Ki Tissa – March 17

If you like drama, this week’s Torah portion, Ki Tissa, is a real winner! It contains the story of the Golden Calf:  In their impatience, waiting for Moses to come down from Mt. Sinai with the commandments, the Israelites ask Aaron to create an idol for them to worship. Surprisingly, Aaron, the chief priest and brother of Moses, complies.  Moses shatters the tablets of the commandments, freshly carved with the finger of God.  He takes the Golden Calf, grinds it into powder, spreads the powder on the water, and makes the Israelites drink. Those who still do not wish to be loyal to God are killed by sword, and a plague is brought on to punish the rest. (Ex. 32) Then Moses returns to God to receive a new set of commandments.  This unforgettable passage in the Torah gives us insight into the challenge of introducing monotheism in ancient times.  It was not easily accepted, and, in fact, well into the settlement in Israel the backsliding to idol worship continued.