Below is a collection of Parashat Ki Tissa resources created by The Lookstein Center staff or contributed to the site by Jewish educators.
This is a growing collection. Check back soon or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you didn’t find what you’re looking for.
DISCUSSION AND REFLECTION QUESTIONS
Question #1: Is it harder to be good when everyone else is doing the wrong thing? Were you ever in a class where the teacher had to leave for a few minutes and then there was chaos? Did you join or wait quietly? How did the teacher react when he/she returned? Parashat Ki Tissa tells the story of how the Jewish people began to worship the golden calf when Moses did not return from Mt. Sinai when they expected. God wanted to punish them severely and Moses pleaded for them. One of his arguments was that God put them in a “bad neighborhood”, in Egypt for 210 years! It’s not surprising that they were influenced by idol worship there. Therefore, God should forgive them.
Look inside the text (Shemot 32:11),
וַיְחַל משֶׁה אֶת פְּנֵי ה’ אֱלֹקיו וַיֹּאמֶר לָמָה ה’ יֶחֱרֶה אַפְּךָ בְּעַמֶּךָ אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם בְּכֹחַ גָּדוֹל וּבְיָד חֲזָקָה – But Moses pleaded with God, saying, “Don’t let Your anger, God, blaze against Your people, whom You delivered from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand.
Question #2: Do you think it’s better to be in a class where everyone is at the same level as you, or is it better to be in a class with kids at different levels? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? In Parashat Ki Tissa we read about the recipe for the incense which was burned on the golden mizbeach (altar). We would imagine that all the ingredients would have a nice smell. But one of the ingredients, galbanum (חלבנה ) had a very bad smell! Rashi, a famous medieval commentator, explains that this comes to teach us an important lesson of unity. Everyone – good and bad – has a share in serving God.
Look inside the text (Shemot 30:34),
וַיֹּאמֶר ה’ אֶל מֹשֶׁה קַח לְךָ סַמִּים נָטָף וּשְׁחֵלֶת וְחֶלְבְּנָה סַמִּים וּלְבֹנָה זַכָּה בַּד בְּבַד יִהְיֶה׃ – And God said to Moses: Take the herbs stacte, onycha, and galbanum–these herbs together with pure frankincense; let there be an equal part of each.
Question #3: God instructs that two people lead the efforts to construct the Mishkan (Tabernacle) – Betzalel, from a noble family of Judah, and Oholiav, from an unknown family of Dan. These two come from dramatically different backgrounds: Judah is the tribe of royalty who marches first in the wilderness and Dan is from one of the maidservants who brings up the rear in the procession. Is it always important to have more than one person in a leadership position? While diversity helps more people to feel involved, what do we lose in pursuing it? What do/should we sacrifice for diversity?
Question #4: One of the key arguments that Moses uses to save the Israelites was that destroying them would create a desecration of God’s name. Apparently, as a result of Moses’s argument, God relents. What other kinds of behaviors create a desecration of God’s name? Does that only apply to those things which are public?