Passover 5777 (Ki Sisa)

Chag sameach and a joyous Passover from Jerusalem, where today I had a wonderful visit with a young Israeli cousin who is a Scout.

Dear Scouts,

This week at services during Passover, we are reading Torah portions that have to do with our redemption from slavery in Egypt and the first Passover. On Shabbat, we will read a portion of Parsha Ki Sisa, which we read several weeks ago. This week, we read Exodus 33:12 – 34:26.

These verses come after Moses has seen the Children of Israel worshipping the golden calf and he has smashed the two tablets on which God had inscribed the Ten Commandments. The selection begins with Moses asking God to accompany the people on their journey to the Land of Israel, and God responds “My Presence will go with and provide you rest.”

Moses asks that he be permitted to see God’s glory. God responds that this would be too much for any human to live through. God tells Moses to stand in the cleft of the mountain, God will pass by and shield him and Moses will be able to see God’s back, which the sages interpreted as the back of the head, where the knot of the head tephillin is worn.

God instructs Moses to carve two new tablets and Moses again climbs Mt. Sinai for God to inscribe them with the Ten Commandments. Moses called upon God with the holy name we refer to as Hashem (the Name), and God responded with the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy that we repeat on Yom Kippur: “Hashem, Hashem, God, Compassionate and Gracious, Slow to Anger, and Abundant in Kindness and Truth; Preserver of Kindness for thousands of generations, Forgiver of Iniquity, Willful Sin, and Error, and Who Cleanses.”

Knowing that the Israelites were capable of making terrible mistakes such as worshiping the golden calf, God teaches Moses the people can be redeemed with this prayer if they are sincere in repenting and not repeating their mistake. Not only had God redeemed the people a few weeks before by taking them out of Egypt, God redeemed them a second time with this prayer for mercy.

So we see that even today God redeems us, as he did thousands of years ago.

Shabbat shalom,

©2017 Nelson R. Block.