P arshas Ki Sisa
“And He gave to Moshe, when He finished speaking with him on Har Sinai, the two Luchos…” (Shemos 31:18)
The Gemara in Nedarim (38a) tells us that Moshe kept learning Torah and forgetting it until Hashem gave him the Torah as a gift, like a kallah to a chassan.
We say in Devarim (33:4): “Torah tzivah lanu Moshe morashah Kehillas Yaakov — the Torah that Moshe commanded us is a legacy for the Congregation of Yaakov.” The gemara in Berachos (57a) says, “Don’t pronounce the word morashah — legacy, rather morashah — engaged.”
Yeshayahu Hanavi (62:5) says, “Like the rejoicing of a chassan over his kallah, so your G-d should rejoice over you.”
We see there’s a unique correlation between the relationship of Klal Yisrael and Torah, and that of a chassan and kallah. (Rav Mechachem Nachum M’Chernobyl, Me’or Einayim)
I picked up the basket of laundry and hauled it onto the couch. Now I could put up my feet while folding, and ponder deep philosophic questions, like if a pair of socks descends into the bowels of the machine and only one emerges, are they still called a pair?
I reached for a faded green towel, its edges frayed. Holding it up to fold, I realized that the whole towel was threadbare. Time for the rag bin. But I paused. There were a lot of memories in this rag.
Macy’s one-day sale. Brand-new kallah, a spring in my step. Bright lights, giddy joy, examining thread counts, choosing colors. Hunter green and deep burgundy. Ralph Lauren towels at a fraction of the price. A matching shower curtain in greens, reds, and gold. Dreams of neat piles of linen, perfectly aligned.
Folding those towels in our tiny guest apartment the week after sheva brachos.
Taking them of the line after drying them in the hot Israeli sun. The softness gone.
Bathing three kids in a row on a short Friday afternoon. No clean towels. Grab a green one. It’s yucky, she whines.
Years later, a stack of towels waiting to be folded. Piles of laundry with no end. It’s time to throw the green towel away. What’s being thrown away with those faded dreams?
The Zohar tells us that Hashem looked at the Torah and created the world. We know that Hashem is constantly recreating the world daily. Therefore, our connection to Torah must be renewed daily as well. How?
The Toldos Yaakov Yosef comments in parshas Tazria that there’s no celebration in enjoyment that’s constant — it becomes rote.
A chassan and kallah share a unique celebration in the creation of a relationship that had never existed before.
If we approach our relationship with Torah as a new creation each day, it adds a level of excitement that did not exist before. (ibid.)
We recently did some work on our house. Along with fresh paint came new bathroom tiles, a new floor. Rushing home one afternoon, a sign in a store caught my eye. “End-of-year sale.” No time. No patience.
But perhaps fresh paint should inspire a fresh start?
Who am I kidding? The paint may be fresh but the smudges will be there tomorrow. The towels will be used to wipe sticky hands and fought over by teenagers embarrassed to take old towels to the beach. Why bother?
Yes, it was fun when it was new, but you can’t pretend there’s excitement in your 1,200th basket of laundry. Maybe men can do this in limud haTorah because they can reach down into layer after layer of Torah, creating true chiddushim.
Ninety-nine pairs of mismatched socks, ninety-nine pairs of socks, take one down, pass it around, ninety-eight pairs…
This was the aspect that Moshe kept forgetting — the concept that enjoyment must be renewed, lest it become rote. Therefore Hashem showed Moshe the parallel between a chassan and kallah. It’s only when you relate to Torah as a brand new-creation, that you will find rejuvenation and enjoyment. (ibid.)
Am I missing the point? Ignoring the messages lurking deep in the laundry basket?
There is rejuvenation in each day. Each interaction, and yes, each pair of socks, is another chance to provide for my family.
Today, 12:22 p.m., will not repeat itself. I may rewash the towels and make another supper, but the potential for chiddush never gets lost. The two go in pairs. A new day, new opportunities.