'chaims” together, quickly polishing it off.  This was after two whole bottles of wine.  My wife was impressed that my liver survived.  (More impressed that I was able to clean the entire place and wash the floors afterwards, with the vodka very clearly still in my head.)


After he gave everybody at the meal personalized brachos, he proceeded to fall on one of the smaller tables, breaking it apart (after he broke the now empty vodka bottle).  He then gave more brachos and made my wife and me sign a contract that we will be hosting the meal again next year and have a new baby by that time.  Several other brachos for others were added for others on to this contract, so we’re keeping it to see how well his "prophecy" turns out.


All in all, everybody had a great time.  When my eldest daughter told her class everything that happened (minus his name), they all agreed that she had the most exciting Purim.  And that’s a good thing.


Okay, on to Torah!


“And the Almighty said to Moshe, ‘I have seen this people and they are a stiff-necked people” (Shemos 32:9).


Rav Simcha Zissel of Kelm was noted, “In the previous verse we read how they made a golden calf, bowed down to it and even brought it offerings.  But in this concluding verse we see that the main fault of the people was that they were stiff-necked.  That is, they lacked the flexibility to admit that they made a mistake.  When someone is flexible, even if he makes many mistakes, he will regret them and will change.  But if a person is inflexible, when he makes a mistake, he will not repent and improve” (Chochmah Umussar I p.258).


Anybody with children, especially sons, can come to appreciate this lesson.


When a person is willing to admit that what he did was wrong, that is the first step in improving himself.  However, if he is unwilling to do even that, he will continue to live his life blaming everything on everybody else, and never finding any happiness.


With that I wish you a great Shabbos!


Michael Winner