Note: The Shabbos Torah Reading is divided into 7 sections. Each section is called an Aliya [literally: Go up] since for each Aliya, one person “goes up” to make a bracha [blessing] on the Torah Reading.
1st Aliya: This first Aliya concludes the details of the Mishkan’s construction. The Bnai Yisroel are commanded to give the half Shekel toward a national census and the purchasing of the public offerings. The copper washstand, the Kiyor, is described along with the ingredients and laws of the anointing oil and the Ketores – the incense. Betzallel, the grandson of Chur and great-grandson of Miriam, is identified as the chief artisan and architect of the Mishkan. (Note: he was only 13 yr. old!) The Mitzvah of Shabbos is commanded. Its juxtaposition to the details of the Mishkan provides the Gemara with the source for determining the 39 categories of Melacha prohibited on Shabbos.
2nd Aliya: The story of the Golden Calf is told. Moshe ascended Sinai on the morning of Sivan 7, and remained 40 days and nights. The 7th didn’t start with a night, so it wasn’t included in the total of 40. The Jews mistakenly assumed that it was to be included and expected Moshe back on the morning of Tamuz 16. Instead, he returned the morning of Tamuz 17. By midday of the 16th, the Jews were already desperate. Chur attempts to reason with them and is killed. They approach Aharon who attempts to redirect their terror which results in the Golden Calf. Moshe appears the next morning, breaks the Luchos, marshals the tribe of Levi, and 3000 people are killed. Moshe demands Hashem’s forgiveness for the people, but moves the Ohel Moed out from the midst of the camp. Yehoshua is proclaimed the main student of Moshe.
3rd & 4th Aliyot: Moshe requests to understand Hashem’s system of justice. He is granted a greater understanding of Hashem than any other person in history, but is denied the ability to comprehend divine justice.
5th Aliya: Moshe is instructed to cut two new Luchos and ascend Sinai. Moshe is taught the secret formula for Teshuva (the Thirteen Names of G-d as He Manifests His Mercy) (34:6) and G-d forgives the Bnai Yisroel.
6th Aliya: Hashem establishes a new covenant with the people. He forewarns them against the influences of assimilation and intermarriage and forbids them to make any treaties with the inhabitants of Canaan. The holidays of Pesach, Shevout, and Succos are reviewed, as well as Shabbos and the basic law of Kashrus.
7th Aliya: Moshe remains on Sinai another 40 days and nights and returns on Yom Kippur carrying the second Luchos. The people see that the very being of Moshe had been transformed and that his face radiated with a inner light. Moshe fashions for himself a veil that he would wear at all times, except when receiving a prophecy and when transmitting the word of G-d to the people.
Haftorah Ki Sisa
Melochim I – 18:1
This week’s Haftorah relates the famous story of Eliyahu on Mt. Carmel. Around the year 3021 – 740 b.c.e. King Achav and his wife Ezevel ruled the 10 Tribes with an iron fist advancing the worship of idols throughout the kingdom. Eliyahu, the fearless servant of G-d, challenged Achav’s hold on the people by demanding a showdown on Mt. Carmel between himself and the false prophets of the Baal. The scene is one of the more spectacular events recorded in the Navi. Eliyahu, displayed absolute trust in Hashem and challenged the false prophets of the Baal to a public refutation. In the end, just as Moshe’s return proved the falsehood of the Golden Calf, so too, Eliyahu proved the falsehood of the belief in the Baal. Parsha Summary, Copyright © 2016 by Rabbi Aron Tendler and Torah.org.
Rabbi Tendler is also the author of the Rabbis-Notebook class.
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