Ki Tissa 5774

Posted on March 4, 2014

Ki Tissa

By Andrew Goldwasser

Shabbat Shalom Hagalil,

Let’s not dilly dally with an introductory paragraph for this dvar torah. We live in a world where information is wanted ASAP within the form of a text message, tweet, or even an instagramed photo. So, why not delve straight into this week’s portion head-on?

In the upcoming week, we read from parshat Ki Tisa, or “when you take” as defined by the Etz Chayim, which begins with the counting of the Israelites in a census. This jam-packed portion continues to delve into the creations of a copper washing station and anointing oil for the Ohel Moed, or tent of meeting. It also discusses keeping the Sabbath, a very important mitzvah, but a far larger event happens within the confines of this text. The famous golden calf is created in the midst of this parsha while Moshe is atop Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments. While our protagonist Moshe is speaking with hashem for 40 days and 40 nights, the people of Israel are losing their patience and seek out Aaron, Moshe’s brother for guidance. He collects and melts down gold from the people and molds a calf to which the people sacrificed and danced.

Hashem told Moshe what the people of Israel had done, the people he had brought out of slavery in Egypt. So, Moshe took the two tablets containing the Ten Commandments and rushed down to see what had happened in his absence, only to find chaos among the people. The people of Israel had not waited for Moshe because they were impatient. Like in the parsha, patience is not always found in modern times.

In a society where technology is rapidly evolving, we tend to become absorbed in our small handheld devices, rather than the people around us. With the advent of the internet, knowledge is at the tips of our finger. Wikipedia, Google, Facebook, and all other popular social media sites allow each of us to explore everything about anyone, anything, and any place at any time of our choosing. Fifty years, no… fifteen years ago, this kind of technology was still being fantasized! As we plow through day to day life, immediacy is always wanted: like when we have a terrible Wi-Fi connection and we switch to mobile 4G to scroll through twitter faster or when dinner doesn’t thaw in time so, we stick it into the microwave. We live in the age of computers, cars, and credit cards, an age where we can have anything that we could ever want instantly, but we need to slow down every once in a while. As William Langland once wrote, “Patience is a virtue,” and modern society may have lost touch with this specific attribute, but we as Jews have a very unique way to reconnect with the slow-moving world: Shabbat.

There is no coincidence that the law to keep the Sabbath and the golden calf issue are both read in the same parsha. After the rush and hub-bub of the week, we are finally able to settle down and rest during shabbat, a time to power-down and view our world from a new perspective. There is no rush, there is no hurry, and there is nothing that we need to do on this one day to regain our patience. Shabbat allows us to reconnect with to the world without our devices. On a normal weeknight, dinner out with friends can mean sitting at a table together, but everyone is staring at their phone. On Shabbat, we laugh, listen, and marvel over the stories of the week told by our friends in person while devouring that delicious Friday night meal. On this special day, which happens to be today, we don’t have to worry about what activity comes next, all we need right now is to go with the flow of the day.

All too often, I hear that davening and going to services are the most boring parts of convention, but what would convention be without them? As one of the most integral parts of the day, I can’t imagine any USY convention without davening, whether it be here in a sanctuary, on a bus, or at some random rest stop in Virginia! With a little patience, time will fly by before you know it.

Looking at the quote, “patience is a virtue” to heart, we realize that we should live in the moment and not stress over the worries of tomorrow. Yes, havdalah is coming, a magical moment at convention, and yes, the dance tonight will be totally groovy, but have patience. I urge you to live right here right now! Today is tomorrow’s yesterday and it will never come again, so how will you make the most of it?