There is a commandment given to Israel that once every 7 years, during the Festival of Sukkot, they should assemble ALL the people to hear the Torah read to them. (Deuteronomy 31:10-12). Chazal (a Hebrew acronym that means, “our sages of blessed memory”) instituted a continuous cycle of reading the Torah. They defined weekly sections so that Jews would be reading and hearing Torah every single week and complete the 5 Books of Moses in a set time. The teachers I learned under taught me to follow the yearly Torah cycle and I discovered that Chabad divides their Torah study into daily aliyot. When the Torah portion is read in its entirety on Shabbat in the synagogue, there are seven sections, seven aliyot. The Chabad tradition is to study one aliyah each day, starting Sunday and going through to Shabbat. One who does this can get a double dose of the same Torah Portion each week.
Additionally, the Ashkenazic and Sepharidc, that is Eastern European and Spanish or Iberian Peninsula communities sometime differ on how they divide the Torah Portions.
It’s time to explore Torah Portion Ki Tisa, aliyah by aliyah.
Ki Tisa Exodus 30:11-34:45
Aliyah 1 – Exodus 30:11-31:17
Exodus 30:11-12 HaShem said to Moshe, 12 “When you take a census of the people of Isra’el and register them, each, upon registration, is to pay a ransom for his life to HaShem, to avoid any breakout of plague among them during the time of the census.
Is this because all Men sin? Does the ransom have to do with sin or the fact that HaShem, bought Israel with the death of so many Egyptians?
Exodus 30:13 Everyone subject to the census is to pay as an offering to HaShem half a shekel [one-fifth of an ounce of silver]— by the standard of the sanctuary shekel (a shekel equals twenty gerahs).
So only some people are subject to the census, so even from a cosmic perspective, there are differences between people.
Exodus 30:14 Everyone over twenty years of age who is subject to the census is to give this offering to HaShem —
Only adults had to pay, there is one more distinction then, adults from children.
Exodus 30:15 the rich is not to give more or the poor less than the half-shekel when giving HaShem’s offering to atone for your lives.
There is a universal ascpect to this specific commnadment, all those in this cohort had the same obligation.
Exodus 30:16 You are to take the atonement money from the people of Isra’el and use it for the service in the tent of meeting, so that it will be a reminder of the people of Isra’el before HaShem to atone for your lives.”
I have heard it said that only blood can make atonement. Is that true? Doesn’t this passage make it sounds like the half-shekel is granting atonement?
17 HaShem said to Moshe, 18 “You are to make a basin of bronze, with a base of bronze, for washing. Place it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it. 19 Aharon and his sons will wash their hands and feet there 20 when they enter the tent of meeting — they are to wash with water, so that they won’t die. Also when they approach the altar to minister by burning an offering for HaShem, 21 they are to wash their hands and feet, so that they won’t die. This is to be a perpetual law for them through all their generations.”
So the shedding of blood and the burning of flesh is not enough? HaShem asks that the Cohenim also wash themselves before approaching the tent. What does that mean? What more needs to be cleansed?
26 Use it to anoint the tent of meeting, the ark for the testimony, 27 the table and all its utensils, the menorah and all its utensils, the incense altar, 28 the altar for burnt offerings and all its utensils, and the basin with its base. 29 You are to consecrate them — they will be especially holy, and whatever touches them will be holy. 30 Then you are to anoint Aharon and his sons — you are to consecrate them to serve me in the office of cohen.
Earlier there was an order to consecrate Aharon and his sons and the instruments with blood. Now oil is need to consecrate as well? Why is that?
31 “Tell the people of Isra’el, ‘This is to be a holy anointing oil for me through all your generations. 32 It is not to be used for anointing a person’s body; and you are not to make any like it, with the same composition of ingredients — it is holy, and you are to treat it as holy. 33 Whoever makes any like it or uses it on any unauthorized person is to be cut off from his people.’”
Some things are only appropriate in certain contexts. There is a specific way HaShem wants to be loved and shown care
34 HaShem said to Moshe, “Take aromatic plant substances — balsam resin, sweet onycha root and bitter galbanum gum — these spices along with frankincense, all in equal quantities; 35 and make incense, blended and perfumed as would an expert perfume-maker, salted, pure and holy. 36 You are to grind up some of it very finely and put it in front of the testimony in the tent of meeting where I will meet with you; you are to regard it as especially holy. 37 You are not to make for your own use any incense like it, with the same composition of ingredients — you are to treat it as holy, for HaShem. 38 Whoever makes up any like it to use as perfume is to be cut off from his people.”
This reminds me of intamacy within a marriage. The physical act isn’t evil or good, but it needs to be contained within a certain context which makes it good and beauiful.
