Weekly Reading Insights: 
Ki Tissa 5765

Overview of the Weekly Reading: Ki Tissa

To be read on 17 Adar 5765 (Feb.26)

Torah: Exodus 30:11- 34:35; Haftorah: Kings I 18:1-39 (parallels to Golden Calf episode)

Ki Tissa is the 9th Reading out of 11 in Exodus and 21st overall, and 8th out of 54 in overall length.

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:21-65/Ki Tissa)

When these two aspects of the Divine are separated, the great spiritual light which enables man to see the Divine in all aspects of his life, is darkened. Then the [merciful Divine] light is not found at all in the world.

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:21-65/Ki Tissa)

"Sweetening" means raising the consciousness of a fallen entity to that of its origin. The anointing oil served to confer the consciousness of Atzilut to the entity it onto which it was poured.

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:21-65/Ki Tissa)

When calculating the number of Shabbat days in the 6,000 years and adding the fact that the 1,000-year interval before the advent of World to Come is composed only of Shabbat days we get a total of 600,000 Shabbat days, or the same number as the number of the Jewish souls which experienced the revelation of the Divine Presence and the building of the Tabernacle. This number also equals the number of letters which make up the Torah.

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


"Each one shall give a half shekel from the holy shekel." [30:13]
The half that we were commanded to give corresponds to the holy, pure half of a Jew, his G-dly soul, an actual part of G-d Above. We still need to rectify the second half, the body, and purify it and elevate it through Torah study and good deeds.
(Rebbi Chanoch Henech of Alexander -translated from Sichat HaShaavuah #479)

The half shekel was to atone for the sin of the Golden Calf worship, which constituted a denial of and a separation from true G-dliness. The rectification is reunification, and true unity with G-d is possible only when man comes to the recognition that he himself is nothing, only a half, and that the only way he can attain wholeness is to connect to and be united with G-d.
(Likutei Sichos -translated from Sichat HaShaavuah #479)

"The Tablets were the work of G-d, and the writing was the writing of G-d." (32:16)
What was so remarkable about the Tablets, considering that the Jewish people had already heard the Ten Commandments? Rather, when the Ten Commandments were inscribed in stone, they were simultaneously engraved upon the heart of every Jew forever and ever, as it states, "Write them on the tablet of your heart." This, indeed, was truly "a work of G-d."
(Sefat Emet)

"Moses stood at the gate of the camp and said, 'Whoever is on
G-d's side, let him come to me.'And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him"
The members of the tribe of Levi were not the only Jews who refused to worship the Golden Calf. This is obvious from the fact that only 3000 people were punished. Nonetheless, when Moses declared, "Whoever is on G-d's side, let him come to me," the Levites were the only ones who responded. Only the Levites were willing to pick up their swords and wage battle against idolatry, while everyone else stood by and refused to become involved in "controversy."
(Chidushei HaRim)


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

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org


"This shall be the sacred anointing oil to Me for all generations." (Ex.30:31)

The special anointing oil was used to anoint the High Priests and the Kings of the House of David. Moshe prepared only 12 Lug (about 2 gallons) of this oil. Miraculously it was enough for all past generations and all future generations. It was still used in the second Holy Temple, and was hidden when the Holy Temple was destroyed. When Moshiach is revealed, it will be returned to us.
(Yalkut Shimoni) [Reprinted with permission from L'Chaim Magazine (www.lchaim.org).]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:21-65/Ki Tissah )

Much of this week's Torah portion deals with the sin of the golden calf. One lesson learned from this is that idol worship is the root of all sins, and no one is completely immune from it. Some people fail in more overt ways, others more subtly.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe writes that one version of modern idolatry is a person who is indeed involved in a Jewish lifestyle, but nevertheless perceives total involvement as something strange and alien (reminiscent of the Torah term for idol worship: "strange service").
Worse, because if a person allows some separation between himself and Judaism, such a perspective could cause a person to eventually descend to actual idolatry, G-d forbid.

Therefore, each person must constantly evaluate if his or her service is appropriate and complete, so that one should not suddenly arrive at a level of "strange service". Furthermore, if an "idolatrous" attitude is discovered, in oneself or in others, it must be actively combated.

What is spiritual ammunition? The opening verse: "Raise the head". This means to be more involved in studying Torah, especially the inner dimensions. The same is true for all Jews, even if they have not begun their path in Judaism yet. This is how a Jew eradicates strange service both outside and in.

Another practical lesson: Even amidst the tragic discovery of the Jews' idolatrous plunge just 40 days after the giving of the Torah, Moses did not fall apart. Moses did his utmost to plead on the Jews' behalf, even offering his life for their sake. Indeed, Moses succeeded in saving them.

Similarly, leaders in every generation found merit in our people no matter how far we strayed. This is how we must act, as well. When we go out of our way to see someone with a positive eye, we actually help transform that person's negative qualities and behavior into something positive.

Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berditchov, the most famous defender of the Jewish People, interpreted the seemingly negative verse "a nation heavy with sin", as "a nation for who sin is heavy", meaning that to Jews, sin is unattractive and inaccessible.

We must train ourselves to see others in a positive light, excusing their failings and committing ourselves to helping them. This should lead to the realization and admission that we, too, are lost, and must also have to "raise up our heads", and get back on the proper track.

All of this will hasten the Redemption, when even the righteous will do teshuva. The first tablets (as they were before they were broken) are compared to the righteous and will become connected to the second tablets (which represent the concept of teshuva). This joining will be reflected in the wondrous new explanations of the Torah the Mashiach will teach, as it says, "A new Torah will go forth from me." (Isaiah 51:4)

Regarding the verse "I will have grace on those I wish to grace, and mercy on those to whom I wish to be merciful" (Ex. 33:19), the Shelah explains that while the purpose of every challenge is to raise us to higher spiritual levels, divine kindness comes with no strings attached, as G-d says, "I will have grace on those I wish to grace."

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

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