Ki Tissa (Ex. 30:11 – 34:35)

Still on the old computer.  I think mine will be fixed later today.

I wonder why I can no longer stand the color white?  See our local paper’s take on how you know if you have snow fatigue at .  A couple of examples:

• You’re considering having more kids, because in just a few years, THEY can clear the driveway and sidewalk.  (My husband did the major snow clearing – snow blower and shovel – while I did the roofs of our cars and will clean up the remaining bits of last night’s snowfall later.)

• You put a yardstick out to measure the snow, and now you can’t find it. (I admit to being tempted to let the snow stay on the car roofs until I could get a good measurement.  I eyeballed it at about 1 foot.)

• You hurl the remote every time a commercial for Florida vacations comes on.

Well, at least the sky is blue.  For the moment.

Yes, right, the Torah portion.  What I was planning to write was nicely covered (IMHO) two years ago, and I think my brain has frozen, so, with your indulgence, I repeat those comments here:

“Ki Tissa is a portion of many moods: peaceful instruction, fear, orgiastic celebration, anger, repentance, and spiritual communion.  The beginning is the conclusion of the instructions to Moses on Mt.Sinai concerning the Tabernacle and its service: the census and 1/2 shekel head tax for maintenance…, a copper basin for washing priests’ hands and feet, the recipes for the incense and anointing oil, and the appointment of Bezalel as chief artisan, assisted by Oholiab.  And, once more, a reminder to keep the Sabbath. Then Moses comes down the mountain with the two inscribed tablets, sees the people joyfully worshipping a gold idol in the shape of a young bull.  Moses convinces the Lord to not wipe them all out (“only” about 3,000 die of a plague as punishment), but he himself smashes the tablets (that gets their attention), grinds up the idol, mixes it with water, and makes the people drink it.  Aaron tries to explain, but instead of saying simply, “Look, they were afraid you wouldn’t come back, I was trying to stall for time, and if I hadn’t made them that idol, they probably would have killed me,” he says, “I threw their gold into the fire and this calf came out.”  The people repent.  Moses is allowed to see, not the face, but the back of the Lord. Then he goes back up for another set of tablets and another opportunity to commune with the Lord. He comes back down literally glowing.

“How could the Israelites, so soon after the Exodus from Egypt and the Revelation at Mt. Sinai, have blithely broken such fundamental commandments, commissioning and worshipping the Golden Calf?  Aaron’s idiotic excuse makes no sense unless he too felt that the Lord, or some other god, was made manifest in the idol.  The poet and philosopher Yehuda HaLevi (ca. 1080-1141) tried strenuously to explain and excuse the apostasy, writing that everyone back then worshipped images, and so the people needed something tangible to focus on in order to worship, not replace, the Lord.  Similarly, Nachmanides (1195-1270) suggests that the Israelites were asking Aaron for a substitute, not for the Lord, but for Moses.  Generally, though, the Israelites’ actions are regarded as genuine idol worship.

“Yet the question remains – didn’t the splitting of the Sea and the thunder and lightning and Divine voice of Revelation have any impact?  A similar question arises from the haftarah (Kings I, 18:1-39), that really dramatic one in which Elijah bests the priests of Baal and the people fall down crying, “The Lord is God! The Lord is God!” But then (after the haftarah’s events), they lapse right back into idolatry.  Maimonides (1135-1204) understands that a single dramatic event is not likely to cause a lasting transformation in human character, but such transformation occurs only gradually in reality. (source for above citations: (Nehama Leibowitz, New Studies in Shemot, pp. 549-557).  For example, the medieval English were essentially all pagans in the year 600.  Then Christianity started to take root, gradually, without martyrs, with plenty of lapses and re-conversions, often incorporating local pagan practices (e.g., people continued to wear their little Thor’s hammer amulets).  The result: by 700, paganism had been replaced by Christianity.  It took a full century (Jennifer Paxton, Georgetown University).  Surely it was a little unrealistic to expect Israel to internalize all those Laws only after a matter of weeks?”

Shabbat shalom,


Tax Jokes

Dear Internal Revenue Service:

Enclosed you will find my 2005 tax return showing that I
owe $3,407.00 in taxes. Please note the attached article
from the USA Today newspaper, dated 12 November, wherein
you will see the Pentagon (Department of Defense) is paying $171.50 per hammer and NASA has paid $600.00 per toilet seat.

I am enclosing four (4) toilet seats (valued @ $2,400) and six
(6) hammers valued @ $1,029), which I secured at Home Depot, bringing my total remittance to $3,429.00.

