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This week's 10-Minute Torah (February 19, 2022): "Parashat Ki Tisa" 5782

Parashat Ki Tisa 5782 / פָּרָשַׁת כִּי תִשָּׂא

Read on 19 February 2022 / 18 Adar I 5782.

Parashat Ki Tisa is the 21st weekly Torah portion in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading.

Ki-Tisa (“When You Elevate”) opens as God tells Moses to collect a half-shekel donation from all Israelites and to anoint the Mishkan (Tabernacle), its vessels, and the priests. The Israelites worship the golden calf and Moses breaks the tablets. Moses beseeches God to forgive, and returns with a second set of tablets. [1]

Triennial year 3

1: 33:12-16 · 5 p’sukim ·

2: 33:17-23 · 7 p’sukim ·

3: 34:1-9 · 9 p’sukim ·

4: 34:10-17 · 8 p’sukim ·

5: 34:18-21 · 4 p’sukim ·

6: 34:22-26 · 5 p’sukim ·

7: 34:27-35 · 9 p’sukim ·

maf: 34:33-35 · 3 p’sukim ·

Haftarah for Ashkenazim: I Kings 18:1-39 · 39 p’sukim

Haftarah for Sephardim: I Kings 18:20-39 · 20 p’sukim

An interesting question arises from the incident of the Golden Calf regarding the flow of events in the Torah. First, Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, shows up with Moses’ wife and sons, acknowledges the Exodus and proclaims the Oneness of Hashem as the true G-d. Then, Moses ascends Mt. Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments. Moses then discusses with Israel other important commandments regarding respecting others’ properties including respect and fair treatment for indentured servants and payment for property damage. Following that are instructions for construction of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and its furniture, and clothing for the High Priest and his other priests.

Now, about three portions later, Moses is still on Mt Sinai with Hashem. The people believe that Moses is not coming back and in a fit of panic, demand an idol who will protect them and see them through to the promised land. Moses now descends with the Ten Commandments, chastises the people involved in the incident and then returns back up the mountain. 3000 people are killed who engaged in idol worship.

The question arises: Since the people had not yet received the Ten Commandments and especially the second which prohibits idols and other gods, why were they punished? By the way, there is also the issue that it would definitely appear that events discussed in Torah don’t necessarily follow a chronological pattern.

A possible answer might start to be found in Exo 32:8 in which Hashem states that “They have been quick to turn aside from the way (“commandments”/tzivitim) that I enjoined upon them”…. What commandments are those?

Consider that Abraham made a covenant with G-d. Since then, we Hebrews have been commanded to accept that covenant by the Brit Meilah or circumcision. So yes, there had been an arrangement is place for about 350 years already. Consider also that the Israelites (descendants of Jacob) were given commandments on observing the Pesach offering, a sign of freedom and yet another agreement with Hashem that is to be observed for all future generations.

So, yes, there was that relationship between Israel and Hashem already in place. Consider that these commandments that Israel receives in the Wilderness is an exposition and clarification on what is technically already in place. Therefore, the punishment of the Golden Calf is justified.

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