Parshas Ki Sisa
Keeping the Holy Holy!
By Rabbi Label Lam
The Children of Israel shall keep the Shabbos, to make the Shabbos an
eternal covenant for their generations. Between Me and the Children of
Israel it is a sign forever that in a six-day period HASHEM made heaven
and earth and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed. (Shemos
To make the Shabbos: Isnt the Mitzvah of Shabbos accomplished by sitting
and not doing and refraining from creative activity? If so what is the
meaning of the expression to make the Shabbos? Rabbi Elazar Ben Parta
says; All who properly keep the Shabbos are considered as if they made
the Shabbos. (Mechilta)
I make more money when I am asleep than when I am awake. (Warren Buffet)
If it aint broke, dont fix it! (Conventional Wisdom)
How is it that one is considered to have made something by merely
refraining from destroying it? Why is the subject of Shabbos an immediate
prelude to the Sin of the Golden Calf?
It is troublesome to consider how any part of the Jewish People was
involved with an idolatrous act only 40 days after the presentation
of The 10 Commandments. They had just heard the declaration, "You shall
have no other gods before me." Just 43 days prior to that the sea had
split and even the smallest nursing child, we are told, was able to lift
his head, point, and say, This is my G-d and I will glorify Him. How
could the impact of such grandiose events have evaporated from the psyche
of a people so quickly?
Reb Chaim Shmuelevitz ztl. explains that the prophetic encounters that the
entire Nation of Israel experienced at that time was akin to a gift. There
is a difference of valuation when something is earned with years of hard
work and self-sacrifice and when something is granted to a person with
minimal effort. Things that come to us with ease are more likely to be
lost with ease.
It is not uncommon for winners of the lottery to squander their wealth and
those who inherit family businesses are more at risk to fumble all that
was gained through the agony of their parents. Unfortunately, as earth
shattering as those events were they didnt make a deep and a long enough
lasting impression to forestall the possibility of even immediate failure.
Our sages tell us that the creation of the cure always predates the
introduction of the disease. In that spirit we can understand, perhaps,
why the flag of Shabbos is waved before the account of the Golden Calf.
The effort that allows one to maintain a gift is gained by the hard work
of appreciation just as the sweat equity invested prior to earning
something helps secure its value in the mind of the recipient.
The job for all time then, to remedy that error, is to practice receiving
a great and holy gift. As with a priceless work of art, we are well
advised to protect its integrity. Dont disturb it! Dont fix it! Let it
be! Appreciate it! We are asked to stand back and behold the awe and
majesty of the day of Shabbos! It comes already assembled.
Sure we can enhance Shabbos with some fine foods and fresh garments but
the biggest benefit is to be gained by not disturbing its already pristine
state of purity! In that way Shabbos may be seen as a cure for the root
problem of the Golden Calf. In weekly installments, for all time,
through the discipline of guarding Shabbos, we are meant to gradually
master the fine art of keeping the holy holy!
Text Copyright © 2004 Rabbi Label Lam and