Erasure: Ki Tisa 2018

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: When have you taken a risk by showing loyalty to a person or group? What caused you to be so loyal?

Even though the Israelites angered both God and Moses by building the Golden Calf, Moses nevertheless is willing to eschew personal glory while standing by his people:

The Pitch: “‘Now, if You will forgive their sin [well and good]; but if not, erase me from the record which You have written!’” – Exodus 32:32

Swing #1: “Moses said to the Lord: ‘In either case, blot me, I pray You, out of Your book. If You are willing to forgive them if they have someone to suffer for their sins, I am willing to serve as their instrument of atonement. And if You should not be willing to forgive them, why, then, I have nothing left for which to live.” – K’lei Yakar

Swing #2: “We have not exhausted the strategies of Mosaic intercession. … It looks as if prophetic audacity has won. But this is not the case, for God answers: ‘And now, go lead this people to [the place] which I tell you …’ (Exodus 32:34).” – Yochanan Muffs, Love & Joy: Law, Language and Religion in Ancient Israel

Swing #3: “[Moses] has no purpose apart from his people. Moses is not, it should be stressed, offering to substitute for his people but rather to share their destiny. Having broken Holy Writ, he joins his sin to the people’s apostasy.” – Aaron Wildavsky, Moses as Political Leader

Late-Inning Questions: Why do you think Moses is so loyal to the Israelites? Do you find any of our commentators’ reasoning compelling? Is Moses simply a “good soldier” trying to do his job? Or do you think he also has an emotional attachment to the people, warts and all? What would you have done if you were in Moses’s sandals?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: A big thank-you and yasher koach to the Sisterhood women for another successful Sisterhood Shabbat, and to everyone who participated in our talent-filled Purim celebration. Our congregation ended February with a flourish of accomplishment, and we’re looking forward to more in March, starting with Men’s Club Shabbat tomorrow!

The Big Inning at the End: How would you manage Shohei Ohtani, the new Los Angeles Angels player who has major-league talent both as a pitcher and a hitter? Should the Angels try to maximize his diverse skills and play him every day? Or, as in the case of Babe Ruth, should his team ask him to pick one skill over another so he can excel on “one side of the ball”?

Shabbat Shalom!