I Saw the Sign: Ki Tisa 2023

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: Have you ever felt that a particular moment in your life was a sign from God? If so, what gave you that impression, and did it turn out to be true?

Of all the signs God gives the Israelites in the Torah, the Sabbath is perhaps emphasized the most:

The Pitch: “Speak to the Israelite people and say: Nevertheless, you must keep My sabbaths, for this is a sign between Me and you throughout the ages, that you may know that I יהוה have consecrated you.” – Exodus 31:13

Swing #1: “Why just the Sabbath out of all the commandments? Because ‘it is a sign between me and you.’ As the sign of the Noahic covenant is the rainbow and the sign of the Abrahamic covenant is circumcision, so the sign of the Israelite covenant is the Sabbath. A sign participates in the thing that it symbolizes.” – Richard Elliott Friedman, Commentary on the Torah

Swing #2: “The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Moses: Moses, I have a good gift in My treasury, and its name is Shabbat, and I wish to give it to the Jewish people. Go and inform them. And from here Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel said: One who gives a piece of bread to a child must inform his mother.” – BT Beitzah 16a

Swing #3: “[God is saying,] Even though it was I Who commanded you to build the Tabernacle and to construct all its accessories, and it is to serve as a residence for My presence, this commandment does not override the restrictions associated with proper observance of the Sabbath. The reason is that the Sabbath is a symbol serving as a reminder of our mutual relationship. If you were to ignore this symbol by building a residence for Me on this day, there would be no point in doing so as I would not then take up residence in that Tabernacle.” – Sforno

Late-Inning Questions: According to our commentators, what does the sign of Shabbat mean? Why is it imperative to follow it? If our feelings about Shabbat were described on a street sign, what would it say?

On-Deck at TBT: We have several bins in the synagogue by the coat racks for collection of wool socks, food for the needy and items for refugees coming into our community. Please remember there are always people in need in our community. We thank you for your help.

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of signs, I was curious to see that the beginning of the World Baseball Classic is a sign of the start of spring. While I don’t know whether the event has a hold on American fans as much as other fans, I do hope it eventually becomes as meaningful as the Major League playoffs. Competing on behalf of one’s nation can bring the best out of athletes, and perhaps it will bring the best out of fans one day.

Shabbat Shalom!