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Shabbat 7 March 2015 – Parasha Ki Tisa

Shabbat comes in at 5.35pm & goes out at 8.38pm

This week’s Kiddush has been designated “Foodbank Kiddush”.  By providing only wine & challah, the funds saved will be donated to the Harrow Foodbank.

rabbipaulsml”When the people saw that Moses was so long coming down from the mountain, the people gathered against Aaron and said to him, Come make us a god who shall go before us, for that man Moses, who brought us from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him.”  (Exodus 32:1)

 A mob  “gathered” — in Hebrew, “vayakhel” — themselves to challenge Aaron to build a golden calf.  In next week’s portion we have the same verb in a different form – vayakhel.  “Moses gathered the whole community of Israel together and said to them  …”  (Exodus 35:1)  Moses first gives instructions on the laws of the Sabbath.  He then commands them to build a tabernacle, a portable tent which they will carry through the desert.  We have the same verb but an altogether different mood.  This time they are gathering for a holy purpose.

So we have two stories in the Torah, one right after the other.  Both use the same verb in different form.  The people gather themselves (the passive verb is used) together to build a Golden Calf, creating a false God.  Then the people are actively gathered together to build a holy tabernacle, fulfilling God’s will.  The fact that the same verb is used in both examples is no coincidence.  Good people coming together do not necessarily ensure good results.  The people needed the leadership of Moses to guide them to engage in worthwhile projects.   The children of Israel had to be gathered with a sense of “good” purpose and direction.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Paul Arberman
March 3, 2015