Please apply the overpayment of $22.00 to the “Presidential Election Fund,” as noted on my return. You can do this inexpensively by sending them one (1) 1.5 ” Phillips Head screw (see aforementioned article from USA Today newspaper detailing how H.U.D. pays $22.00 each for 1.5″ Phillips Head Screws). One screw is enclosed for your convenience.

It has been a pleasure to pay my tax bill this year, and I look forward to paying it again next year.

A Satisfied Taxpayer


Top Ten Lame Golden Calf Pickup Lines

by Weekly Bang Staff Posted: 03-05-2010(Viewed 6194 times)

tph golden calf

10. Holy cow, you’re golden!
9. What’s your sign? Taurus?
8. Forget breaking the 2 tablets, you just broke my heart
7. Nice golden calves….I’ve always been a leg man
6. Didn’t I see your profile on
5. Who needs the aygel (calf)? I’m looking at an angel
4. Let’s do something really worth atoning for
3. Sorry, are you single or did you also just donate your ring?
2. Forget the gold, my heart just melted
1. Seems they named that cow-statue after me. Hi I’m Goldberg


 Miscellaneous Excuses (just a few)

  1. Girl at McDonalds. Please excuse me for not filling your order. I must get the manager. You see, I can not find the picture of your hamburger on the register. (I teach school, and this is a true story. It happened to me at a McDonald’s on Cities Service Hwy, Sulphur, LA)
  2. At this time I am unable to process your order for the new CPU for your computer…… our computers are down.
  3. What to say when caught sleeping at work: “Amen”
  4. I once received a job application that said the excuse for quitting his last job was that he had a ‘fatal’ accident while on the job there.


An angry God was standing at the foot of Mount Sinai. Moses had just descended. At the foot of the mountain lay the two tablets of the Ten Commandments, shattered in a thousand pieces. “What have you done?” demanded God. “Didn’t I tell you to deliver the Ten Commandments to the children of Israel?”

“Yes, Lord,” said Moses. “But a man dressed in a brown robe in a flying brown chariot with gold letters on the side appeared to me at the top of the mountain. He told me he would deliver the Ten Commandments to the children of Israel. I thought you sent him.”

“I most certainly did not,” said God. “What were the letters on the side of this chariot?”

Moses stooped and wrote three letters in the sand. Pointing at them, he pronounced, “Oops” (UPS).

tph ki tissa tablets


Sent out in 2009

Moses v. Goshen Insurance and Fidelity [substantially abridged]
Tuesday, November 27, 2007 at 00:00
By Marcel Strigberger

This judgment was rendered by The Honourable Mr. Justice Pinchas, of the Sinai Desert High Court:

Pinchas J.: The plaintiff Moses brings this action against Goshen Insurance
and Fidelity for accident benefits. A brief summary of the salient facts is
in order.

The plaintiff, 80 years old, is a liberator by occupation.
Moses was summoned by the Lord to come up Mount Sinai to obtain the Ten Commandments engraved on two heavy stone tablets.
After about forty days many of the people built a golden calf that they started to worship. When the plaintiff returned to camp, he was appalled at the breach of faith, raised up both tablets over his head, and threw the tablets down.  Moses then developed severe shoulder tendonitis and claimed that he was substantially disabled from performing the principal functions of his occupation.  The defendant however declined benefits. The plaintiff subsequently launched this action.

The defendant denies the claim.

However, I do not buy defendant’s argument that Moses was the author of his own misfortune by willfully throwing the tablets. Moses acted within his job description. Clause 18 of the job description (exhibit 43) in fact reads as follows:

“In addition to the foregoing the employee may occasionally have his wrath wax hot and he may discipline the people using any reasonable means as may be necessary.“
I find that the action of the plaintiff came within the ambit of his
duties. He did not in my view overwax.

Is the plaintiff disabled from substantially performing the essential duties of his occupation?  His duties are wide, ranging from judging the people to trouble shooting to speaking to rocks. Frequently he is asked to raise his hands over his shoulders, as when there is a battle with the Hittites or the Canaanites for example.

It is obvious that Moses is disabled as defined by the policy and entitled to benefits. The plaintiff will have his judgment as claimed plus interest plus 50,000 shekels punitive damages. If the monies are not paid within seven days Moses is free to use any means he chooses to recover. And if I was the claims’ manager of Goshen Insurance, I would not give Moses the name of my first born son.

Judgment accordingly.

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