Photo of Rabbi Ettedgui

Parashat Ki Tisa - 5773

My friends,

This Shabbat we read Ki Tisa. It's a portion loaded with all kinds of events and commandments.

It begins with Moses told by G-d, that when a census is taken, you don't count heads by filling out forms, etc., but each adult age twenty and over gives one-half Shekel. The shekalim are counted and that's how you know the number of adults. The shekalim raised during this census are used for the upkeep of the Tabernacle, purchasing the daily offerings, etc.

The question is asked, "Why ask for just one-half a shekel - why not ask each person to give a full shekel?" Many commentators explain that there is a lesson here. No one is complete. Each of of us is only half. We need the other person to make us whole. Cooperation and collaboration are necessary to strengthen a community. It does not matter from what socio-economic level we come from. We are all in need of that second person, and that second person needs us, in order to be a community. This can be applied in all of our endeavors - on behalf of our family, our community, our people and/or country.

Other topics found in this parasha include the appointment of Bezalel and his assoiciate Aholiav to be in charge of making all the items that will be in the Tabernacle. There is also the story of the Golden Calf and more emphasis on the observance of Shabbat.

One comment regarding the Shabbat. We find in this parasha the well known passage of "VeShamru B'nai Yisrael et HaShabbat" that we use in our prayers and during the Kiddush on Shabbat.

"The Israelites shall keep the Shabbat 'to make' the Shabbat throughout the ages as a covenant for all time."

Notice that the emphasis is on 'La-assot et HaShabbat' - to make the Shabbat. It is not enough to just rest on Shabbat and think about it - you have to do something to make Shabbat special. Each one of us is commanded 'to make' the Shabbat by planning for Shabbat. By having a special meal and when we attend Shabbat services and Kiddush with our friends and community, we 'make' Shabbat.

Come and 'make' Shabbat with us.

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram