“Ki-Tissa” means “when you take,” referring to what Israel is to do when it takes a census of all the people. Most censuses in the ancient world are used for the purposes of taxation. This census is no different, except the “tax” is not for an emperor, but for YHWH’s Tabernacle. This “innocent” start though is misleading as it will then progress from those details to the construction of the Ark of the Covenant, only to culminate in disaster when Israel worships the golden calf. In a sense it parallels the pattern we saw with Yitro, except instead of preparation of infrastructure leading to enlightenment it leads to despair and grief. Fortunately though the portion does also end on a hopeful note.
It’s one thing to be resigned to the fact that you are about to die mere moments after you finish a few speeches, but it is quite another to talk about and graphically describe all the mechanisms and infrastructure that are about to replace you. This is what Moshe does in great detail as he goes into how to set up a court system, root out corruption and a host of other legal matters. The system Moshe outlines is unlike anything the ancient or modern world has ever produced and yet if Israel must trade Moshe for that system, there seems every indication they were better off under him. However, hope will always remain so long as some in Israel realize their ultimate King is YHWH Himself.
This week Moshe brings clarity on a whole variety of legal and moral issues. Some of these include: What if a prophet tells Israel to follow pagan gods and the miracle he predicts comes true? Why does Israel have to go to total war sometimes killing every living thing in a village? What happens if the place Father Yah chooses to dwell in is far away and you cannot bring the needed livestock for a sacrifice you can only do there? And what about that odd rule that what is unkosher for you is okay to either give away to proselyte or sell to a pagan? Get some needed answers on these (or at least helpful suggestions that may point you in the right direction for your own discovery) and many other challenging matters today!
As Moshe gets into the second of his three final addresses for Israel, he tasks this current generation more intensively than ever to not make the same mistakes their fathers made and rise to heights their fathers never could, as they will enter the land and prosper “if only” they will have the wisdom to obey!
Now that Moshe has offered his introduction, it’s time to get into the heart of his overall message. This parsha of Va’etchanan gives us so many foundational aspects that go the core of his farewell address. There is an extensive refutation of idolatry that weaves its way throughout the entire section and the Ten Commandments are given to a new generation with some important differences. Chapter 6 gives of the Shema prayer in all of its glory while Moshe literally pulls out all the stops to make sure he has left no literary stone unturned for this last push to save his people from destruction.
It’s the beginning of the end for Moshe as Israel faces an uncertain future with Joshua. The first of three farewell speeches begins this week, and by the end of this very day Moshe will die. It’s one last chance to Israel to finally get the message or perish in the flames of her own arrogance. Speaking of arrogance, this is also the time the Temples were destroyed as the 9th day of the 5th month of Ab is this Sunday. Stay tuned then for special Tisha B’Av content, including new Member Q&A and special bonuses! Enjoy! Keep Reeding
However, as a special bonus, you might want to check out the brand new video teaching i did at Channel 24, a local Christian TV station. Just go to the home page and look at the FEATURED section on the upper left corner. Enjoy and we will see you here next week for Torah 101! Shalom!
In a time of year where Hollywood overwhelms us with summer blockbusters, it’s time to show the original action hero, a man so brave he saves the lives of an entire nation for all time. The weapon sent against israel was subtle enough that no scanner or device even today could have detected it but so deadly that 24,000 people died inside a few minutes and millions more would have died had not Pinchus stood up for what was right, preserving both his people and his family’s role as high priests at the same time. Forget the theater, Redbox or Netflix. The greatest action hero of them all is playing on your television right now, coming now to the parsha near you.
This story would be very funny if it wasn’t first and foremost tragic. Balak of Moab is scared of Israel. He can’t overcome them with his army and he tries this week to engage a prophet for hire, Balaam, to curse Israel. Balaam tries repeatedly to to do so and get his reward from the king only to find Father Yah standing in his way with the truth. But before Balaam can even meet the king, he has to get past a heavenly messenger and deal with the wise rebuke of his own beast of burden. Ironically, after all that effort, Israel dooms itself this week by lapsing into promiscuity and idolatry. So sin was able to do to Israel what nothing else could not. Also on Scroll to Scroll a special look into the life of Peter. Keep Reeding