14th of Adar 1, 5771
18th of February 2011
The incident of the Golden Calf challenges us to consider how we respond to tzedakah that comes from resources that were acquired unethically.
Few principles are as valued or as central to Judaism as that of tzedakah, which translated literally means "righteousness" but is usually understood as the Jewish word for "charity." And in the Torah portion Ki Tissa, the conceptual framework of giving and receiving takes center stage.
A summary of the portion
By, Nancy Reuben
God continues describing the Tabernacle to Moses; the people worship the Golden Calf, Moses pleads on their behalf, and God forgives them,
God was with Moses on Mount Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights. God had already commanded Moses how to build a Tent of Appointed Meeting for God. This Dwelling Place was a moveable holy sanctuary where the people can bring offerings to God. Priests were to wear special garments and wash before officiating in this sanctuary. Each person, rich and poor, was to donate half shekel to finance the service in the sanctuary.
A summary of the haftarah
In Parashat Ki Tissa, Moses confronts the consequences of the worship of the Golden Calf. The haftarah for Parashat Ki Tissa focuses on Elijah, and his mission to disprove the power and existence of two other foreign gods, Baal and Asherah.
Elijah was a prophet who lived in the ninth century CE, during the time that King Ahab and QueeJezebel ruled Israel. When the haftarah begins, Elijah has been hiding east of the Jordan River for three years after bringing a drought upon Israel at the beginning of his career (17:1). God commands Elijah to appear before the king, who has been searching the land for water with his servant Obadiah. Obadiah comes across Elijah and brings Ahab to meet the prophet.
Parashat Hashavua / 3
* KI TISSA *
Abraham Isaac Kook /1865–1935
was the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of the British Mandate for Palestine, the founder of the Religious Zionist Yeshiva Merkaz HaRav, Jewish thinker, Halachist, Kabbalist and a renowned Torah scholar. He is known in Hebrew as הרב אברהם יצחק הכהן קוק HaRav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook, and by the acronym הראיה (HaRaAYaH) which in English means "evidence", or simply as "HaRav." He was one of the most celebrated and influential rabbis of the 20th century.
"God said to Moses: Take fragrances such as balsam, onycha, galbanum, and pure frankincense, all of the same weight, as well as other fragrances. Make the mixture into incense, as compounded by a master perfumer, well-blended, pure and holy." (Ex. 30:34-5)
After Moses succeeded in petitioning God to forgive the Jewish people for the sin of the golden calf, he made an additional request from God: "If You are indeed pleased with me, allow me to know Your ways" (Ex. 33:12).
Moses was on top of Mount Sinai, experiencing divine revelation on a level beyond the grasp of ordinary prophets. At the foot of the mountain, however, the people began to worry. Not knowing why Moses was taking so long, not understanding how he could live without food and water for forty days, they felt abandoned and leaderless. They demanded that Aaron make them a golden calf, and they worshipped it.
One of the Torah's most enigmatic passages describes a mysterious encounter that took place after the sin of the Golden Calf. After successfully pleading for the sake of the Jewish people, Moses took advantage of that special moment of Divine grace. "Please let me have a vision of Your Glory."
After the Israelites worshipped a golden calf, God suggested to Moses that the people be replaced by Moses' own descendants:
Do not stop Me as I unleash My wrath against them and destroy them. I will then make you into a great nation." (Ex. 32:10)
Moses, however, rejected this offer. The Talmud records the argument that Moses used in defense of the Jewish people:
Master of the Universe! If a chair with three legs cannot endure Your anger, certainly a chair with only one leg will fare no better!" (Berachot 32a)
Make a copper washstand along with a copper base for it. Place it between the altar and the Communion Tent, and fill it with water for washing. Aaron and his sons must wash their hands and feet from it." (Ex. 30:18-19)
Most of the Temple vessels were made of gold and silver. Why was the kiyor, the washstand, made out of copper? Why did it require a base, and why was it placed between the altar and the sanctuary?
When appointing Betzalel and other craftsmen to construct the Tabernacle, God declared, "In the heart of all wise-hearted, I have placed wisdom" (Ex. 31:6). Why should God give wisdom to the wise — it is the fools who need it!
God commanded Moses to prepare the stone for carving out a second set of "luchot habrit" (tablets):
Carve out two tablets for yourself , just like the first ones. I will write on those tablets the same words that were on the first tablets that you broke." (Ex. 34:1)
One of the lowest points (if not the lowest point) in the history of the Jewish people occurred shortly after the Revelation at Sinai. Without Moses' leadership and guidance, the people sunk into depraved idolatry, worshipping a golden calf. Divine justice demanded that this terrible betrayal be punished severely, but Moses vigorously "pleaded before God his Lord" on their behalf. (Ex. 32:11)
Why Break the Tablets?
As he approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses was angry. He threw down the tablets that were in his hand, shattering them at the foot of the mountain." (Ex. 32:19)
Jews And Science
Judah Halevi (also Yehuda Halevi; Hebrew: יהודה הלוי; Arabic: يهوذا هاليفي; c. 1075–1141) was a Spanish Jewish physician, poet and philosopher. He was born in Spain, either in Toledo or Tudela, in 1075 or 1086, and died shortly after arriving in the Land of Israel in 1141. Halevi is considered one of the greatest Hebrew poets, celebrated both for his religious and secular poems, many of which appear in present-day liturgy. His greatest philosophical work was The Kuzari.
Convention suggests that Judah ben Shmuel HaLevi was born in Toledo, Spain in 1075. He often referred to himself as coming from Christian territory, which would point to Toledo, which was conquered by Alfonso VI from the Muslims in Halevi's childhood (1086). As a youth, he seems to have gone to Granada, the main center of Jewish literary and intellectual life at the time, where he found a mentor in Moses Ibn Ezra. Although it is often said that he studied in the academy at Lucena, there is no evidence to this effect. He did compose a short elegy on the death of Isaac Alfasi, the head of the academy. His aptitude as a poet was recognized early. He was educated in traditional Jewish scholarship, in Arabic literature, and in the Greek sciences and philosophy that were available in Arabic. As an adult he was a physician, apparently of renown, and an active participant in Jewish communal affairs. For at least part of his life he lived in Toledo and may have been connected with the court there as a physician. In Toledo he complains of being too busy with medicine to devote himself to scholarship. At other times he lived in various Muslim cities in the south.......
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