Tomorrow Never Flies: Vaera 2021 (2)

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: How often do you forget what day it is? Do you need to check your watch, phone, or a wall calendar to remember? Why is it sometimes so easy to forget?

As God begins to rain down plagues upon the Egyptians, Moses delivers a heads-up to Pharaoh when the next one would come about:

The Pitch: “‘And I will make a distinction between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign shall come to pass.’” – Exodus 8:19

Swing #1: “The new element which enters in the fourth plague is the setting of a distinction between the Israelites and the Egyptians. The land of Goshen is set apart and does not experience the flies. Commentators are divided as to whether the sparing of Israel from the plagues was intended from the start.” – Brevard S. Childs, The Book of Exodus

Swing #2: “Sometimes tomorrow means the next day, and sometimes it means the time to come. … But the verse ‘Tomorrow this sign shall come to pass’ actually refers to the next day.” – Midrash Tanhuma

Swing #3: “Moses announced the timing so that Pharaoh would not attribute the phenomenon to mere chance.” – Rashbam

Late-Inning Questions: Why is making a separation between the Israelites and the Egyptians so important to God? Might this have something to do with the reason God warns Pharaoh about this plague? Is God trying to tell the Israelites to take cover while the Egyptians are punished? Or is there a desire for God to appear distinct from Pharaoh? What are the best ways to make ourselves distinct?

On-Deck at Temple Beth Tzedek: Starting January 8th, our Shabbat Learner’s Service will move from monthly to weekly. We’ll continue to meet on Zoom from 9:00-9:30 am. You’re welcome to join the discussion, whether or not you’re learning for the first time.

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of distinction, many baseball fans oppose requiring the pitcher to throw a pitch within a certain number of seconds, because they take pride that baseball is a game without a clock. But I contend that modern viewers, with our shorter attention spans, will no longer tolerate games that often extend past 3½  or even four hours.

Shabbat Shalom, and Happy Secular New Year!