Ki Tissa

Parashat Ki Tissa is a doozy!  It is long and it is packed. We have instructions about a census, further instructions about the Mishkan, we meet the chief artisan, Bezalel, renewed instructions about keeping Shabbat, Moses receives the Two Tablets from God, The Goden Calf, God’s anger, Moses pleading for the people, Moses descends from Sinai – sees the people dancing around the Golden Calf and he gets so angry he smashes the tablets, he returns to ask God what to do with these people, Moses pleads to see God, limits are set as to what Moses can actually see, God then tells Moses to carve two replacement tablets, God reveals God’s Thirteen Attributes, God issues further commands and renews the covenant, and then we read, finally about the radiance of Moses’ face – radiant from proximity with God.

Where to begin?

I often think of this parashah as the text that tells us we can always start again, that if Moses and God could start over, with a second chance, then surely I can begin again as well. It is the parashah of mistakes, of anger, of challenge, of forgiveness, of passionate and demanding love.

And it is confusing because didn’t we already read about the Tablets and Sinai a while ago? This is the full story telling aspect of Torah, where we circle around again and again, providing different details on multiple fronts, embedding initial understandings with more detail – infill, if you will. This period of time when God and Moses and the people Israel are all figuring out their relationships with each other is chaotic and brilliant, terrifying in magnitude and filled with minutiae to help us understand what was, what is, and what will be.

We learned a few weeks ago about asking, “Where are you?” Ki Tisa is a series of chapters that pulls us into the question of where – not of place, but of soul, of relationship. Our where is our who; we are becoming a people and it is ruach, a veritable whirlwind of God meeting us where we are.

With love,Rabbi Lynn