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Parshat Ki Tisa


5760 In this week's section we read the tragic story of the sin of the Golden Calf. I once gave a lecture before a group of non-religious Israeli High School students. The big question that bothered them was could I prove to them that G-d exists. They had heard various 'proofs' of G-d's existence on the many cassettes circulating here in Israel and still were unconvinced.
5761 This weeks portion begins with a strange commandment; G-d told Moshe that each Jew was to give a half-shekel coin to ‘atone for his soul’. At first glance this doesn’t make much sense. How can giving a coin bring atonement?
5762 This week's Torah section tells us (34:28) that when Moses was on Mount Sinai to receive the Torah, he did not eat or drink for forty days and nights. There are three explanations how he did this. The Rambam, in his Guide to the Perplexed tells us that every day, G-d made a miracle. Another explanation is that Moses was so happy and enthusiastic that he simply didn't think of eating all this time. And the Midrash says that the nature of Moses' body changed and became so pure as to not need food.
5763 This week we read of how Moses convinced G-d to not destroy the Jews for their unforgivable sin of worshipping the Golden Calf.
5764 In this week's Torah reading we find the sad story of how the Jews committed idolatry at Mount Sinai with the Golden Calf 31:18 – 34:10).
5765 This week's section begins with action; Moses receives the Ten Commandment Tablets on Mount Sinai, breaks them after the sin of the Golden Calf and finally receives another pair eighty days later. But it ends on a strange note; when Moses descended with these second Tablets, rays of spiritual light shone from his face that were so intense that he had to put on a veil so as not to reveal them.
5766 This week's section, which contains the story of the sin of the Golden Calf (Egel shel Zahav), coincides with the holiday of Purim. One obvious similarity between them is that both began with Jews transgressing (in Purim; attending the feast of the king and bowing to Haman) and another is that in both G-d forgave the Jews due to the leader of their generation; first through Moses and then through Mordechi.
5767 We read this week about how Moses convinced G-d to forgive the Jews after the sin of the Golden Calf which essentially was the worst sin imaginable. (Thus ruling out the possibility that G-d could ever abandon the Jews for another people or religion. If He forgave them after the Golden Calf, He could forgive anything.)
5768 This week's Torah portion begins with the commandment of giving a 'Half Shekel' coin to the Holy Temple. And afterward it describes the sin of the Golden Calf. The Golden Calf sin was the most disastrous transgression of all time; it's the only reason that people die today.
5769 This week's Torah portion contains the most embarrassing story ever told; the Golden Calf fiasco. The Jewish people had just left polytheistic Egypt amidst miracles and wonders to become the 'Chosen People' of G-d and bring monotheism to the world: to rid the world of selfish idolatry and convey the message of G-d's goodness and Oneness and bring blessing to all mankind.
5770 This week’s Torah portion presents the most shameful, demoralizing and uninspiring story ever told; the Golden Calf episode.
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