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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And the Lord renounced the punishment planned for the people.

Moses left Mount Sinai with the two stone Tablets of Testimony in his hands. On these Tablets, written on both their sides, was the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God.

As soon as Moses saw the calf and the dancing, his anger flared. He cast the Tablets out of his hands and shattered them. Then Moses took the calf, burnt it with fire, ground it to powder, threw it upon the water and made the children of Israel drink it.

Moses confronted Aaron, “What did these people do to you that you permitted such a great sin?”

“Do not be angry,” Aaron answered. “You know the people are predisposed toward evil. They said to me, ‘Make us a god, which shall go before us, for we know not what has become of Moses, who brought us out of the land of Egypt.’ So I told them to bring me their gold jewelry and I cast it in the fire and out came this calf.”

Moses saw the people were out of control, since Aaron had let them get out of control. So Moses stood outside the camp gate and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come here!” Inside the camp some three thousand people were then killed.

The next day, Moses said to the people, “You have sinned a great sin. Now I will go to God and try to make atonement.”

Moses went to God and said, “If you cannot give the people forgiveness, then blot me out from Your book which You have written.”

God responded, “Whoever has sinned against Me, him I will blot out from My book! But when I remember their sin, on that day, there will be a reckoning.” Then God sent a plague upon the people.

“Now go, Moses, and take the people to the land flowing with milk and honey, as I swore to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I will send an Angel before you and drive out the native peoples. But I will not go in your midst, since you are a stiff-necked people, lest I destroy you on the way.”

When the people heard this harsh warning, they mourned and no one put on their fine jewelry.

Moses erected the Tent of Meeting outside the camp. Whoever sought God would go out to the Tent of Meeting.

Moses in the Tent

Whenever Moses went to the Tent, all the people would watch as a pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the Tent while the Lord spoke with Moses. When the people saw this pillar of cloud, all the people stood and worshipped God.

“Oh, God,” Moses said in the Tent of Meeting, “let me behold Your Presence.”

God answered, “I have singled you out by Name. I will make all My goodness pass before you. I will be gracious to those to whom I will be gracious and show compassion to those to whom I will show compassion. But you cannot see My face, for no human may see Me and live. But stand on the rock and when My glory passes by, you shall see My back, but My face may not be seen.”

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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.