Questions and Concepts for Parsha Ki Tisa
(Exodus 30:11-34:35)

Ki Tisa contains as many mystical concepts and as much drama as any Parsha. Going from the completion of the Tabernacle to the sin of the golden calf, Ki Tisa is a spiritual "roller coaster" of highs and lows for Moses and the Hebrew people.

The opening theme of the parsha is one of "Divine judgment" as seen with the taking of a census. "Judgment" as such is an attribute of God, and not *necessarily* a "bad" thing. However, any time someone serving God is "pointed out" (as with a census or deciding to become a Torah teacher) this also makes them a target for the evil realm. On the other hand, the unification of the people through the common giving of the half-shekel, combines the merits of the people, raising them to a higher level, and offering protection (atonement) to the individual.

One principle established by the Hebrew sages is that, "the creation of the cure always predates the introduction of the disease." Thus we find both the Tabernacle and a further mention of the Sabbath precede the account of the "Golden Calf."

It is interesting to note that the Tabernacle is primarily associated with "physical space" (being an "object") while the Sabbath is mostly time related. (For more concerning the relationship between the Tabernacle/Temple and the Sabbath, see the article, Shabbat and Mikdash on Yashanet at


Chapter 31 introduces us to Betzallel, the son of Chur and grandson of Miriam. Torah identifies him as the chief artisan and architect of the Tabernacle. (By the way, he was only 13 years old!)

Notice what is said regarding him:

Exodus 31:3 - And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all kinds of workmanship.

In another portion of the Tenakh, we find a similar description of Messiah:

Isaiah 11:1-2 - And there shall come forth a rod from the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow from his roots; And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.

Betzallel is closely associated with Messiah as both have something to do with the joining of the spiritual and physical worlds. There is an interesting connection between Betzallel and Yeshua at the hidden ("sod") level of Torah study. The numerical value (gemmatria) of "Betzallel" in Hebrew is 153. This number has a mystical relationship to the "connecting of above and below" in the following manner:

  • The number 10 is associated with the heavenly realm
  • The number 7 is associated with the physical realm
  • Joining the two together (as Betzallel and Messiah do) equals 17
  • The sum of the numbers from 1 through 17 is 153.

In the gospel of John the author makes sure to give us what seems a superfluous piece of information -- unless one looks beyond the plain meaning (the "p'shat") of the text. Following the resurrection of Yeshua, his ascension to the Father and return to his disciples, we find him performing a miracle, causing a large number of fish to enter into their nets:

John 21:11 - Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three ...

Why would John bother to mention the number of fish? Some would say this is a coincidence. Others would argue that there is no such thing as "coincidence" with God and Scripture.


There are many opinions and teachings regarding the sin of the golden calf. One is that the Jews miscalculated when Moses would return, then sinned with a wild party. The end result of which is the original tablets of the Ten Commandments, written with "the finger of God" were destroyed, followed by the death of the perpetrators.

There is a peculiar theme here, found later in the book of Daniel. There we find king Belshazzar miscalculating the deliverance of the Jews (also by one day) and throwing a wild party. This was followed by the "finger of God" writing on the wall of the palace and his death that night.

Is there a message here?


Some wonder why Aaron could commit such a grievous sin and yet be "rewarded" with the office of High Priest. When one considers all of the burdens and restrictions of the lifestyle of the prieshood, one may reconsider if this is such a great reward.

However there is another aspect to this. Hebraic teaching states that a person who falls away and does teshuvah (repents) can attain greater spiritual heights than the one who never fell. Thus both the individual sin of Aaron as well as that of the people as a whole, can be viewed as "all being part of God's master plan."

The same argument can be made on an even grander scale with Adam. It is taught that the fall of Adam was also part of God's plan for him to learn and perform teshuvah. In fact teshuvah is said to be one of seven things created before Adam -- thus supporting the idea mentioned earlier that, "the creation of the cure always predates the introduction of the disease."


We find another interesting "coincidence" regarding the number of people who do not listen to the words of Moses and lose their lives in this parsha (part of a wicked generation who perish in the wilderness), with the number who listen to the words of Peter and find life through Messiah in the New Testament (those who did teshuvah and separated themselves from a wicked generation, i.e., Acts 2:38-40):

Exodus 32:28 - So the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And about three thousand men of the people fell that day.

Acts 2:41 - Then those who gladly received his word were mikved; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

Is this a case of, "the Lord taketh away and the Lord giveth?"