Weekly Reading Insights: 
Ki Tissa 5764



Overview of the Weekly Reading: Ki Tissa, Shabbat Para ("Red Heifer")

To be read on 20 Adar 5764 (March 13 )

Ki Tissa is the 9th Reading out of 11 in Exodus and 21sth overall, and 8th out of 54 in overall length.
Exodus 30:11- 34:35, Maftir Parah: Numbers 19:1-22;
: Ezekiel 36:16-18 (for Parah-"the Red Heifer")

Commandments to make a census in which each male over the age of 20 gave half a shekel, and to make a washstand and basin, anointing oil, and incense for the Tabernacle. Betzalel and Oholiav were chosen as the head craftsman for the construction of the Tabernacle, its contents, the priestly clothes, oil, and incense. The Jews were commanded to observe Shabbos, the day of rest. Believing Moshe’s descent overdue, the Jews asked Aharon to make them a deity. From gold the Jews gave, a calf was formed which the Jews began to worship. On the mountain, G-d told Moshe of what the Jews had done. Moshe pleaded with G-d not to annihilate them, reminding His promise to the forefathers to make the Jews a nation. Upon his descent, Moshe saw the Jews idolatrous behavior and threw down the tablets of the 10 commandments, breaking them. Then G-d, Moshe and the Levites punished offenders. G-d said that an angel would lead them in the desert, but eventually agreed to Mocha’s plea that He directly lead the Jews. G-d granted Moshe a special vision of His glory. G-d told Moshe to carve out two new tablets and return to the mountain top. Moshe recited special verses which mention G-d’s attributes of mercy. The Jews were reminded not to commit idolatry, not to make peace treaties with the nations living in Israel, to observe Passover, Shavuos and Shabbos, to dedicate first born males, animals and first fruit to G-d, that all men should appear before G-d at the Temple thrice yearly at certain times, and not to mix milk and meat. Moshe wrote down all the commandments, and G-d wrote the ten commandments on the two new tablets. When Moshe descended this time, his face was so luminous that he had to wear a veil over it.


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:21-64/Ki Tissa )

"If your outcasts have been driven out to the farthest parts of heaven, from there will the Lord your G-d gather you, and from there He will fetch you."

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:21-64/Ki Tissa )

We are therefore taught that providing for mankind is as difficult for G-d as the Splitting of the Sea ( Bereishit Rabba 97:3, 20:22), for both are subject to G-d's judgment, as mentioned in the Zohar. (Zohar II 170a)

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the Shelah, Shney Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (S:21-64/Ki Tissa )

By taking pains to demonstrate that each ingredient of the anointing oil is a manifestation of the name Elo-him, the Arizal is showing us that this essential element is the awareness that all our efforts are at best and at most in order to make ourselves and our lives receptacles and channels for G-d's blessing.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


Ki Tissa

"Half a shekel, after the shekel of the Sanctuary." (30:13)
A Jew is only "half" an entity in two senses, attaining completion and wholeness by uniting with G-d, or alternately, with another Jew. Yet these explanations are interrelated, for when a person helps his fellow Jew and unites with him, he simultaneously merits G-d's blessing and draws closer to Him at the same time.
(Likutei Sichot) (from L'Chaim #559)

This verse contains an allusion to the mitzva of tzedaka, charity, for the word shekel has the same numerical equivalent as nefesh, soul (430). This teaches that giving tzedaka has the power to effect atonement for the soul.
(Baal HaTurim) (from L'Chaim #559)


"…that is unblemished, that never had on it a yoke…" [Numbers 19:4]
When someone thinks he has already achieved spiritual perfection and has no blemishes or defects, that in itself is a clear sign that he has never taken upon himself the "yoke of heaven", a sincere commitment to consistent spiritual effort. For if he had, he would have quickly realized that it is impossible for him to be unblemished.
(Seer of Lublin [translated from Sichat HaShavuah 429])


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:21-64/Ki Tissa )

This week's portion tells about Moshe breaking the first tablets, and G-d ordering the making of the second set. What was the difference between the two sets, and how does it impact on us today? Whereas the first tablets were completely made by G-d, Moshe carved out the second set. Even though G-d later engraved the tablets, Moshe made them. The inference is that even though the first set was smashed because of the sin of the Golden Calf, Moshe, acting as our representative, was given the task of making the second tablets because the Jewish people's tshuvah (repentance) was accepted.

In his commentary, Rashi quotes the Talmud that G-d appreciated Moshe for breaking the tablets --'Yashar koach she'shavarta'-"Thank you for breaking the tablets!". He explains that the tablets were like a marriage contract between us and G-d. Breaking the tablets at the time of the Golden Calf was like breaking the engagement, so that the punishment for being unfaithful to G-d would be limited. Even still, Rashi should congratulate Moshe for saving the Jewish people, but why the praise for breaking the tablets?

When the Jewish people received the Torah, it was because G-d chose and elevated us from all the other nations. When a person feels chosen and elevated, he feels good about himself. He does not feel he is lacking anything, and this perception is not conducive to Torah learning. To learn you have to feel that you are low and lacking, that you need what you are about to study-"My soul is like dust to all".

How do you get an entire people to go from feeling elevated to feeling lowly? This is the meaning of "Thank you for breaking the tablets!" that Rashi wrote. When Moshe broke the tablets he made each and every single Jewish person feel lowly, broken hearted. And through this broken heart, he opened them up to the study of Torah without limitation for all time, making them a true vessel for the Torah they received. A narrow strait opens up to a broad avenue.

Furthermore, this is why G-d commanded Moshe to form the second tablets "for yourself" (l'cha). "For yourself" means for your own benefit. Since the destruction of the first set was due to Moshe's intuition and foresight, the forming of the second set was his reward because in the second tablets were included all of the power of the events that preceded them.

Purim and Ki Tisa always occur at the same time of the year, and these events are presently happening again. Each and every Jew is strengthened by the renewed reception of the Torah-as happened during Purim-as well as the humbling experience of the breaking of the tablets by Moshe. And through our repentance, we will be able to learn Torah in the most effective and powerful way, and thereby bring Mashiach right away.

Since my 51st birthday was on Monday, Shushan Purim, let me take the opportunity to bless each and everyone of my readers, my family, all the students, staff, friends and the contributors of Ascent, with a wonderful coming year, filled with all possible physical and spiritual blessings, and a lot of effective Torah study. Through our efforts, may we see the speedy arrival of Mashiach, and march together to the rebuilding of the third temple, now.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul Leiter

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