Parshas Ki Sisa
The Golden Thread of Our Existence
By Rabbi Label Lam
The Children of Israel shall observe the Shabbos, to make the Shabbos
an eternal covenant for their generations. (Shemos 31:16)
What is meant by “for their generations”? Rebbi says, “All who keep the
Shabbos according to its specifications, the verse speaks about them as if
they had kept every Shabbos from the time that HASHEM created His world
until the time of the revival of the dead!” (Mechilta)
It’s a gross understatement to say that Shabbos is an “important” day.
What makes some days more important than others? There are certain days
for which many other days are sacrificed. A short list would include, a
Bar Mitzvah, a wedding, Rosh HaShana.
When we examine a few of the examples mentioned above we discover that
those single days for which so much has been invested are not single days
at all. They hold much more that meets the casual eye. A Bar Mitzvah boy-
man is suiting himself up for manhood. He is effectively accepting upon
himself a lifetime of responsibility at those magic moments. The
foundation for the building of his life is being poured. The steadiness
his entire structure rests upon the firmness of his commitment that day.
So we dress it up and highlight its importance so it should not go by
underutilized. The same holds true of a wedding in a more obvious way.
Similarly, the entire year and its events are scripted on Rosh HaShana
much as DNA hold the code for all living organisms. These are not ordinary
At a Bris in Jerusalem a guest Rabbi stood up to speak and wish well to
the grandfather of the new born on the occasion of his first grand-
child, “Mazel Tov today you are a human being!” Everyone was stunned.
Maybe there is some hidden insult implied here. Until now he wasn’t human?
Then he went on to explain that in the animal kingdom it is common to find
creatures that have an instinct to protect its young cub, kitten,
fledgling you name it. However, only by humans does a grandparent
demonstrate love and care for his or her grandchild. This is symptomatic
of real soulfulness to see one’s self in a grander historical or familial
context and to care for the opinion of grandparents or grandchildren.
A great Rabbi, a well-known personality remarked almost sardonically that
his main goal at this later stage of his life was to impress his
grandchildren. Then he added a caveat when the chuckle of laughter
quieted, “I’m not kidding!” One grandmother commented with an uncommon
frankness about her feelings of extra love and adoration for her Shomer
Shabbos grandchildren over and above her other biological
grandchildren, “When I see these children I see the whole past and the
whole future! When I see those, I don’t see the past and I don’t see the
To be Shomer Shabbos explains the Ohr HaChaim is to wait and anticipate
when it will arrive, like one awaits an important guest. He learns this
from Yaakov who rebuked Yosef outwardly for revealing the dreams to his
brothers but the verse records that he privately kept the matter, and
Rashi explains that he waited with great anticipation when it will be
realized. From there we learn the definition of keeping the Shabbos! We
live for and work for, investing in Shabbos a whole week.
Shabbos, though, is not just a single day in the weekly cycle. Everything
is contained in that day, the entire past and the entire future. It can be
said that Shabbos is not less than the golden thread of our existence.
Text Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.