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Ki Tisa ~ 5775 ~ כי תשא
Moshe conducts a census by counting each silver half-shekel donated by all men aged twenty and over. Moshe is commanded to make a copper laver for the Mishkan. The women donate the necessary metal. The formula of the anointing oil is specified, and G-d instructs Moshe to use this oil only for dedicating the Mishkan, its vessels, Aaron, and his sons.
G-d selects Bezalel and Oholiav as master craftsmen for the Mishkan and its vessels. The Jewish People are commanded to keep the Sabbath as an eternal sign that G-d made the world. Moshe receives the two Tablets of Testimony on which the Ten Commandments are written. The mixed multitude who left Egypt with the Jewish People panic when Moshe’s descent seems delayed, and force Aaron to make a golden calf for them to worship. Aaron stalls, trying to delay them. G-d tells Moshe to return to the people immediately, threatening to destroy everyone and build a new nation from Moshe. When Moshe sees the camp of idol-worship, he smashes the tablets and destroys the golden calf. The Levi’s sons volunteer to punish the transgressors, executing 3,000 men. Moshe ascends the mountain to pray for forgiveness for the people, and G-d accepts his prayer. Moshe sets up the Mishkan and G-d’s cloud of glory returns. Moshe asks G-d to show him the rules by which he conducts the world, but is granted only a small portion of this request.
G-d tells Moshe to hew new tablets and reveals to him the text of the prayer that will invoke Divine mercy. Idol worship, intermarriage, and the combination of milk and meat are prohibited. The laws of Pesach, the first-born, the first-fruits, Shabbat, Shavuot and Sukkot are taught. When Moshe descends with the second set of tablets, his face is luminous as a result of contact with the Divine.
MAFTIR Exodus 34: 33-35 ~ p. 368
HAFTORAH I Kings 18:1 – 18:39 ~ p. 369
During a severe drought, Elijah tells Obadiah – the royal steward who has secretly saved a hundred prophets from Jezebel’s persecution – to inform Ahad of his presence. Elijah confronts Ahad and through him challenges the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of the female goddess, Astarte, at Mount Carmel, where there is a large representative gathering of the people. The false prophets work themselves into a frenzy and gash themselves, calling in vain upon Baal to send down fire and consume the bullock they have prepared for sacrifice. Elijah then prepares his sacrifice on an altar of twelve stones corresponding to the number of the tribes of Israel, drenches it with water and utters a simple prayer to G-d. Fire consumes the sacrifice and the people, witnessing the miracle, exclaim: “The Lord, He is G-d! The Lord, He is G-d!” A thunderstorm ends the drought.
Parashah Study Questions
- The Jews were counted after Yom Kippur and again after Pesach. Both times they numbered the same amount. How can this be? Didn’t some 19-year olds turn 20 during that six month period (30:16)?
- How many ingredients comprise the incense of the Mishkan according to the Torah as compared to the oral tradition (Talmud)? What is different about Chelbena (30:24)?
- From where did the men take the earrings that they donated to make the calf (32:2,3)? Is this a defense for popular trends of today?
- Why did Aaron build the altar for the golden calf by himself (32:5)? How do you feel how about Aaron’s leadership in the making of the calf? Was he under true duress?
- Why is Purim in ADAR II when there is a leap month? Isn’t it traditional to not delay a mitzvah?