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Parashat Ki Tisa 5784 / פָּרָשַׁת כִּי תִשָּׂא

02/27/2024 01:25:38 PM


LL Giordano

✷ to be read on March 2⎮22 Adar ✷

Parashat Ki Tisa ("When you Elevate") opens as G-d tells Moshe to collect a half-shekel donation from all Israelites and to anoint the Mishkan, its vessels, and the priests. As Rabbi Scott Perlo has noted, God's instructions for anointment are rendered with a unique grammatical structure which conveys the utter singularity of the person, process, and the product involved. For R'Perlo, this sets up on opposition between mass production and holiness, one worth considering given the economic era in which we find ourselves.

After receiving these instructions for anointment, Moshe ascends Mt. Sinai once again. The people, despairing of his return, beg Aaron to make them a new god. Aaron instructs the people to remove their golden earrings so that he can create, from out of this molten material, a golden calf. As tradition has it, the women of the tribe refused to turn over their jewelry, receiving Rosh Chodesh as a reward for this act of resistance.

Moshe returns from Mt. Sinai with the Tablets of Testimony. Enraged by the Israelites reveling before their new idol, he destroys the tablets upon which G-d has inscribed his laws. Moshe begs to see G-d's visage, but is allowed no more than a view of his back. After this episode nonetheless, Moshe is fundamentally altered, his countenance now casting beams of light. For a compelling drash on this transformation, listen to Rabbi Deena Cowan on the Talmudic wisdom concerning those singular relationships that shape our ways of seeing and being in this world.

For one of my favorite secular takes on the character of Moses and the meaning of leadership, see Freud's art critical analysis "The Moses of Michelangelo."

Tue, June 18 2024 12 Sivan 5784