Parshat Ki Tisa Summary

Parshat Ki Tisa is the 9th parsha in Sefer Shemot (also known as Exodus).

This parsha is verses Exodus 30:11 – 34:35, or a total of 139 verses.

Here is a brief summary for each aliyah.

This parsha records the sad episode of the Jewish people worshiping the Golden Calf.

Based on that incident, we can divide Parshat Ki Tisa into 3 parts:

  • Before the Golden Calf – verses 30:11 – 31:18
  • The Event – verses 32:1 – 32:29
  • Aftermath – verses 32:30 – 34:35

Aliyah 1: Exodus 30:11 – 31:17, 45 verses

It almost seems like God is reluctant to get to the incident of the Golden Calf. The first reading goes on and on for 45 verses!

It includes a collection of subjects:

  • how to perform a census
  • the copper basin for washing
  • the recipe for anointing oil
  • the recipe for incense
  • appointing Bezalel and Oholiab to oversee building the Tabernacle
  • celebrating Shabbat
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Aliyah 2: Exodus 31:18 – 33:11, 47 verses

The second reading begins with God giving Moses the 2 Tablets, as He had promised.

Then, with very little preamble, the Torah records the sin of the Golden Calf.

God tells Moses what the people have done and orders him to go down from Mount Sinai. Moses prays that God will not destroy the people.

Moses descends and sees with his own eyes what the people are doing. He smashes the Tablets. Moses and the tribe of Levi assemble to judge the people and execute a number of them. God then sends a plague into the Jewish camp.

We see that Moses and the people could identify only some of the people who deserved to be punished. There were other people who sinned but only God was able to determine what their punishment should be.

God announces that He will no longer travel with the people and Moses moves his tent outside the camp.

Aliyah 3: Exodus 33:12 – 33:16, 5 verses

Moses pleads with God that He will stay with the people and continue to lead them.

Aliyah 4: Exodus 33:17 – 33:23, 7 verses

Moses continues to plead with God. He also seeks to understand God’s way of dealing with people.

God tells Moses no one can see His “face,” but He promises to show Moses His “back.”

Aliyah 5: Exodus 34:1 – 34:9, 9 verses

God orders Moses to carve new tablets. He is then supposed to bring them up to Mount Sinai.

Moses goes up to Mount Sinai. God reveals Himself to Moses and proclaims before him the 13 Attributes of Mercy.

Aliyah 6: Exodus 34:10 – 34:26, 17 verses

In this reading God restates and summarizes to Moses many of the ideas that were in the 10 Commandments and in Parshat Mishpatim.

Included here are such concepts as:

  • be careful to avoid certain sins
  • do not make a covenant with the current inhabitants of Canaan
  • do not make molten images
  • celebrate Passover
  • the firstborn belong to God
  • observe the Sabbath
  • do not mix meat and milk foods

Aliyah 7: Exodus 34:27 – 34:35, 9 verses

Moses is up on Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights, just as he was the first time he ascended there.

When he comes down from the mount, he’s carrying the new Tablets. Also, his face was shining so brightly that everyone was afraid to approach him.

Haftarah Summary

According to the Ashkenazi tradition the haftarah is read from 1 Kings 18:1 – 39. The Sefardim start later and only read from 1 Kings 18:20 – 39.

The hatarah begins with the famine that occurred during the reign of King Ahab when Elijah was the most important prophet in Israel. Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal to a contest: will Baal answer their prayers, or will God answer Elijah. He challenges the Jewish people to decide if they will serve Baal or God.

Further Reading

I already mentioned above other related articles about the 10 Commandments and Parshat Mishpatim. In addition, I’ve written other articles on this parsha such as “After the Golden Calf.”

A Note on the Translations
The translation of Bible verses is based on the Judaica Press Tanach.
The translation of Gemara is based on the Soncino Talmud.
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