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Ki Tisa

Ki Tisa

When You Take a Census

The Eternal One spoke to Moses, saying: "When you take a census of the Israelite men according to their army enrollment, each shall pay the Eternal a ransom for himself on being enrolled, that no plague may come upon them through their being enrolled." - Exodus 30:11-12

  • Moses takes a census of the Israelites and collects a half-shekel from each person (30:11-16)
  • God tells Moses to construct a water basin and to prepare anointing oil and incense for the ordination of the priests. Bezalel and Oholiab, skilled artisans, are assigned to make objects for the priests and the Tabernacle. (30:17-31:11)
  • The Israelites are instructed to keep Shabbat as a sign of their covenant with God. God gives Moses the two tablets of the Pact. (31:12-18)
  • The Israelites ask Aaron to build them a Golden Calf. Moses implores God not to destroy the people and then breaks the two tablets of the Pact on which the Ten Commandments are written when he sees the idol. God punishes the Israelites by means of a plague. (32:1-35)
  • Moses goes up the mountain with a blank set of tablets for another 40 days so that God will again inscribe the Ten Commandments. Other laws, including the edict to observe the Pilgrimage Festivals, are also revealed. (34:1-28)
  • Moses comes down from the mountain with a radiant face. (34:29-35)

When do we read Ki Tisa?

2017 Mar 18 /20 Adar, 5777
2018 Mar 3 /16 Adar, 5778


  • By Beth Kalisch

    This week's Torah portion, Ki Tisainterrupts the description of the building of the Tabernacle with a long narrative section that includes the story of the Golden Calf, the smashing of the Ten Commandments, the carving of the second set of tablets, and — although perhaps less famously — the most chutzpadik (impertinent) question in the whole Torah.

    The question comes after Moses has negotiated twice with God on behalf of the Israelites: first, with moderate success, when he asks God to forgive the people for the sin of the idolatrous Golden Calf; and second, when he successfully convinces God to lead the Israelites along the next stage of their journey.

    But Moses' next negotiation with God is not on behalf of the Israelites, but for himself. Out of the blue, it seems, just as God has acceded to his second request, Moses speaks up again. "Oh, let me behold Your Presence!" he... Continue Reading

  • Torah for Tots

    "The Eternal One spoke to Moses, saying: See, I have singled out by name Bezalel, son of Uri son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah.

  • Torah for Tweens

    Parashat Ki Tisa opens innocuously enough, with a discussion of the half-shekel tax and other matters related to the Tabernacle. The drama shifts suddenly in chapter 32. While Moses lingers for forty days on Mount Sinai, the people have persuaded Aaron to fashion a golden calf in Moses' absence.

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