Torah Weekly

For the week ending 18 March 2017 / 20 Adar II 5777

Parshat Ki Tisa

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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Moshe conducts a census by counting each silver half-shekel donated by all men age 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, Aharon 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 Aharon to make a golden calf for them to worship. Aharon 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 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 Succot are taught. When Moshe descends with the second set of tablets, his face is luminous as a result of contact with the Divine.


Nischt auf Shabbes Geredt

“And on the seventh day you shall desist; you shall desist from plowing and harvesting.” (34:21)

Nischt auf Shabbes geredt (Yiddish: “Not to speak of it on Shabbat”) — you know, they’ve got an amazing sale next week downtown!”

“Really! Nischt auf Shabbes geredt, when does it start?”

“Well, nischt auf Shabbes geredt, if I remember correctly, it’s on Friday, but it could be, nischt auf Shabbes geredt, on Shabbat, nischt auf Shabbes geredt.”

Shabbat is a delicate creature. She’s very easily scared away. To experience what Shabbat really can be we must push the working week away with two hands, and use those hands to embrace the Shabbat.

“If you …refrain from discussing the forbidden (on Shabbat), then you will delight in G-d” (Yeshayahu 58:13-14)

Our Sages teach that this verse teaches us that our speech on Shabbat should not be like that of the weekday. The Shulchan Aruch, the Code of Jewish Law (in Aruch Chaim 307) says that on Shabbat it is forbidden to discuss worldly matters, and that one should speak briefly even about that which is permissible.

“And on the seventh day you shall desist; you shall desist from plowing and harvesting.”

This verse hints to these two ideas: “Plowing” — charisha — hints to the forbidden speech about the mundane and the worldly. “Harvesting” — katzira — literally “cutting”, suggests that one should cut down to the minimum even conversation that is permissible on Shabbat.

And the reward: “Then you will delight in G-d.”

  • Sources: based on the Noam Megadim in Mayana shel Torah

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