Fall of the Island

Kli Yakar Exodus: Ki Tisah

Fall of the Island

United we stand, divided we fall.

Aesop (620 BC – 560 BC)

No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.”

John Donne (1572 – 1631), Meditation XVII

The Children of Israel commit one of their worst national sins. They worship the Golden Calf. An idol, shortly after God Himself commands them not to worship idols. God threatens to annihilate the nascent Jewish nation. Moses argues and pleads and God relents.

The Kli Yakar explains (on Exodus 30:12) that one of the ameliorating factors was that they sinned as a nation, but they were also judged as a nation. If they would have been judged as individuals, they wouldn’t have had a chance.

As individuals, God will scrutinize each persons unique ‘balance sheet’ of good and bad, and when God takes the microscope to review our actions, we may not like the results. However, when we attach ourselves to a group, the merits of the group as a whole (assuming it’s a good group) can shield us from Divine wrath or even justice and keep us in the purview of Divine mercy.

May we attach ourselves to the right groups.

Shabbat Shalom,



To an Anonymous person in an Anonymous 12-step program. It is a world I knew nothing about, and apparently their unity is not only their strength, but their redemption.

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