Ki Tissa: A Summary of the Parashah

God continues describing the Tabernacle to Moses; the people worship the Golden Calf, Moses pleads on their behalf, and God forgives them.

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The following article is reprinted with permission from Jewish Family & Life!

God was with Moses on Mount Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights. God had already commanded Moses how to build a Tent of Appointed Meeting for God. This Dwelling Place was a moveable holy sanctuary where the people can bring offerings to God. Priests were to wear special garments and wash before officiating in this sanctuary. Each person, rich and poor, was to donate half shekel to finance the service in the sanctuary.

“As for you, Moses,” God continued, “take the finest spices and the finest olive oil and make a holy anointment. You shall anoint the Tent of Appointed Meeting, the Ark of the Testimony and all within the sanctuary. Sanctify them so that they become holy and that all who touch them become holy.

“Tell the children of Israel to keep My Sabbaths so that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you. For those who profane My Sabbath, their soul shall be cut off from among the people. Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. This shall be a perpetual covenant, a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever, for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day God ceased from work and rested.”

When God finished speaking, God gave Moses the two stone Tablets of Testimony written with the finger of God.

At this moment, the people were beginning to wonder if Moses would ever return. They gathered against Aaron saying, “Make us a god who shall go before us, for we do not know what happened to Moses.”

The Golden Calf

“Remove your gold earrings and bring them to me,” Aaron answered. And the people did. Aaron then melted the gold and molded it into a golden calf. The people exclaimed, “This is the god, O Israel, which brought us out of the land of Egypt.”

Aaron built an altar before the golden calf, proclaiming, “A festival to the Lord, tomorrow.” Early the next day, the people feasted and made offerings.

Back on Mount Sinai, the Lord said to Moses, “Go, descend, for the people brought from the land of Egypt have become corrupt. They strayed quickly. They made a molten calf and worshipped it as if it were Me. Now let Me alone so My anger may destroy them.”

But Moses pleaded with God, “Why destroy the people whom You saved? Why should the Egyptians say, God saved them with evil intent, to kill the people later? Reconsider. Remember your promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to multiply their offspring like stars of heaven and give them the promised land.”

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Nancy Reuben Greenfield

Nancy Reuben Greenfield has written three adaptations of the Torah, including an
interactive family version at, and an engaging
Jewish immigrant novel, The Golden Medina, available on itunes and Amazon.