Torah Portion

Ki Tisa

כי תשא

Exodus 30:11-34:35
First Kings 18:1-39
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Was Elijah Permitted to Make an Offering on Mount Carmel?

Was Elijah Permitted to Make an Offering on Mount Carmel?

In a contest with the prophets of Baal, Elijah rebuilds an altar to YHWH that was on Mount Carmel and makes an offering. Later, he bemoans the destruction of other YHWH altars (1 Kgs 18–19). But doesn’t the Book of Kings clearly state that only the altar in Jerusalem was legitimate once Solomon built the Temple?

Dr.
David Glatt-Gilad
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Atoning for the Golden Calf with the Kapporet

Atoning for the Golden Calf with the Kapporet

Atop the kappōret, the ark’s cover, sat the golden cherubim, which framed the empty space (tokh) where God would speak with Moses. Drawing on the connection between the word kappōret and the root כ.פ.ר (“atone”), and noting how the golden calf episode interrupts the Tabernacle account, the rabbis suggest that the ark cover served as a means of atoning for the Israelites’ collective sin.

Dr.
Rachel Adelman
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What Was the Sin of the Golden Calf?

What Was the Sin of the Golden Calf?

Many scholars, traditional and academic, believe it was worship of another god, the first commandment in the Decalogue, but what Aaron actually claims about the calf points to a different collection of laws.

Prof.
Joel Baden
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Reading the Golden Calves of Sinai and Northern Israel in Context

Reading the Golden Calves of Sinai and Northern Israel in Context

The story of the Golden Calf overtly describes a religious sin in the wilderness generation, but aspects of the story also evoke the (later) behavior of King Jeroboam I of Israel. Ancient readers would have understood these resonances as having political ramifications.

Prof.
Frederick E. Greenspahn
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Punishing Children for the Sins of their Parents

Punishing Children for the Sins of their Parents

Ezekiel challenges the divine (in)justice of intergenerational punishment, a concept that the Talmud notes appears in the Torah itself.

Dr. Rabbi
Zev Farber
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Does YHWH Remit Punishment?

Does YHWH Remit Punishment?

As part of the selichot prayer service, the rabbis cut the biblical phrase וְנַקֵּה לֹא יְנַקֶּה “[YHWH] does not remit punishment” to read only וְנַקֵּה, which yields the opposite meaning, “[YHWH] remits punishment.” Although this edit is surprising, the rabbis are responding to a serious tension in the biblical text: Is YHWH a merciful God who pardons, or a vengeful God who will never remit punishment?

Dr. Rabbi
Zev Farber
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Moses Shatters the Tablets – in Anger

Moses Shatters the Tablets – in Anger

The Talmud has God congratulating Moses for shattering the Tablets, however, a midrash criticizes him for venting his angerquoting the verse, “Anger resides in the bosom of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9). Was his act commendable or lamentable? 

Rabbi
Uzi Weingarten
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Who Were the Levites?

Who Were the Levites?

The Torah describes the Levites as a landless Israelite tribe who inherited their position by responding to the call of their most illustrious member, Moses, to take vengeance against sinning Israelites, but this account masks a more complicated historical process.[1]

Dr
Mark Leuchter
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Yelamdeinu Rabbeinu: The Exclusivity of the Oral Law

Yelamdeinu Rabbeinu: The Exclusivity of the Oral Law

An ancient Yelamdeinu Rabbeinu homily connects the covenantal nature of the prohibition to write down the Oral Law, and recite the Written Torah orally, to a novel reading of Gen 18:17-19: God’s choice of Abraham and his descendants to be exclusive participants in God’s own mystery cult.

Dr.
Shayna Sheinfeld
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Is there a Consensus that a Census Causes a Plague?

Is there a Consensus that a Census Causes a Plague?

Census is a necessary and standard procedure for governing. Indeed, the Bible contains numerous stories of censuses that are mundane and unproblematic. Only two texts suggest otherwise: Exodus 30 and 2 Samuel 24 (=1 Chronicles 21), a census by King David.[1]

Dr.
Shira Golani
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The Prohibition of Meat and Milk: Its Origins in the Text

The Prohibition of Meat and Milk: Its Origins in the Text

A bold interpretation of the verse “do not cook a kid in its mother’s milk,” from medieval commentator Bekhor Shor (12th cent. CE) leads to an intriguing academic explanation of inner-biblical exegesis charting the development of the mitzvah. 

Dr. Rabbi
Zev Farber
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The Other Ohel Moed

The Other Ohel Moed

Tradition and critical scholars agree that Moses’ Ohel Moed (Tent of Meeting) in Exodus 33 is not the same as the Ohel Moed Tabernacle referenced in other biblical texts. But what is it? 

Dr. Rabbi
Zev Farber
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Ki Tisa

כי תשא

Exodus 30:11-34:35

וַיַּרְא הָעָם כִּי בֹשֵׁשׁ מֹשֶׁה לָרֶדֶת מִן הָהָר...

שמות לב:א

And the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain...

Exod 32:1

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Exodus

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