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Parashat Ki Tisa

A Summary of the Shiur Delivered on Mossa'ei Shabbat by Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a

The Halachot of the Four Parshiyot

On the Shabbat immediately preceding Rosh Hodesh Adar, we take two Sifrei Torah from the ark and read in second sefer Parashat Shekalim (from the beginning of Parashat Ki-Tisa). In the time of the Bet Hamikdash, Rosh Hodesh Adar was when the collectors began soliciting the annual half-shekel tax which was used for the purchase of animals for sacrifices the following year, beginning with Rosh Hodesh Nissan. We therefore read on this Shabbat the parashah in the Torah dealing with this half-shekel tax.

Additionally, Hazal tell us (Megilah 13b) that Hashem foresaw that Haman would give shekalim to execute the Jews (Esther 3:9), and He therefore issued the misvah of the half-shekel so that this merit would protect the Jews from Haman.

The half-shekel silver coin is the equivalent of ten grams of silver (the value of about 8 shekels in Israeli currency). One must give every year on Purim a commemorative half-shekel on behalf of his wife and sons over the age of bar-misvah. This money should go towards the funding of Torah institutions and yeshivot. Just as the daily "tamid" offerings would atone for Benei Yisrael during the times of the Mikdash (Midrash Rabbah, Parashat Pinhas 21:21), so do the yeshivot and institutions of higher learning today atone for and protect our generation.

On the Shabbat immediately preceding Purim, we take out two Sifrei Torah and read from the second one the parashah discussing the misvah to destroy Amalek (end of Parashat Tesaveh). This reading constitutes a Torah obligation. The one reading should therefore remind the congregation beforehand that they must have in mind to fulfill through their listening the obligation of remembering and eradicating Amalek. The reader, too, must have in mind to fulfill the listeners' obligation on their behalf. The congregation must listen silently to the reading and may not read along with the reader from their Humashim. Children should be instructed not to make any noise that would disrupt the reading. Care must be taken to ensure that the Sefer Torah used for Parashat Zachor is valid, and the highest quality Sefer Torah should be used. Those who live in areas that do not have a minyan for services must spend Shabbat in a place where they can hear the reading of Zachor with a minyan, as the Rosh requires the presence of a minyan for the reading of Zachor. Others, however, maintain that as far as Torah law is concerned, the reading may be conducted even in private; it was Hazal who required a minyan for this reading.

Some authorities hold that the Torah obligation of Zachor applies to women, as well. Others, however, disagree. As for the final halachah, women should make an effort to come to the Bet Kenesset for the reading, but if they cannot come because of their children and the like, they are exempt.

A Sefaradi who generally attends a Bet Kenesset of Ashkenazim should make a point of listening to this reading from one who reads with the Sefaradic pronunciation, and vice-versa. One need not, however, be too stringent with regard to the writing of the Sefer Torah, whether it is written according to the Ashkenazic or Sefaradic tradition.

Although we must observe the Torah obligation of reading Parashat Zachor, we can no longer fulfill the misvah of destroying Amalek since we can no longer identify the nation. Nevertheless, the reading of Zachor must remind us of why Amalek attacked us. As the Mechilta tells us, Amalek came because of Benei Yisrael's laxity in Torah study. Hazal also tell us that so long as Amalek's descendants exist in the world, neither Hashem's Name nor His throne is "complete."

May Hashem bring our redemption speedily and gather our exiles in our day, Amen.


Dear Brothers,

Moshe Rabbenu was gone for forty days, and when he returned, he returned to a different nation. A golden calf, dancing - a nightmare. Before the sin they beheld the glory of the Shechinah, whereas now they could not even look into the face of Moshe Rabbenu! The fall was so great, the disappointment so bitter, that Moshe Rabbenu, the loyal shepherd, took the tent and brought it outside and far from the camp. He detached himself from the camp, "and it was that whoever sought G-d would go out to the Tent of Meeting that was outside the camp."

The Gemara, towards the end of Masechet Berachot, tells of the Al-mighty's reaction to what Moshe did: "The Al-mighty said to Moshe: Now they will say that both the master and student are angry; what will be with Yisrael? If you bring the tent back to its place, good; if not, then your servant, Yehoshua Bin Nun, will assume your position!"

A leader has no right to become angry and detach himself. If Moshe Rabbenu had not returned the tent to the camp, he would have been demoted from his position of leadership.

This is true regarding a leader, and equally applicable to parents. Whatever a child does, even if he makes a golden calf, the parent is still his parent and he must be with his child - but with one condition: that he does not have a negative influence on his siblings. Yishmael sought to exert such influence on Yis'hak, and was sent away. Esav, however, did not try to prevent Yaakov from "dwelling in his tents" of Torah, so his father, Yis'hak, drew him close. The word that repeats itself continuously in his words to Esav is, "beni," my son - a word of closeness and affection.

There is no simpler solution than detachment, separation, and erecting a wall between one and his child. But this is not our approach, this is not the path paved for us by our esteemed rabbi, Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a. He does not separate himself or erect any barriers. He descends from the mountain to the people, feels their pain, teaches and guides, and offers counsel and instruction. He founded the Torah educational network as well as many other important organizations in Israel. We will follow his lead and involve ourselves in all levels of the nation, in the registering of children in the beautiful Torah educational systems, we will work towards returning the nation to its heritage, and restoring the glory of Torah to its rightful place.

Shabbat Shalom,

Aryeh Deri



Not too long ago, nobody had ever known of unheard sounds. In fact, no one was ever interested in them; after all, what purpose is there in sounds that cannot be heard? In the meantime, however, scientists have studied various phenomena of sounds and discovered that these ultrasounds are blessed with certain qualities that regular sound waves do not possess. The use of these inaudible waves in many different areas of life is so widespread that scientists believe the day will come when people will ask what cannot be done through these ultrasounds. These sounds have helped purify food, heat water, drill oil wells, disperse fog and smoke, examine machinery and drill holes of various shapes. In the medical field, these waves have helped in pain relief. Scientists believe that we are not too far from the day when operations could be performed with these ultrasounds without letting a drop of the patient's blood. All these things and hundreds others are performed by ultrasounds.

This remarkable item is produced in one of two ways: mechanically and electronically.

A sound that cannot be heard - it almost sounds fantasy-like. As it turns out, though, there are many other sounds that are not heard by everyone, sounds that, unlike ultrasounds, can potentially be heard by every human ear. However, a Jew is capable of hearing wondrous, powerful and truthful things, of genuinely acknowledging that Moshe and his Torah are true - and yet not implement any change in his daily life. We consider "listening" effective when it yields practical results, when the individual is not the same person after listening as he was before listening, when the words that he heard were internalized and triggered a change. Within every Jew there is a spark which, when it hears the sweet words of the sacred Torah, turns into a giant flame - the improvement of his ways.


Three Pieces of Advice (1)

This story occurred during the time of the sacred Rav Levi Yis'hak of Berditchev, may his merit protect us and all of Yisrael.

In one village in the estate of a certain landowner there lived a G-d-fearing Jew busy raising his sons and daughters. He leased the landowner's beverage store, but his expenses were high and the income from the store did not cover them. The landowner demanded the rent money and his daughters reached marriageable age.

The man asked around for advice and said to his wife, "My dear wife, we have many debts and the landowner is pressuring us to pay them. We must save money for dowries for our daughters. Let me leave and look for gainful employment and save money. The good L-rd will see our distress and find me profitable work. I will then return home with a sizable fortune, and we will repay our debts and enjoy a comfortable living. We will raise our sons in Torah and marry our daughters off to Torah scholars!"

The woman agreed to her husband's idea with tears mixed with hope.

She prepared for him a travel bag with clothing and food, and he bid his family farewell and left. He searched for a livelihood and tried his hand in all different types of work. He hired himself out as a schoolteacher and ba'al tefilah, as a scribe, shohet and mohel, and as an attendant in Batei Kenesset and yeshivot. He saved one penny at a time until ultimately he accumulated ninety rubles. Ninety silver rubles was an enormous fortune in those days, an amount that would allow him to repay his debts of many years and rejuvenate his livelihood, to live comfortably and marry off his daughters honorably. The time had thus come for his exile to come to an end and to stop his life of wandering. It was time for him to return home to his family that waited so eagerly for him to rejoin them.

He began making his way back and passed through the town of Berditchev, where the revered sadik, the great defender of Yisrael, Rav Levi Yis'hak, resided. The man said to himself, how can I pass through Berditchev without stopping to receive a berachah from the holy rabbi?

He entered the sadik's Bet Midrash and was struck by the impassioned prayers recited with such fiery emotion and in such a pleasant voice. When the tefilah was completed he approached the sadik to receive his blessing.

The sadik greeted him warmly and invited him to his house for breakfast. There the man learned an important lesson about the concept of berachot before eating, how one must bless the Creator, our G-d, the G-d of Yisrael, and the King of the entire world, that He sanctified us with His misvot - all 613 misvot - and commanded us to wash our hands. He learned of how to thank Hashem, our G-d and King of the world, for producing bread from the ground. The man thanked his Creator for granting him the privilege of seeing, if only once in his life, how to recite a berachah properly.

When the meal was over, the sadik turned to the man and said, "Please listen to me. An important misvah involving rescuing Jewish captives came to me, and I need a huge amount of money to perform it. If you agree, may I offer three pieces of advice that will be helpful to you, and in exchange I will ask for thirty rubles for each suggestion? Will you agree?" The man quickly calculated that this would cost him ninety rubles - exactly the amount of money he had saved.

To be continued


Rabbi David Aminof zs"l

Rabbi David Aminof zs"l was the rabbi of Smarkand approximately one hundred years ago. He established in his town a Torah school where he personally taught. He also taught Torah classes to adults and delivered inspiring sermons that stirred the souls of his audiences and inspired them to enhance their observance of Torah and misvot. With the rise of the Communists to power, religious persecution began. The authorities sought to destroy Torah learning, and thus closed the school and forbade Torah classes and misvah observance, hunting down all violators. In the winter of the year 5693, a police unit arrived in the rabbi's house to arrest him. He was gripped with fear and fainted. The authorities therefore decided to arrest his wife, instead. After many efforts and the payment of a bribe she was redeemed.

As a result of this incident, they decided to emigrate to Eress Yisrael. They left their home and property behind and traveled through Persia to come to Eress Yisrael. They hired a guide to show them the way, but in the middle of the journey, as they were traveling through the wilderness, their guide disappeared. Having no choice, they continued along their way, climbing mountains and descending into deep ravines, and by the time they traversed the desert they had run out of food and water. On the third day, their tongues stuck to their pallets from thirst and their knees trembled from hunger. Rabbi David stopped, donned tallit and tefillin, and recited the minhah service with tears and intense emotion. He asked that Hashem assist them and save them from their troubles.

As was his wont, he prayed with his eyes closed. When he completed his tefilah and opened his eyes, he saw standing before him a dignified looking man, an elderly person with white hair and wearing a leather belt. The old man blessed him and took from his shoulder a canteen of water. He gave them water to drink and their eyes glistened. They filled their pitchers with water and he handed them several handfuls of seeds to eat. He asked them where they were headed and he showed them the way to Mishad. Just before the Yamim Noraim they arrived in Mishad, where Rabbi David found great opportunities for teaching Torah. When he finalized his emigration papers, he moved with his family to Yerushalayim where he worked as a supervisor for the taking of terumot and ma'asrot, until his death on 24 Elul 5700.

A Treasury of Halachot and Customs of the Festivals of Yisrael, Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
by Rav David Yossef shlit"a

The Halachot of Kiddush - Continued

Kiddush at the Time of the Meal

If one waited after kiddush before beginning his meal, then if less than seventy-two minutes transpired he need not repeat kiddush. Even if this period did pass, he need not recite kiddush if he had intended to eat immediately after kiddush but for some reason did not get around to it until seventy-two minutes later. (Although the authorities dispute the halachah in such a case, we do not recite a beracha if its obligation is subject to doubt.) This applies as well to a case where one initially planned to wait a long while in between kiddush and the meal, and then decided to eat his meal within seventy-two minutes after kiddush; he need not repeat kiddush.

If one drank a complete revi'it of wine, then even if he waited for a long time afterwards before beginning his meal and had intended initially to do so, he need not repeat kiddush. This applies even on Leil Shabbat. (In this case, we may rely on the authorities who hold that drinking a revi'it of wine from the kiddush cup counts as a "meal" to satisfy the requirement that kiddush must take place in the location of one's meal. Although we do not generally rely on this view with regard to kiddush on Leil Shabbat, ex post facto we may.)

If one left his house to the yard or public area in between kiddush and his meal and then returned to his original place, whether or not he must repeat kiddush is subject to a dispute among the authorities. As we do not recite berachot whose obligation is uncertain, in such a case one does not repeat kiddush.

Additionally, the requirement that kiddush take place in conjunction with one's meal is a rabbinic - rather than Biblical - requirement, and we may thus be lenient should such a situation arise. (This applies all the more so when the individual drank an entire revi'it of wine from the kiddush cup.) Nevertheless, one should be very careful not to leave the house after kiddush before starting his meal, even for a short while and to go nearby.

If one's kitchen is situated outside, he should preferably not go to the kitchen after kiddush before beginning his meal. When a need arises, however, one may be lenient in this regard. Going to the kitchen to wash one's hands for the meal after kiddush is permitted in this case even on the level of "lechatehilah" (the level of optimum observance). Similarly, on Sukkot, if one's sukkah is situated outside his home such that he must go inside to wash his hands or bring in food for the meal, one may do so after kiddush before the meal.

If, after a meal, one regurgitates all the food he ate during the meal, he should preferably eat another kezayit-worth of bread to fulfill the requirement that kiddush must take place in the location where one conducts his meal, and the requirement of oneg Shabbat. If, however, eating would be difficult, one need not be stringent in this regard, particularly if this poses a threat to his health or he may regurgitate again.

Kiddush When the Candles are Lit

One must recite kiddush and partake of his Shabbat meal in the area where he lit his Shabbat candles. If, however, one wishes to recite kiddush and conduct his meal somewhere else, such as in the yard outside his home or on the balcony, as he will enjoy eating more in this new location, or because eating at home would be uncomfortable, he may do so.


How beautiful it is that on the same Shabbat when we read of the incident of the golden calf in Parashat Ki-Tisa we also read as our haftarah Parashat Parah, the laws of the red heifer. Hazal tell us that the parah adumah (red heifer) atoned for the sin of the calf: "Let the mother [the cow] come and clean the mess of its son [the calf]." Not only do we read of the atonement just after the sin, but this association helps us gain a better understanding of the sin of the golden calf and extract its critical lessons.

Undoubtedly, the sin of the golden calf marked a failure. For good reason the Al-mighty was angry and sought to destroy Benei Yisrael. Nevertheless, we must remember that we deal here with the generation that received the Torah, a nation of prophets. Rabbi Yehuda Halevi zs"l, in his "Hakuzari" - writes that a very small percentage - only about three thousand people from the "erev rav" (groups that joined Benei Yisrael when they left Egypt) - actually worshipped the calf. The others believed in Hashem but did not negate the assumption that the calf represented a higher force of Hashem's Providence, through which they can leave the wilderness after Moshe's disappearance. (See "Kedushat Levi" on our parashah.) So what was so bad? The pasuk defines the problem as follows: "Hashem said to Moshe, I saw this nation and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. So now, let Me be and My anger will be aroused against them and I will consume them." This is all. Not because they made a golden image, not because of idolatry. For the nation, in general, did not intend to worship idols. The anger resulted from the stubbornness - on account of which the yesser hara and angel of death returned, resulting in exile and suffering!

In order to understand this, we must reconstruct Benei Yisrael's situation as they stood at the foot of Mount Sinai. They left Egypt after Hashem smote the country with ten devastating plagues and then drowned the Egyptians at sea. They weren't loved, to say the least. The surrounding nations trembled and were prepared to fight a bloody battle should Benei Yisrael try passing through their territory. Indeed, this is exactly what happened when they requested passage through the lands of Edom and Sihon - how much more so that they could not easily march into Eress Yisrael. In the desert, of course, they could not remain forever. And now, their leader, Moshe, disappeared. So what could they do? Could they try to make do alone, without Moshe Rabbenu? Would this be possible? The people of that generation knew something about spiritual leadership and the powers that operate in the upper worlds. How would they be able to draw these powers and take advantage of them? This time they chose the form of a calf (for the reason explained through allusion by the Ramban).

They did not intend to worship idols, writes the Kuzari. So what precisely was their sin? That they were stiff-necked. Perhaps we can call this inflexibility of thought, closing one's eyes from seeing the truth. They themselves had seen Hashem's protection hovering over them. Even whilst they fashioned the golden calf, the mountain was ablaze (Devarim 9:15). That morning the mann descended from the skies - in fact, they "fed" the calf that mann! Just as they saw Hashem protecting them with love, they turned their backs on Him, made a golden calf, and worried only about themselves.

For this Hashem was angry.

They correct this error through the parah adumah - precisely measure for measure. If when fashioning the golden calf they followed their own intelligence and inclinations, ignoring Hashem, they followed Egyptian culture (Shemot Rabbah 43:7) and closed their eyes from G-d's Providence, then in the misvah of parah adumah we ignore the challenges posed with regard to this misvah from the other nations, and no intellect can understand it. This misvah is called a "hok," a decree that we cannot understand but may not question (Rashi, Bemidbar 19:2). Instead, we say, "Okay, we do not understand, but the Al-mighty commanded us. He is far more intelligent than we are and we must abide by His word. We are subjugated to Him and commanded to obey His laws. We will not look to the right or left, but rather follow His commands."

This is being "stiff-necked" in the positive sense, the correction of the stiff-necked attitude manifest in the sin of the golden calf.

Like all parshiyot in the Torah, this one presents us with a crucial lesson for us and our generation. One who takes a careful look will see that our situation very much resembles that of the generation of the wilderness. On the one hand, we are lost, lacking direction, surrounded by enemies, with nowhere to go. But if we look a little deeper, we will see how much kindness Hashem has bestowed upon us and continues to grant us. Even in our current crisis we survive. We must see the many miracles that are performed on our behalf, all the potential terror attacks that are thwarted with Hashem's kindness, how much kindness we are granted in terms of health, family, "nahat" from our children, and livelihood.

So whenever a problem arises, we know that there is but one address: "Turn to Me, and be saved!"

Luna Bat Miriam and Eliyahu Ben Masuda

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