MARCH BIRTHDAYS, ANNIVERSARIES, AND SIGNIFICANT EVENTS
Mazal Tov – Mazal Bueno to all those celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or significant event during the Month of March. If we were together at Temple Kol Hamidbar, we would extend a Tallit over you, say a special prayer for you, and recite the following blessing (cf Num. 6:24-26):
- May the Eternal One bless you and protect you!
- May the Eternal One deal kindly and graciously with you!
- May the Eternal One bestow favor upon you and grant you peace!
KËIN YEHI RATZON (Let it be so!)
THE TORAH READING FOR 22 ADAR 5781 MARCH 5-6, 2021
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/ki-tisa
Ki Tisa (כִּי תִשָּׂא — When You Take a Census) – Exodus 30:11-34:35
The Eternal One spoke to Moses, saying: “When you take a census of the Israelite men according to their army enrollment, each shall pay the Eternal a ransom for himself on being enrolled, that no plague may come upon them through their being enrolled.” – Exodus 30:11-12
- Moses takes a census of the Israelites and collects a half-shekel from each person (30:11-16)
- God tells Moses to construct a water basin and to prepare anointing oil and incense for the ordination of the priests. Bezalel and Oholiab, skilled artisans, are assigned to make objects for the priests and the Tabernacle. (30:17-31:11)
- The Israelites are instructed to keep Shabbat as a sign of their covenant with God. God gives Moses the two tablets of the Pact. (31:12-18)
- The Israelites ask Aaron to build them a Golden Calf. Moses implores God not to destroy the people and then breaks the two tablets of the Pact on which the Ten Commandments are written when he sees the idol. God punishes the Israelites by means of a plague. (32:1-35)
- Moses goes up the mountain with a blank set of tablets for another 40 days so that God will again inscribe the Ten Commandments. Other laws, including the edict to observe the Pilgrimage Festivals, are also revealed. (34:1-28)
- Moses comes down from the mountain with a radiant face. (34:29-35)
Ezekiel 36:22-36 [Reform portion]
From Wikipedia.org https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ki_Tissa
On Shabbat Parah
When the parashah coincides with Shabbat Parah (the special Sabbath prior to Passover — as it does in 2021…), the haftarah is Ezekiel 36:16–38. On Shabbat Parah, the Sabbath of the red heifer, Jews read Numbers 19:1–22, which describes the rites of purification using the red heifer (parah adumah). Similarly, the haftarah in Ezekiel also describes purification. In both the special reading and the haftarah in Ezekiel, sprinkled water cleansed the Israelites.
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH
From Wikipedia.org https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ki_Tissa
Ki Tisa or Ki Tissa (כִּי תִשָּׂא — Hebrew for “when you take”) – Exodus 30:11-34:35
The parashah tells of building the Tabernacle, the incident of the Golden calf, the request of Moses for God to reveal God’s Attributes, and how Moses became radiant. [The triennial reading, Exodus 31:18-33:11, relates God giving Moses two inscribed stone tables, Aaron making a “molten golden calf” at the people’s imploring, and the people celebrating before the statue.
God tells Moses what is taking place in the camp and wants to destroy them, but Moses implores God to relent and remember the promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Moses then goes down the mountain, sees what is happening, and in a rage shatters the tablets. Moses burns the calf, grinds it to powder, strews it into water and makes the people drink.
When Moses confronts Aaron he basically denies any responsibility claiming that the people asked him, he threw their gold into the fire and out came a calf. Moses then stands at the camp gate and calls, “Whoever is for the Eternal, come here!” All the Levites rally to Moses and they kill 3,000 people. Moses asks God to forgive the Israelites or kill him, too. God insists on punishing only the sinners and does so by means of a plague.
God sends them onto the Promised Land and decides not to go in their midst for “fear of destroying them on the way”. The Israelites go into mourning over this. From this point on Moses pitches the Tent of Meeting outside of the camp where he enters to speak to God “face to face”.]
In Ancient Parallels
The parashah has parallels in these ancient sources:
Exodus chapter 31
Exodus chapter 33
Exodus 33:3… describe[s] the Land of Israel as a land flowing “with milk and honey.” Similarly, the Middle Egyptian (early second millennium BCE) tale of Sinuhe Palestine described the Land of Israel or, as the Egyptian tale called it, the land of Yaa: “It was a good land called Yaa. Figs were in it and grapes. It had more wine than water. Abundant was its honey, plentiful its oil. All kind of fruit were on its trees. Barley was there and emmer, and no end of cattle of all kinds.”
REFLECTION – The Golden Calf and Red Heifer
Likely most have seen photos of the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Florida. In some, smiling men and women are standing by a commissioned “made in China gold fiberglass statue of Donald Trump” which is dressed in symbols of modern USA culture. In other photos the stage is shown which resembles a well-known Nazi insignia. The robot in “Lost In Space” comes to mind: “Danger, Will Robinson!”
Is it mere coincidence or synchronicity that this week’s Parsha including the Golden Calf incident and Shabbat Parah about the Red Heifer ritual to purify anyone defiled by contact with the dead both occur the week that CPAC ended? In my opinion, the timing could not have been more perfect. If ever we needed modern visuals of the moral outrages Moses found in the camp on his descent from the mountain, current events have provided them to us.
Due to the Golden Calf incident, the generation liberated from Egypt, except for Joshua, lose the right to enter the Promised Land. Significantly, the Tent of Meeting is moved from the center of the camp to outside of it. The message is clear: adulating or adoring anyone or anything other than the Eternal One has immediate and long-lasting consequences.
We as Jews must be aware of and point out the parallels between current events and what our religious and spiritual heritage teaches. What happened before can happen again unless we remain vigilant and do something about it now. Just as Moses called out “whoever is for the Eternal, come here”, we too are being challenged to oppose idolatry in all forms despite how attractive and enticing they may be. Using our talents and abilities, we must be the purifying red heifer. Otherwise, the results are dire.
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
FOR OUR COUNTRY p.516
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of brutality, abuse, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, violence, and war; for all those at home alone; for all those in need of physical, emotional, and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, disease, COVID-19, natural disasters, war and violence – including those who died on the assault of the US Capitol on January 6.
This coming week, the 22nd through the 28th of Adar, we lovingly remember:
Temple Kol Hamidbar Memorial Board
Father of Ida Farmer
Temple Kol Hamidbar Memorial Board
Those victims of the Shoah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year.
“Zichronam liv’rachah” – May their memories be for blessing.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
We will meet as usual at the regular times for Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, March 5, 2021. Those celebrating a special occasion this month are warmly invited to join us to receive a special blessing.
Zoom continues updating its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening:
Topic: Torah Study – Ki Tisa (triennial part) Ex 31:18-33:11
Time: Mar 5, 2021 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Mar 5, 2021 07:30 PM Arizona
To join the Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72510500854?pwd=Z3VQZWF4U1BBZytNYmh3aHFTWkFDZz09
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat!
PS – Pesach is three short weeks away. Most Reform Jews observe Pesach for seven days, as in Israel. It begins the evening of Saturday, March 27 and ends the evening of Saturday, April 3. Others observe eight days ending Sunday evening, April 4, 2021.