The Israelites are being counted (a census) but we are not allowed to count human beings. Humans are created in the image of God, counting us is like counting how much Divine presence is in the world. So each person gives half a Shekel “The rich are not to give more than a half shekel and the poor are not to give less” and we count the money. This money pays for the ongoing expenses of the temple.
- We are all created equal.
- You want to be counted as part of the Jewish community, you need to participate in the financial burden of maintaining it.
Ki Tisa Summary:
Moses takes a census of the Israelites and collects a half-shekel from each person (30:11-16) God tells Moses to construct a water basin and to prepare anointing oil and incense for the ordination of the priests. Bezalel and Oholiab, skilled artisans, are assigned to make objects for the priests and the Tabernacle. (30:17-31:11) The Israelites are instructed to keep Shabbat as a sign of their covenant with God. God gives Moses the two tablets of the Pact. (31:12-18) The Israelites ask Aaron to build them a Golden Calf. Moses implores God not to destroy the people and then breaks the two tablets of the Pact on which the Ten Commandments are written when he sees the idol. God punishes the Israelites by means of a plague. (32:1-35) Moses goes up the mountain with a blank set of tablets for another 40 days so that God will again inscribe the Ten Commandments. Other laws, including the edict to observe the Pilgrimage Festivals, are also revealed. (34:1-28) Moses comes down from the mountain with a radiant face. (34:29-35)