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Ki Tisa (Shabbat Parah) ~ 5773 ~ 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 are written the Ten Commandments. 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 he destroys the golden calf. The sons of Levi 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 Shabbat Parah Numbers 19:1-22 ~ page 652
Read on the Shabbat before Nisan, as part of the preparation to go to Jerusalem for the Passover offering. The laws of Parah Adumah recount the preparing of the potion from the ashes of the Red Heifer, the general mitzvah of the concept of ritual impurity from contact with a corpse, and the law of purifying oneself with the Parah Aduma potion. Parah is considered by some to be a Torah requirement, similar to Parashah Zachor.
HAFTORAH Shabbat Parah, Ezekiel 36:16-38 ~ page 999
During a severe drought, Elijah tells Obadiah (who secretly saved 100 prophets from Jezebel’s persecution) to inform Ahad of his presence. Elijah confronts Ahad and challenges 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the goddess Astarte at Mount Carmel. In front of the amassed crowd of people, the false prophets work themselves into a frenzy and gash themselves, calling in vain upon Baal to send down fire and consume their sacrifice. Elijah prepares his sacrifice on an altar of twelve stones, drenches it in water and utters a simple prayer to God. 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.
1. The Torah says that the counting of Israel must be made using half-shekels. How could King David in Sam. II, 24 have sinned so overtly by his census (30:13)?
2. Why is the command for making the laver placed later in the Torah than the command of making the other vessels in the Tabernacle (30:18)?
3. How can we explain verse 32:1 if the root of the word ùùá (boshaish) means “ashamed”?
4. Of all the idols and gods of Egypt, why was the “calf” chosen for Israel’s idolatry?
5. What is the relationship of “Parah Adumah” to Passover?