Ki Tisa

“Parsha and Purpose” – Ki Tisa 5782 
Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s weekly insights into the parsha 

“Whatever Steps Necessary: On Mirrors, Preparation and Redemption”

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Parshat Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11 -34:35

“Whatever Steps Necessary: On Mirrors, Preparation and Redemption

Wherever you are in the world, I’m sure just like in Israel, there are signs all over the place encouraging one to wash one’s hands in order to stop the spread of COVID.

The truth is, that in the Temple, there was also a vessel that was used for the washing of one’s hands – albeit not for hygienic reasons, because that was required before one entered into the Tabernacle – but rather as a way to prepare for certain ritual activities. [Exodus 30:17-21]

In fact, this idea is also seen in our time: before the priest performs his priestly blessings (ברכת כהנים), he is involved in a ritual washing [Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 128:6].

In fact, we’re all involved in a ritual washing before we consume bread [ibid., 158:1], which highlights the significance of eating, in that it empowers us to make changes in the world; and which highlights the priest’s ability to be the conduit through which the blessings of God are given to His people.

With regard to every other device, we are told its specific size. But this laver (כיור) is the only device in the Tabernacle about whose dimensions the Torah does not specify. That is because the laver (כיור) was built with mirrors that were collected from the women, who used them in Egypt to beautify themselves, to entice their husbands, to have relationships with them, even though they were in servitude, even though they were exhausted, in order to perpetuate, to guarantee, the future of the Jewish people. [Rashi on Exodus 38:8]

And therefore this structure is not predicated on its specific size; rather, it is really the accumulation of all of the mirrors that were contributed in order to build this device that represents preparation for engagement with God.

You see, preparation for engagement with God, or for that matter, preparation for engagement with our spouses, with our children, with anything important requires preparation (הכנה), and therefore this device, this laver (כיור) was built with the mirrors from the women.

It was built as a means to remind us that to engage in something important requires a proper mindset, requires proper preparation, something that we should be asking ourselves in anything important that we do:

Are we walking into it with the proper preparation? Do we have an understanding of the true role of the laver (כיור), that was in the Tabernacle?

Shabbat Shalom.

The Breaking of the Tablets Rabbi Shlomo Brown is the Executive Director of  Midreshet Lindenbaum The breaking of the luchot, the Tablets of the Law, is one of the most dramatic events in the Torah.  The Torah ends with Moshe’s death and praises him in this manner: “And there has not arisen a prophet since …

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Shabbat Shalom: Parshat Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11-34:35) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel –“When you lift up the heads of the children of Israel to count them (in a census), let each one give an atonement offering for his soul when they are counted, so that there not be a plague in the counting of …

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“Parsha and Purpose” – Ki Tisa 5781
Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s weekly insights into the parsha 

“Hope that Emerges from Tragedy

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Parshat Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11-34:35)

Hope that Emerges from Tragedy

History teaches that out of tragedy rises strength and opportunity. 

A prime example is World War II, one of the worst disasters in history. As a son and son-in-law of survivors, our families were decimated, as well as 75 million people who were killed during that time.

Yet in the post-World War II era, new technologies that had been developed during wartime – in addition to the improvement of existing ones – flourished in various industries across the United States and the world, helping make that time period one of the best on record for productivity and economic growth. 

Another example comes from nature. 

After a fire sweeps through a forest and consumes the area’s vegetation, the forest regenerates with a high degree of regrowth. Fascinatingly, studies show that second-growth forests can look very different from what they replaced.

The common narrative is that in the aftermath of tragedy, whether man-made or natural, there is a change, often positive, within the reality of life as we’ve known it.

So there will definitely be changes as we exit this pandemic. 

There will be changes in the way we communicate, in the way that our communities and government are organized, and so much more.

It may be too early to predict with precision what those changes will be, but changes are on the way.

This idea that out of tragedy comes opportunity and hope is also seen in our Torah portion, Parshat Ki Tisa, where we read about the tragic sin of the golden calf.

The Jewish people, at the height of revelation, fall into an idolatrous stupor and fashion a golden calf (Exodus 32:1-6).

But out of the chaos and tragedy of this moment arises a new reality, one containing new opportunities for the Jewish people.

Out of the tragedy of the golden calf incident, the institution of the Mishkan and the Mikdash are born (Rashi to Exodus 31:18); the physical structure through which the Jewish people are able to communicate and engage with God in the way that they need.

And also born out of the tragedy of the golden calf is a new paradigm for the role of the Jewish people in the development of the Torah.

As a result of this change, the Torah is no longer just a written law. The Torah now also contains an oral tradition, one in which the Jewish people play an active role (Talmud, Gittin 60b on Exodus 34:27).

The Jewish people are no longer just the guardians of the Torah; they are empowered to become its parchment by becoming its living interpreters, developers  and teachers.

Parshat Ki Tisa teaches us that there is a horizon of hope for when this pandemic ends.

It reminds us that from forest fires comes new natural growth, and even from the deepest tragedy or war or pandemic comes renewed – and perhaps even improved – existence.

So, what will our post-pandemic world look like?

Much of it depends on us.

The challenge that the Jewish people faced after the golden calf – and the challenge that we face now – is to seize new opportunities and lessons we have learned in order to help improve society, better ourselves and to become more invested in the world around us.

Please God, may we succeed in this test of history.

Shabbat Shalom.

This week’s parsha has been dedicated by Eric Jankelovits in memory of Erna Jankelovits, רחל בת אריה ז״ל  an אשת חייל and a wonderful loving mother Parshat Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11 – 34:35) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel –  “Lord, Lord a God of Compassion…” (Exodus 34:6) It is difficult to imagine the profound disappointment and …

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Shabbat Shalom: Parshat Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11 – 34:35) Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel –  “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the Two Tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord” (Exodus 34:29) What is the significance …

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Shabbat Shalom: Parshat Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11 – 34:35) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel – “And God spoke unto Moses: Take unto you sweet spices, stacte [nataf ], onycha [shelet] and galbanum [helbena], these sweet spices with pure frankincense [levona], all of an equal weight.” (Exodus 30:34) One of the most unique aspects of the …

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Parshat Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11 – 34:35) Rabbi David Stav No event in the history of the Jewish People serves as a better basis for their collective indictment than the story of the Golden Calf, which is described in great detail in this week’s Torah portion, Ki Tisa. Is there anything that has not yet been said …

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Parshat Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11 – 34:35) Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel — “And God spoke unto Moses: Take sweet spices – nataf, shelet and helbena – these sweet spices with pure frankincense [levona], all of an equal weight” [Ex. 30:34]. Suddenly, I felt myself awakened during a flight by a rather startling question. Someone …

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