Veil of Darkness: Ki Tisa 2022

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: When was the last time you wanted to hide from public view? Was it because of embarrassment, the need to be alone, or some other reason? How do you react when someone you care about tries to hide from others?

This week’s Torah portion concludes with Moses’s pattern of showing, and then hiding, his face from the Israelites after speaking with God:

The Pitch: “Whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with Him, he would leave the veil off until he came out; and when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, the Israelites would see how radiant the skin of Moses’ face was. Moses would then put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with Him.” – Exodus 34:34-35

Swing #1: “The skin of his face expresses the physical fragility of the boundary between inner and outer. Expressive of inner states, and vulnerable to external impingement, the skin betrays one’s privacy. But the teacher’s face is an integral part of the teaching experience. Thus he folds back the veil … because he desires the desire of his people to see his face at this first fully pedagogical moment.” – Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, Moses: A Human Life

Swing #2: “Moses did not use his glow when dealing with his family or personal affairs such as eating, drinking, and conversing with his family. However, when he was engaged in teaching or transmitting a message from Adonai, he did not veil his face, so the people would feel the spirituality and holiness of the message.” – Sol Scharfstein, Torah and Commentary: The Five Books of Moses

Swing #3: “The message of this verse may also be that although Moses was at pains to cover his face with the veil, this did not prevent the Israelites from looking at his face whenever he had removed the veil. It was not forbidden to look at Moses’ face seeing that Moses did not object. Moreover, God wanted the people to get a glimpse of this living light, the light which represented the idea of ‘life’ at its best.” – Or HaChaim

Late-Inning Questions: What do our commentators believe are Moses’s rationales for wearing and not wearing a veil after speaking with God? What messages does he wish to convey? Is it fair for Moses to keep the people at a distance after his divine audience? Do we deserve to know the secrets of God?

On-Deck at TBT: We’re grateful to have resumed in-person services. Please note that all attendees must wear a high-filtration mask (e.g., KF94, KN95, N95) covering their nose and mouth at all times. We look forward to seeing you in-person while maintaining safe practices.

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of hiding … it’s unconscionable that Major League Baseball is in serious risk of hiding from the public in 2022. If it indeed happens, there’s no telling how quickly most of the public will forget the sport altogether.

Shabbat Shalom!