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Kee Tisah Summaries

Kee Tisah 5778-2018

“Safeguarding the Covenant”

The Torah provides a formula to safeguard Israel=s covenant with G-d: separate from the negative influences of the non-Jewish nations.

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Kee Tisah 5777-2017

“The Gift of Torah”

It is impossible for a mortal to comprehend Torah on the level of the Al-mighty. Moses, however, received a gift from G-d at Sinai, making it possible for any mortal who invests the effort, to gain an appropriate comprehension of Torah.

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Kee Tisah 5776-2016

“Moses Pleads on Behalf of the People of Israel”

It is very likely, that it is only due to the merit of Moses, who pleaded to G-d on behalf of the Jewish people that they be forgiven for the sin of the Golden Calf, that our nation has been consistently graced with G-d’s forgiveness.

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Kee Tisah 5775-2015

“Aaron, What Did This People Do To You?”

The biblical narrative seems to portray Aaron as a collaborator with the people of Israel in the sinful worship of the Golden Calf. Actually, Moses and Aaron play a very delicate balancing act of leadership in order to prevent the people from total destruction for their wayward ways.

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Kee Tisah 5774-2014

“Moses Argues with G-d to Save the Jewish People from Destruction”

Moses’ argument with G-d to forgive the people for the sin of the Golden Calf serves as a paradigm for future petitions of the Al-mighty to forgive the sins of His people.

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Kee Tisah 5773-2013

“The Vengeful G-d–Revisited”

The last of the 13 Attributes of G-d’s mercy is that G-d will not completely cleanse sinners. Is the G-d of the Hebrew Bible a “vengeful G-d”?

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Kee Tisah 5772-2012

“The Preeminence of Shabbat”

Smack in the middle of the Torah portions dealing extensively with the building of the Tabernacle, the Torah boldly exhorts the people to observe the Sabbath day. What is the relationship between Shabbat and the building of the Temple and Tabernacle?

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Kee Tisah 5771-2011

“The Thirteen Attributes of G-d’s Mercy”

After the sin of the Golden Calf, G-d forgives the people and pronounces what are known as the “13 Attributes of G-d’s Mercy.” These “13 Attributes” are considered the most exalted prayer that a Jew may utter when beseeching G-d for mercy. It is important to know the intended meanings of these fateful words.

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Kee Tisah 5770-2010

“Moses Wrestles with G-d”

When Moses descends from the mountain after spending forty days and nights with G-d, he finds the people of Israel worshiping the Golden Calf. G-d wants to destroy the people and start a new nation from Moses. Moses argues fiercely with G-d. What is the nature of the argument?

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Kee Tisah 5769-2009

“An Opportunity for Those Who Seek to Repent”

The sin of the Golden Calf was a decisive event in Jewish history. Although it is generally regarded as a permanent stain on the record of the Jewish people, underscoring their abject faithlessness, according to some opinions, the people’s sinfulness was actually Divinely orchestrated in order to provide an opening for future generations to return from sin.

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Kee Tisah 5768-2008

“Moses Shatters the Tablets”

How did Moses have the temerity to break the tablets that were written by the hand of G-d? Were his actions not an unpardonable affront to the Divine presence?

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Kee Tisah 5767-2007

“Making Each Person Count”

The Torah in parashat Ki Tisah calls upon each adult male Jew to donate a half shekel to the Tabernacle. Ostensibly, the purpose is to count the number of soldiers who were available for service in the army. However, the half shekel has many symbolic meanings that are remarkably relevant even today.

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Kee Tisah 5766-2006

“The Role of Aaron and the Golden Calf”

The biblical text of this parasha describes Aaron as an apparent collaborator with the Israelites in creating the Golden Calf. How is it that Aaron is not condemned by the Torah, and is, in fact, exonerated by most biblical commentators?

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Kee Tisah 5765-2005

“Shabbat as a Priority in Jewish Life”

In the middle of the Torah portions that deals with building the Tabernacle and the sin of the Golden Calf, the Torah unexpectedly reaffirms the sanctity of the Sabbath day. From this, our rabbis deduce that Shabbat is a foremost priority that supercedes even the building of the Tabernacle, the Mishkan. This same overriding principle profoundly impacts on Jewish life in contemporary times.

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Kee Tisah 5764-2004

“Limitless Leadership”

After the people of Israel are unfaithful to G-d and worship the Golden Calf at the foot of Mount Sinai, Moses, the paradigmatic selfless leader, stands up for his people and demands that they be forgiven. His love for Israel is total and unswerving, even to the point of making the ultimate sacrifice on their behalf. As a doting “shepherd” concerned for the needs of his flock, Moses cares for this stiff-necked nation that was recently introduced to freedom.

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Kee Tisah 5763-2003

“Reverence for Learning in Jewish Tradition”

Immediately after the sin of the Golden Calf, Moses distances himself from the sinful people. Moving his tent outside the camp, he proceeds to hold court from that location. Scripture tells us that despite the peoples’ rebelliousness, when Moses went out to his tent, the entire nation would stand at the entrance of their tents as a sign of respect. From this gesture of respect developed a whole ritual of behavior that continues to this day to reflect the reverence for learning that is the very essence of Jewish educational success.

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Kee Tisah-Purim 5762-2002

“The Story of Esther–Making Choices for Jewish Destiny”

When Esther receives the report that Mordechai is leading a great mourning and wailing, she is thrown into a panic. Some commentators regard Esther’s reaction as a personal failure on the Queen’s part to rise to the challenge. In effect, Esther respond’s to Mordechai’s appeal by saying “Do you expect me to risk my life and compromise my lofty position for the Jewish people?” Mordechai’s response to Esther strikes a sensitive chord. Despite her initial reluctance, Esther redeems herself, fulfills her mission brilliantly, and goes on to become one of the great heroic figures of Jewish history.

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Kee Tisah 5761-2001

“The Levites and the Golden Calf: Transcending One’s Own Nature”

Although there appear to be only 3000 “hard core” rebels among the people who worshiped the Golden Calf, only the tribe of Levi responded to Moses’s cry of “Whoever is to G-d, come to me!” This was due to the fact that, among the people of Israel who did not worship the Golden Calf, only the Levites reached a level of personal self-abnegation. Consequently, only the Levites were singled out to become the servants of G-d for all time, who serve as the ministers in the Tabernacle and ultimately the Temple.

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Kee Tisah 5760-2000

“The ‘Vengeful’ G-d”

The last of the so-called 13 attributes of G-d’s mercy is that G-d does not entirely cleanse sinners and that He may be vengeful. If we are expected to imitate G-d, then perhaps we should be vengeful as well?

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