1 HaShem said to Moshe, 2 “I have singled out B’tzal’el the son of Uri the son of Hur, of the tribe of Y’hudah. 3 I have filled him with the Spirit of G-d — with wisdom, understanding and knowledge concerning every kind of artisanry. 4 He is a master of design in gold, silver, bronze, 5 cutting precious stones to be set, woodcarving and every other craft.
How amazing would it be to be suddenly gifted by HaShem to do something you have never done before? This reminds me of a line from a certain movie “I know Kung-fu.”
6 “I have also appointed as his assistant Oholi’av the son of Achisamakh, of the tribe of Dan. Moreover, I have endowed all the craftsmen with the wisdom to make everything I have ordered you — 7 the tent of meeting, the ark for the testimony, the ark-cover above it, all the furnishings of the tent, 8 the table and its utensils, the pure menorah and all its utensils, the incense altar, 9 the altar for burnt offerings and all its utensils, the basin and its base, 10 the garments for officiating, the holy garments for Aharon the cohen and the garments for his sons, so that they can serve in the office of cohen, 11 the anointing oil and the incense of aromatic spices for the Holy Place: they are to make everything just as I have ordered you.”
HaShem doesn’t work through a single individual alone. Community and cooperation are instrumental to HaShem’s plans and purposes.
12 HaShem said to Moshe, 13 “Tell the people of Isra’el, ‘You are to observe my Shabbats; for this is a sign between me and you through all your generations; so that you will know that I am HaShem, who sets you apart for me. 14 Therefore you are to keep my Shabbat, because it is set apart for you. Everyone who treats it as ordinary must be put to death; for whoever does any work on it is to be cut off from his people. 15 On six days work will get done; but the seventh day is Shabbat, for complete rest, set apart for HaShem. Whoever does any work on the day of Shabbat must be put to death. 16 The people of Isra’el are to keep the Shabbat, to observe Shabbat through all their generations as a perpetual covenant. 17 It is a sign between me and the people of Isra’el forever; for in six days HaShem made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day he stopped working and rested.’”
The commandment of Shabbat was just given and it is being reiterated here in juxtaposition to these most recent instructions for the contsruction and service of the Tabernacle.
Aliyah 2 – Exodus 31:18-33:11
Exodus 32:24 I answered them, ‘Anyone with gold, strip it off!’ So they gave it to me. I threw it in the fire, and out came this calf!”
Is this a lie? Is this an error? It seems to conflict with EXO 32:4
Aliyah 3 – Exodus 33:12-16
Exodus 33:13 Now, please, if it is really the case that I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways; so that I will understand you and continue finding favor in your sight. Moreover, keep on seeing this nation as your people.”
The CHUTZPAH! While the Torah teaches the Man should fear and revere HaShem, it also shows that a holy man like Moshe, someone so close to the Almighty, can come before him and speak strongly. He models a direct, intimate style of conversation that HaShem responds to favorably.
Aliyah 4 – Exodus 33:17-23
Exodus 33:23 Then I will remove my hand, and you will see my back, but my face is not to be seen.”
There is some dimension of HaShem that is unknowable to Man. That is awe-inspiring.
Aliyah 5 – Exodus 34:1-9
Exodus 34:1 HaShem said to Moshe, “Cut yourself two tablets of stone like the first ones; and I will inscribe on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke.
Our actions have consequences. Even our good actions and we have to deal with them.
Aliyah 6 – Exodus 34:10-26
Exodus 34:12 Be careful not to make a covenant with the people living in the land where you are going, so that they won’t become a snare within your own borders.
The 7 Nations in Israel were to be utterly destroyed because of their great sin. Sin can be contagious and Israel was to stay far from it.
Aliyah 7 – Exodus 34:27-45
Exodus 34:27 HaShem said to Moshe, “Write these words down, because they are the terms of the covenant I have made with you and with Isra’el.”
Was this something new? Moshe was already up on the mountain for 40 days and nights, had he not gotten the “terms of the covenant then? If not, why and when was it going to happen?
Before I go, I want to answer questions raised at the beginning of this session. These are my opinions, based on my time studying under various teachers and while I try to set aside any commentaries while examining each aliyah, I will allow myself to bring some back in for this section. I will disclose where I am getting these ideas where relevant.
Listen to hear my answers at 13:00 minutes into the audio above.
Please comment to add you answers.
- Can silver buy atonement?
2. Why did the Cohenim need to wash before going to the tent?
3. Why are blood and oil both used for consecration?
That concludes my journey through Mishpatim for the year 5782.
I hope these words have been a blessing to you.
May our Heavenly Father give you peace and joy.
This is Matthew and I am Walking In Liberty.