I found myself thinking very much contemplating the sitra achre, the negative influences and power in the world this week. This week the Jewish people sin with a Golden Calf at the base of Mr. Sinai, just when they are supposed to reach the highest heights!Â This is the week when Jews show their doubt in Hashem, and Moshe. The great power of the Red Sea is forgotten, and they latch on to the strong pull of doubt, bad vibes.Â Whenever there is a power of kedusha, holiness in the world, the negative influences in the world seem to bring it down.Â Don’tÂ let the nay sayers win, we were put here for a holy mission, and each Jew has a role to play. Good Shabbos.
Note: The Shabbos Torah Reading is divided into 7 sections. Each section is called an Aliya [literally: Go up] since for each Aliya, one person “goes up” to make a bracha [blessing] on the Torah Reading.
1st Aliya: This first Aliya concludes the details of the Mishkan’s construction. The Bnai Yisroel are commanded to give the half Shekel toward a national census and the purchasing of the public offerings. The copper washstand, the Kiyor, is described along with the ingredients and laws of the anointing oil and the Ketores – the incense. Betzallel, the son of Chur and grandson of Miriam is identified as the chief artisan and architect of the Mishkan. (Note: he was only 13 yr. old!) The Mitzvah of Shabbos is commanded. Its juxtaposition to the details of the Mishkan provides the Gemara with the source for determining the 39 categories of Melacha prohibited on Shabbos.Â
2nd Aliya: The story of the Golden Calf is told. Moshe ascended Sinai on the morning of Sivan 7, and remained 40 days and nights. The 7th didn’t start with a night, so it wasn’t included in the total of 40. The Jews mistakenly assumed that it was to be included and expected Moshe back on the morning of Tamuz 16. Instead, he returned the morning of Tamuz 17. By midday of the 16th, the Jews were already desperate. Chur attempts to reason with them and is killed. They approach Aharon who attempts to redirect their terror which results in the Golden Calf. Moshe appears the next morning, breaks the Luchos, marshals the tribe of Levi, and 3000 people are killed. Moshe demands Hashem’s forgiveness for the people, but moves the Ohel Moed out from the midst of the camp. Yehoshua is proclaimed the main student of Moshe.
3rd & 4th Aliyot: Moshe requests to understand Hashem’s system of justice. He is granted a greater understanding of Hashem than any other person in history, but is denied the ability to comprehend divine justice.
5th Aliya: Moshe is instructed to cut two new Luchos and ascend Sinai. Moshe is taught the secret formula for Teshuva (the Thirteen Names of G-d as He Manifests His Mercy) (34:6) and G-d forgives the Bnai Yisroel.
6th Aliya: Hashem establishes a new covenant with the people. He forewarns them against the influences of assimilation and intermarriage and forbids them to make any treaties with the inhabitants of Canaan. The holidays of Pesach, Shevout, and Succos are reviewed, as well as Shabbos and the basic law of Kashrus.
7th Aliya: Moshe remains on Sinai another 40 days and nights and returns on Yom Kippur carrying the second Luchos. The people see that the very being of Moshe had been transformed and that his face radiated with a inner light. Moshe fashions for himself a veil that he would wear at all times, except when receiving a prophecy and when transmitting the word of G-d to the people.