• Daily Aliya for Ki Tisa, Chamishi (5th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: G‑d tells Moshe to carve new tablets upon which G‑d will engrave the Ten Commandments. Moshe takes the new tablets up to Mt. Sinai, where G‑d reveals His glory to Moshe while proclaiming His Thirteen Attributes of Mercy.

    One can say that not only did G-d forgive the People for the Golden Calf, but He also gave them (us) the method of approaching Him in prayer. Not only are we to recite these 13 Attributes, but we must emulate as many of them as possible. “Just as He is merciful, so too must we be merciful…” In this way we will KNOW His Attributes, live by them, and not just mechanically recite them.

  • Dvar for Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11-34:35)

    Rav Aron Tendler explains that in this week’s Parsha, Ki Tisa, Moshe confronted his greatest challenge as teacher and leader of the Jewish people. His nation and children were threatened with extinction for building a golden calf to worship, and all the evidence pointed to the Chosen People’s intentional betrayal of G-d! What possible defense could he have offered on behalf of his nation?

    The Gemara in Berachot 32a explains Moshe’s strategy in defense of the Jews. Rav Tendler explains that Moshe’s argument focused on the nature of the human and how it must modify G-d’s view of justice. Moshe argued that G-d Himself must accept partial blame for what had happened. It was G-d who had created a free willed creature that was inherently flawed. It was therefore inevitable that this creation would fail at some point. As it says, “There is no such thing as a Tzaddik (righteous person) who only does good and will never sin.” Therefore, Moshe argued, “If You created humans who inevitably will sin, You must have also established a system of justice that allows these flawed creatures to learn from their mistakes. There must be the possibility of Teshuva – repentance, or else Your entire system of justice does not make any sense. G-d agreed with Moshe because of the love that He had for his nation, and thus Moshe had established “unqualified love” as the foundation for our existence. However, unqualified love does not mean that actions do not have consequences – just the opposite! Moshe himself punished the 3,000 people who were directly involved in the sin of the Golden Calf. Unqualified love means that you always do what is in the best interest of those whom you love. Punishment, if it is truly warranted and properly executed, can be the greatest expression of love. Love, on the other hand, can only be true if it’s unwarranted and absolutely unqualified.

  • Daily Aliya for Ki Tisa, Revii (4th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: G‑d’s agrees to Moshe’s request that His presence only dwell amongst the Jews. Moshe requests to be shown G‑d’s glory. G‑d agrees, but informs Moshe that he will only be shown G‑d’s “back,” not G‑d’s “face.”

    This limitation can be extended to include our daily exposure to G-d. If we were to see blatant miracles daily (such as the splitting of the sea or the giving of the Torah), it would be impossible for us to sin. So G-d shows us smaller miracles that we can label as nature, natural, or coincidence. If only we realized how many miracles happen daily for our benefit, we’d be a lot less prone to doing the wrong thing.

  • Daily Aliya for Ki Tisa, Shlishi (3rd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe asks G‑d to reconsider the matter of the angel leading them. G‑d reconsiders, and agrees to lead them Himself again. Moshe then requests that G‑d’s presence never manifest itself on any other nation other than the Jews.

    It’s fascinating that while the Jews were creating and serving the Golden Calf, Moshe was asking for a more intimate understanding of G-d. One would think that would be the worst time to ask for more, but Moshe saw it as an opportunity to seek a better understand, arguing that if we knew/understood G-d better, we would be less likely to stray, an argument still true today.

  • Daily Aliya for Ki Tisa, Sheni (2nd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: After G‑d revealed Himself to the entire nation at Mount Sinai and told them the Ten Commandments, Moshe ascended the mountain where he remained for forty days. There he was to study the Torah and receive the Tablets. The Jews miscalculate when Moshe is supposed to return, and when he doesn’t appear on the day when they anticipate him, they grow impatient and demand of Aaron to make for them a new god. Aaron cooperates, all along intending to postpone and buy time until Moshe’s return, but despite his efforts, a Golden Calf emerges from the flames. The festivities and sacrifices start early next morning. Moshe pleads with an incensed G‑d to forgive the Jews’ sin. G‑d acquiesces and relents from His plan to annihilate the Jews. Moshe comes down with the Tablets, sees the idolatrous revelry, and breaks the Tablets. Moshe enlists the Tribe of Levi to punish the primary offenders. Three thousand idol worshippers are executed on that day. Moshe ascends Mount Sinai again, in an attempt to gain complete atonement for the sin. G‑d tells Moshe to lead the Jews towards the Promised Land, but insists that He won’t be leading them personally; instead an angel will be dispatched to lead them. Seeing G‑d’s displeasure with the Jews, Moshe takes his own tent and pitches it outside the Israelite encampment. This tent becomes the center of study and spirituality until the Tabernacle is inaugurated.

    When Moshe sees the Calf, the Tablets either slip from his hands and break or he intentionally smashes them (opinions differ – interesting connotations to either opinion). He seizes the Calf, destroys it, spreads its ashes over the water, and prepares a potion for the people to drink (also interesting connotation that requires analysis).

  • Daily Aliya for Ki Tisa, Rishon (1st Aliya)

    General Overview: The Parsha discusses the census of the Israelites, the washbasin of the Tabernacle, the anointing oils for the priests and kings, the incense offering, and the Sabbath. The Torah then relates the story of the Golden Calf, G‑d’s anger at the Jewish nation, Moshe successfully arguing for Divine forgiveness for the sin, the subsequent breaking of the tablets, and the giving of the second tablets.

    Aliya Summary: G‑d commands Moshe to take a census of the Jewish adult male population by collecting an atonement offering of half a silver shekel from each individual. The collected silver was melted down, and was made into sockets for the beams of the Tabernacle. G‑d instructs Moshe to make a copper washstand for the Tabernacle. The priests would use this laver to wash their hands and feet before their service. G‑d tells Moshe the recipe for making holy “anointing oil.” This oil, which was prepared with various aromatic herbs and fine spices, was used to anoint and sanctify the Tabernacle, its vessels, and Aaron and his sons. The remainder of the oil was put aside, and was used to anoint kings and high priests of future generations. G‑d also gives Moshe the formula for the incense which was offered twice-daily in the Tabernacle. The duplication of the anointing oil or incense for personal use is prohibited. G‑d imbues Bezalel with wisdom, and appoints him to be the chief craftsman of the Tabernacle and its contents. G‑d appoints Oholiab as his assistant. This lengthy Aliya concludes with G‑d telling the Jewish people to observe the Shabbat, the eternal sign between Him and the Children of Israel.

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