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Torah portion: Ki Tissa  Ex 30:11 – 34:35

Ki Tissa is Hebrew for “When you raise” from an idiomatic expression for taking a census (raising the head). 

Summary: Moses is to take a census of the people by collecting a half shekel per person, regardless of the wealth of the person.  Rich and poor alike pay the same.    The money is to be used for the tabernacle.  YHVH instructs Moses to build a brass washing bowl for Aaron and his sons to wash their hands and feet before doing service, or to cause smoke on the altar with the animal sacrifices.  Moses is also instructed to use various spices for anointing oil to sanctify the various holy vessels in the tabernacle.   YHVH also instructs Moses how to make incense for the incense altar.  YHVH appoints Bezalel and Oholiab as the chief artisans for the tabernacle.   YHVH repeats the instructions for the Children of Israel to keep the Sabbath.  Violation of the Sabbath is a capital offense.   Moses receives the 10 Commandments on stone tables, written with the finger of Elohim.  Moses is so long in coming down from Mt  Sinai that the Children of Israel demand that Aaron (Moses’ brother) create a god to lead them.  Aaron makes a golden calf and a sacrificial altar for it.  YHVH tells Moses  that he will destroy the Children of Israel and give him another people to lead.   Moses tells YHVH to turn away his wrath, repent, and remember the covenant with the ancestors.   YHVH repents.  Joshua tells Moses that the sounds coming out of the camp are noises of war.  Moses said that it was revelry.  When Moses approaches the camp, he gets angry, smashes the stone tables with the 10 Commandments, grinds them into powder, mixes it with water, and makes the people drink it.  Moses instructs the Levites to kill the idolaters – they kill 3000 men.  YHVH instructs Moses to move forward, lead by an angel, and He will drive out those in Canaan.   When Moses goes into the tent of meeting a cloud descends and the population stands.   In a further conversation with Moses, YHVH tells him that he cannot see His face and live, but that YHVH will put Moses in the cleft of the rock and cover him, such that Moses can see His back but not his face.  YHVH tells Moses to cut two new stone tablets like the first.  YHVH also recites what are known as the 13 Attributes of G-d, which deal primarily with G-d’s mercy.   Moses then re-receives the 10 Commandments with another 10 (which may be expansions of the early versions).  Moses descends Mt. Sinai with his skin radiating horns of light.  Moses then keeps his face covered unless he speaks with G-d.