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Ki Tisa 5761

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

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!  A father was at the beach with his children when his four-year-old son ran up to him, grabbed his hand, and led him to the shore, where a seagull lay dead in the sand. "Daddy, what happened to him?" the son asked. "He died and went to Heaven," the dad replied. The boy thought a moment and then said, "Did God throw him back down?"

And do you think it is going to be any easier answering your child's question about Pesach? Thirty days before each holiday we are directed by the Sages to prepare for the holiday. We are now less than 30 days and closing on Passover! The Seders are Saturday night, April 7th and Sunday night, April 8th. In order to transform what may have become an overly ritualized family reunion into a fountainhead of insight and inspiration, I cannot recommend highly enough, The Passover Survival Kit by Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf. It's for people with a lot more than four questions. Available at your local Jewish bookstore or call toll-free 877-758-3242 (you can also order the "Bag of Plagues" props -- there is a special: Bag of Plagues + an Artscroll Hagaddah for $19.95, including postage ). Check out the Aish website on Passover

And of course, it wouldn't hurt to also save the next four weeks' copies of the Shabbat Shalom Fax to have at the Seder table ...


Every Jewish holiday is an opportunity to work on a certain aspect of personal growth. Succot is the time to work on Joy; Yom Kippur the time to work on Teshuva, spiritual accounting; Shavuot is the time to work on Kabbalat HaTorah, taking Torah seriously.

Passover is the holiday of Freedom -- spiritual freedom. For this the Almighty brought us out of Egypt. So, what is the essence of Freedom?

Is Freedom the ability to do what one desires unhampered and without consequence? That is license, not freedom. James Bond had a "license to kill," not the freedom to kill. Freedom means having the ability to use your free will to grow and to develop.

People think they are free when in reality they are often "slaves" to the fads and fashion of their society. Slavery is non-thinking action, rote behavior, following the impulse desires of the body. Our job on Pesach is to come out of slavery into true freedom!

All of the commandments associated with Pesach enable us to relive and experience the freedom our forefathers experienced in leaving the land of Egypt in order to serve the Almighty.

During all eight days of Pesach we are forbidden to own Chametz (leavened bread -- i.e., virtually any flour product not especially produced for Pesach) or have it in our possession. Why the emphasis on being Chametz-free? Chametz represents arrogance ("puffing up"). The only thing that stands between you and God ... is you. To come close to the Almighty, which is the ultimate pleasure in life and the opportunity of every Mitzvah and holiday, one must remove his own personal arrogance. The external act brings the internal appreciation; we remove Chametz from our homes and we must likewise work on the character trait of humility.

On the evening preceding Pesach there is a serious search of the home for Chametz. There is a custom to put 10 pieces of bread out so there will be something to find during the search. (I believe this is the source for the Easter Egg hunt amongst Christians). It is done by the light of a candle or with a flashlight. It is a memorable experience for the whole family!

Portion of the Week

Ki Tisa

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 Bezalel 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 in anger 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, "Six days you shall work and on the seventh day, it should be a complete rest sacred to the Almighty" (Exodus 31:15) What does it mean "a complete rest"?

Rashi, the great commentator, tells us that rest on Shabbat should be a permanent rest and not merely a temporary rest. Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz clarifies that a temporary rest means that a person has not really changed his inner traits, but he merely controls them on Shabbat. He still has a bad temper and has a tendency to engage in quarrels, but because of the elevation of Shabbat, he has the self-discipline not to manifest these traits. The ultimate in Shabbat observance is that a person should uproot those negative traits which are contradictory to peace of mind on Shabbat. One needs to uproot such traits as anger and the tendency to quarrel with others. Only then is your rest on Shabbat a complete rest.

It is not sufficient for a person just to refrain from the formal categories of creative acts on Shabbat. Shabbat is the gift of peace of mind. This is not considered righteousness, but an essential aspect of Shabbat. Only by being a master over your negative emotions can you have true peace of mind -- and elevate yourself spiritually!


Jerusalem  5:11
Guatemala 5:54  Hong Kong 6:14  Honolulu 6:22
J'Burg 6:05  London 5:48  Los Angeles 5:44
Melbourne 7:25  Miami 6:12  Moscow 6:16

New York 5:46  Singapore  7:00


is the bridge between
goals and accomplishments.

Dedicated by...

Happy 8th Birthday
to our son, Eli
Helena Igra & Marc Singer

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