Ki Tisa 5774

February 9, 2014

7 min read


Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11-34:35 )

GOOD MORNING!   What do clothes say about you? What image are you trying to project? Armies have uniforms, teens have fads, women have fashion, businesses have their standard of dress. Even the Torah has a standard of dress for both men and women which has both a rhyme and reason behind it -- a message which the Torah is teaching us about our own very essence.

Perhaps at one time or another you have noticed an Orthodox Jewish woman with her hair covered, wearing a dress that comes below the knees, below the elbows and above the collar bone? Perhaps you have wondered why they dress in such an unchanging manner while hemlines go up and down according to what is fashionable?

The Shulchan Aruch, the Code of Jewish Law, directs that men and women should comport themselves in a manner of tzniut, modesty. In speech, in action and in dress, a Jew is directed to act modestly. One source for this is from the prophet Michah (6:8), "(God) tells you, man, what He requires of you, but to do justice, love kindness and walk modestly with your God."

Why? A human being is comprised of a body and a soul. The soul is the essence, the body is the covering or the packaging. In the case of clothing, especially for women, the less clothing, the more the emphasis is on the packaging (the body) and the less it is on the essence, the soul.

The Torah recognizes that the Almighty created men in a manner that they are easily aroused by what they see. In order to balance the situation so that women will be treated with respect, the Torah forbids sexually suggestive clothing. Attractive, yes; provocative, no. As one man told me, "I am puzzled by women who dress in a manner that says 'take me' -- and then complain that men do not respect them."

A woman once replied that she dressed provocatively because she loved the power she had over men -- completely distracting them from whatever they were doing and focusing their attention on her.

Gila Manolson, an expert on feminine spirituality, writes in her excellent book, Outside, Inside, "Woman will often attempt to win a relationship by semi-consciously playing to a man's tendency to regard her physically. This can spell disaster for a woman. Most tragically, a woman who accustoms herself to 'getting' a man this way is going to internalize an increasingly shallow self-image, to the point where she may lose sight entirely of what she really has to offer. Furthermore, while her feelings in the relationship may indeed deepen, there's no reason to expect that his will."

The Torah standard of dress reflects the dignity of being created in the image of the Almighty. Rather than attract outside attention, the goal is to be happy with oneself, not needing outside approval or validation. The less a woman wears, the less dignity and self-respect she projects. I highly recommend Dina Coopersmith's article "Beneath the Surface: A Deeper Look at Modesty" on

There is a second aspect to the concept of dressing modestly. The more precious something is, the more it is guarded and reserved for important occasions. If one uses his best silver at every meal, it loses its uniqueness. There is something exceptional about one's physical attraction. The Torah wants that specialness to maintain its power as well as its dignity for one exceedingly important relationship -- marriage.

Realizing the need, Marty Bogoratt set out to work with top fashion designers and manufacturers to blend their designs with the Torah's standards of modesty to create fashionable, but not provocative clothing -- at reasonable prices. It is well-worthwhile to check out his website or call 888-4-MODESTY (888- 466-3378). Since I don't know of anyone else doing this, it is fair to say that Marty is the leader in providing fashionable modest clothing! As it says in Proverbs 11:2 "...And with the modest ones lies wisdom!"


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Torah Portion of the week

Ki Tisa, Exodus 30:11 - 34:35

The Torah portion includes: instructions for taking a census (by each person donating a half shekel); instructions to make the Washstand, Anointing Oil, and The Incense for the Mishkan, the Portable Sanctuary; appointing Betzalel and Oholiab to head up the architects and craftsmen for the Mishkan; a special commandment forbidding the building of the Mishkan on Shabbat (people might have thought that they would be allowed to violate the Shabbat to do a mitzvah ...).

The Torah portion continues with the infamous story of the Golden Calf. The people wrongly calculated that Moses was late in coming down from Mt. Sinai and the people were already seeking a replacement for him by making the Golden Calf (there is a big lesson in patience for us here). Moses sees them dancing around the calf and expressing anger he breaks the Two Tablets; he then punishes the 3,000 wrongdoers (less than .1% of the 3 million people), pleads to God not to wipe out the people, requests to see the Divine Glory, and receives the second set of Tablets of the Ten Commandments.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states regarding the gathering of gold to make the Golden Calf:

"And Aharon (Moses' brother and the Cohen Gadol, High Priest) said to them, 'Remove the golden earrings which are on the ears of your wives, sons and daughters, and bring them to me." (Exodus 32:2)

How is it possible that Aharon would help make an idol?

The commentator, Daas Zkainim, explains that Aharon's intentions were righteous. This is what he said to himself: "Now that Moshe has not returned, if I will appoint Caleb or Nachson as the leader in Moshe's absence, when Moshe returns they will not be eager to give up their position of leadership. This will cause a major quarrel. If I do not appoint anyone as leader, they will choose a leader themselves and this will also cause a major quarrel. If I will assume leadership until Moshe returns, perhaps he will feel when he comes back that I tried to usurp his position. Therefore, until Moshe returns I will keep them busy with talk about making a meaningless golden calf. The women will be reluctant to give up their jewelry and therefore I will be able to stall for time."

This is an incredible lesson on judging people favorably! Next time you see someone doing something absolutely inexplicably despicable, before condemning him for his behavior, ask yourself, "What positive motivations and intentions could he possibly have had?" Maybe if you were to know his true motivations, you'd realize that he meant nothing wrong and even tried to prevent something negative from happening.


Candle Lighting Times

February 14
(or go to

Jerusalem 4:49
Guatemala 5:48 - Hong Kong 6:01 - Honolulu 6:10
J'Burg 6:34 - London 4:55 - Los Angeles 5:19
Melbourne 8:02 - Mexico City 6:17 - Miami 5:56
New York 5:11- Singapore 7:03 - Toronto 5:28

Quote of the Week

You can't try and fail,
you can only fail if you don't try


With Deep Appreciation to

Steven J. Saiontz


With Special Thanks to

Frank & Elaine Gelb


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