Rabbi Robinson Sermon Feb 18 2022

Ki Tissa for Reading

Source Sheet by Yair Robinson



Exodus 34:1-7

(1) יהוה said to Moses: “Carve two tablets of stone like the first, and I will inscribe upon the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you shattered. (2) Be ready by morning, and in the morning come up to Mount Sinai and present yourself there to Me, on the top of the mountain. (3) No one else shall come up with you, and no one else shall be seen anywhere on the mountain; neither shall the flocks and the herds graze at the foot of this mountain.” (4) So Moses carved two tablets of stone, like the first, and early in the morning he went up on Mount Sinai, as יהוה had commanded him, taking the two stone tablets with him. (5) יהוה came down in a cloud—and stood with him there, proclaiming the name יהוה. (6) יהוה passed before him and proclaimed: “יהוה ! יהוה ! a God compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and faithfulness, (7) extending kindness to the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin—yet not remitting all punishment, but visiting the iniquity of parents upon children and children’s children, upon the third and fourth generations.”


שמות ל״ד:א׳-ז׳

(א) וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהֹוָה֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה פְּסׇל־לְךָ֛ שְׁנֵֽי־לֻחֹ֥ת אֲבָנִ֖ים כָּרִאשֹׁנִ֑ים וְכָתַבְתִּי֙ עַל־הַלֻּחֹ֔ת אֶ֨ת־הַדְּבָרִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר הָי֛וּ עַל־הַלֻּחֹ֥ת הָרִאשֹׁנִ֖ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר שִׁבַּֽרְתָּ׃ (ב) וֶהְיֵ֥ה נָכ֖וֹן לַבֹּ֑קֶר וְעָלִ֤יתָ בַבֹּ֙קֶר֙ אֶל־הַ֣ר סִינַ֔י וְנִצַּבְתָּ֥ לִ֛י שָׁ֖ם עַל־רֹ֥אשׁ הָהָֽר׃ (ג) וְאִישׁ֙ לֹֽא־יַעֲלֶ֣ה עִמָּ֔ךְ וְגַם־אִ֥ישׁ אַל־יֵרָ֖א בְּכׇל־הָהָ֑ר גַּם־הַצֹּ֤אן וְהַבָּקָר֙ אַל־יִרְע֔וּ אֶל־מ֖וּל הָהָ֥ר הַהֽוּא׃ (ד) וַיִּפְסֹ֡ל שְׁנֵֽי־לֻחֹ֨ת אֲבָנִ֜ים כָּרִאשֹׁנִ֗ים וַיַּשְׁכֵּ֨ם מֹשֶׁ֤ה בַבֹּ֙קֶר֙ וַיַּ֙עַל֙ אֶל־הַ֣ר סִינַ֔י כַּאֲשֶׁ֛ר צִוָּ֥ה יְהֹוָ֖ה אֹת֑וֹ וַיִּקַּ֣ח בְּיָד֔וֹ שְׁנֵ֖י לֻחֹ֥ת אֲבָנִֽים׃ (ה) וַיֵּ֤רֶד יְהֹוָה֙ בֶּֽעָנָ֔ן וַיִּתְיַצֵּ֥ב עִמּ֖וֹ שָׁ֑ם וַיִּקְרָ֥א בְשֵׁ֖ם יְהֹוָֽה׃ (ו) וַיַּעֲבֹ֨ר יְהֹוָ֥ה ׀ עַל־פָּנָיו֮ וַיִּקְרָא֒ יְהֹוָ֣ה ׀ יְהֹוָ֔ה אֵ֥ל רַח֖וּם וְחַנּ֑וּן אֶ֥רֶךְ אַפַּ֖יִם וְרַב־חֶ֥סֶד וֶאֱמֶֽת׃ (ז) נֹצֵ֥ר חֶ֙סֶד֙ לָאֲלָפִ֔ים נֹשֵׂ֥א עָוֺ֛ן וָפֶ֖שַׁע וְחַטָּאָ֑ה וְנַקֵּה֙ לֹ֣א יְנַקֶּ֔ה פֹּקֵ֣ד ׀ עֲוֺ֣ן אָב֗וֹת עַל־בָּנִים֙ וְעַל־בְּנֵ֣י בָנִ֔ים עַל־שִׁלֵּשִׁ֖ים וְעַל־רִבֵּעִֽים׃

I’m sure you read this week about the poor priest who resigned after discovering that, having gotten one word consistently wrong–saying we instead of I–up to 20,000 baptisms turn out to be invalid. You have to feel badly for this person who made the littlest of little mistakes, but in so doing upended his congregation’s spiritual life.


We are told so often that there cannot be room for error. But we are human beings, endlessly fallible. There always has to be room for error, because there’s always the possibility that we will err. Each of us are going to make mistakes, but the beautiful thing is that each of us also has the opportunity to correct our behaviors and our actions, to make up for our mistakes. And in this text, God teaches us that we should be as forgiving of mistakes–errors, transgressions, sins–as possible. Israel has created a Golden Calf and worshiped it, as great a violation of the Torah as you’re going to get. Moses, enraged, smashes the tablets of the commandments–a point God makes over and over again. But Israel atones. Moses climbs up the mountain and makes a new set of tablets. And God proclaims the divine attributes of mercy, of grace, which we recite at the High Holidays and festivals. Before, in Exodus 20, God only says that God loves those who fulfill the mitzvot; there is no word of forgiveness. Here, God adds that God will forgive transgressions. Which teaches us that if God can forgive those two offenses, we can forgive a whole lot ourselves.


Tonight, we get to celebrate new life, and get to welcome Lauren into the household of Israel. She has two amazing parents, Mike and Sarah, loving grandparents and aunts and uncles. And she will have friends and is already a regular here. And they’re all going to make mistakes. And Lauren is going to make mistakes. And that’s okay. From those mistakes they will learn, and she will learn. And God willing, she and her family and all of us will grow in mercy and grace ourselves. Amen.

Source Sheet created on Sefaria by Yair Robinson