Shabbat Shalom! – Ki Tisa

Image: Stylized image of a golden cow (Kaz/pixabay)

This week’s Torah portion is full of drama. God commands a tax of a half-shekel, based on the census. This will go for upkeep of the Tabernacle [Mishkan]. We meet a central character of the wilderness years, Betzalel, who will be the general contractor and chief artist for the Mishkan.

God gives two stone tablets to Moses, who carries them down Sinai, only to find that in his absence, the Israelites have panicked and build a calf-idol of gold. (There is a great midrash on this story about what happened when the men asked the women of Israel for their golden earrings.) The Golden Calf story ends in disaster, of course. Moses shatters the tablets and the people who messed around with idolatry get a terrible punishment. The aftermath of these events leaves Moses with rays of light coming from his head, rays that a later generation of Biblical scholars will mistranslate as “horns.”

Some excellent divrei Torah on this portion:

Courage, Convictions, and Leadership by Rabbi Dan Levin

Go Down, Moses! by Rabbi Andrea Steinberger

Half a Sheqel by Rabbi Jordan Parr

Inspiration by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat

A Call for Calf Control by Rabbi Stephen Fuchs

True Believers Inflame by Rabbi Nina Mizrahi

Theological Revisionism by Rabbi Amy Scheinerman

Published by


Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

One thought on “Shabbat Shalom! – Ki Tisa”

  1. Thank you, Rabbi Adar, for including my comment, “Calf Control” among the divrei Torah you shared with your readers on this week’s Torah portion. “Ki’Tisa!” I am honored, , and I hope your readers find meaningful guidance in those thoughts. Shabbat Shalom!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: