top of page
  • Writer's pictureAyelet HaShachar

Parshat Ki Tisa, by Tanna Klevansky

This Dvar Torah was written by Tanna Klevansky for Parshat Ki Tisa, and was shared at our Kabbalat Shabbat service on 10 March 2023.

Shabbat Shalom everyone. For those who don’t know me, I’m Tanna and it’s great to be here with you all tonight. I feel like I could talk about SO MUCH this week. It’s been a very eventful and important week in both the Jewish and the international calendar.

Firstly, on Tuesday we celebrated Purim! Chag Sameach! I hope you all celebrated and had fun by dressing up, giving mishloach manot, and indulging in hamentashen.

Then, Wednesday was International Women’s Day. Although this day is usually tokenised, it’s a crucial opportunity for the world to celebrate and reflect upon the social, economic, cultural, and political experiences of women - and to drive action against discrimination, domestic violence and all inequality.

This week’s parasha is Ki Tisa, infamously known as the one with the Golden Calf. Most of you will be familiar with it, but here is a super simplified summary. Moses has been up on Mount Sinai for 40 days, and the Israelites are sick and tired of waiting for him. They melt down their gold and create the Golden Calf. They dance around the idol and they pray to it. When Moses descends Mount Sinai, he sees that the Jews have lost their faith in him, and have lost their faith in God. In an act of rage, he smashes the ten commandments, symbolically smashing the Jewish peoples’ covenant with God. In the end, Moses ascends back up the mountain to ask for forgiveness and for a second set of tablets.

Now, I’ve heard this story at least 30 times in my life. There are many lessons we can take away, but one thing struck me so profoundly when reading it this time. And that is the parallels between this story in ancient Israel and the current events occurring in our modern Israel.

This week’s portion is all about how the Jewish people lost their way in their faith. They disregarded their ideology, their belief in Moses and in God, and they threw away their morality.

On February 26th, a Palestinian terrorist opened fired at a travelling car and murdered brothers Hillel and Yagel Yaniv. They were 19 and 21 years old. This horrific act, as with every terror attack committed in the name of Hamas, should never have happened, and we cannot stand for such violence.

However, retaliating with violence is not the answer. The boys were murdered outside of the Palestinian village named Huwara. Later that same day, swarms of Israeli settlers rioted in the region, carrying out horrendous attacks. They marched towards the village chanting “revenge”. They torched Palestinian homes and cars, while residents were still inside them. Over 100 Palestinians were injured as a result of the burning, and Sameh Aqtash, a Palestinian man, was killed. IDF Major General, Yehuda Fuchs, described these events as a pogrom.

The perpetrators had no idea how many men, women and children were being burned, suffocated by smoke, and at the very least losing their homes and belongings. And as the village of Huwara lit up in flames, a group of attackers stood in the glow of the fires they had started, and davened the evening prayer. They stood there watching, and they prayed.

How disconnected have we become as a people from the beautiful, Jewish values we promote? How can our own brothers be breaking our sacred 10 commandments, and then praying Maariv in the midst? This does not make sense. In this moment, I feel like Moses must have felt - descending the mountain to deliver the commandments, and witnessing the complete betrayal of his people.

The burning of Huwara was a complete desecration of our religion. God does not want to hear prayers while we are inflicting violence upon other human beings.

There have to be consequences for those who perpetrated and encouraged the pogrom at Huwara so that something like this can never happen again. We must stand against terrorism on both sides and remember what is true to our religion, just like in the story of the Golden Calf.

At the end of this week’s parasha, Moses ascends the mountain again, in an attempt to mend the “shattered” relationship between God and the Jewish people. As progressive Jews who preach Tikkun Olam, Tzedek, and Democracy (although that’s a whole other can of worms), we need to promote what it really means to be Jewish. This is our role - as Jewish people who care about the humanity and rights of all people.

So, what I want you to take from tonight’s story - is to remember the names of the victims, to pressure organisations like the ZFA and ECAJ to condemn this attack, and to reflect upon how YOU choose to practice your Jewish values.

Shabbat Shalom.

44 views0 comments


bottom of page