Jewish Texts

Ki Tavo

(Adapted from Rabbi David Steinhardt)

Big Ideas:

    • The Jewish People are entering the Land of Israel.
    • God introduces a 4-step method to ease their transition:
        • 1: Bring a bikkurim (fruit offering)
        • 2: Recite a statement reminding them of their history
        • 3: Share this with others (especially the less-fortunate)
        • 4: Then they can enjoy their fruit (and party)
    • Preservation of a shared history and what is important before the next chapter.

Each step reminds us of something different:

    • 1: There is something bigger than ourselves that determines our well-being and success. Never lose our humility and God should always be part of our lives.
    • 2: Remember your roots, your family heritage, and the sacrifice and struggles they made for you to be here today.
    • 3: We have an obligation to others who are not as fortunate as we are to be ambassadors of Judaism and Israel. We have a great responsibility.
    • 4: We should enjoy our lives and celebrate our simchot together as a community.

Ki Tisa


Section 1

God commands Moses to take a census of the Jewish adult male population by collecting an atonement offering of half a silver shekel from each individual to help build the Tabernacle and its contents. This lengthy aliyah concludes with God telling the Jewish people to observe Shabbat, the eternal sign between God and the Children of Israel.

Meanwhile, Moses is up on Mr. Sinai retrieving the Commandments. The Jews miscalculate when Moses is supposed to return, and when he doesn't appear on the day when they anticipate him, they grow impatient and demand of Aaron to make for them a new god. Aaron cooperates (we assume he is intending all along to postpone, buying time until Moses' return). A Golden Calf emerges from the flames. The festivities and sacrifices start early next morning.

Section 2

Moses please with an incensed God to forgive the Israelites' sin of building a golden calf to worship. God gives in, and relents from the plan to annihilate the Jews. Moses comes down with the Tablets, sees the idolatrous revelry, and breaks the Tablets. Moses enlists the Tribe of Levi to punish the primary offenders. Three thousand idol worshipers are executed that day. Moses ascends Mt. Sinai again, in an attempt to gain complete atonement for the sin. God tells Moses to lead the Israelites towards the Promised Land, but insists that God will not be leading them personally; instead, and angel will be dispatched to lead them. Seeing God's displeasure with the Jews, Moses takes his own tent and pitches it outside the Israelite encampment. This tent becomes the center of study and spirituality until the Tabernacle is built.

Section 3

Moses requests that God's presence only dwell with the Jews, and God agrees. Moses requests to be shown God's glory, and God agrees, but informs Moses that he will only be shown God's "back," not God's "face." God tells Moses to carve new tablets, upon which God will engrave the Ten Commandments. Moses takes the new tablets up to Mt. Sinai, where God reveals Their glory to Moses while proclaiming Their 13 Attributes of Mercy.

When Moses comes down from Mt. Sinai with the second tablets, beams of light were shining from his face, although he wasn't aware this was happening. Aaron and the people are originally afraid of him. Moses teaches the people the Torah he studied on the mountain. Moses wears a veil on his face from that time on, but removes it when speaking to God and when repeating God's words to the people.


Mishnah Stations

Station 1: Students will watch the Mishnah video from and complete a posterboard activity where they match who compiled mishnayot and who baraitot. Station supervisor will then add that many baraitot were included in Talmud, so that Talmud is made of mishnayot, baraitot, and commentary on these.

Station 2: Students will read their Mishnah sheets*** and complete a posterboard activity where they map out the organization of the Mishnah.

Station 3: Students will read selections from Torah and Mishnah dealing with the laws of Pesach. They will create a 3-way Venn diagram of Torah’s laws, Mishnah’s laws, and our practices today.

*** From Project Etgar curriculum. Any page describing the Mishnah will work.



Section 1

Moses gathers all the Jews to the Tabernacle to witness the Divine Presence descending upon the Sanctuary that day. Aaron offers various sacrifices in preparation for the revelation.

Section 2

After concluding the offering of all the sacrifices, Aaron blesses the people with the priestly blessing. Moses and Aaron bless the Jewish people, that God's Presence dwell in their handiwork, and indeed, the Divine Presence visibly descends upon the Tabernacle.

Section 3

At this point, a heavenly fire descends and consumes the offerings on the altar. Aaron's eldest two sons, Nadav and Avihu, bring an unauthorized incense offering. The heavenly fire consumes the men. Moses orders the removal of their bodies from the Tabernacle, and instructs Aaron and his remaining two sons not to observe the traditional laws of mourning, considering that, as priests, they were required to continue serving in the Sanctuary on behalf of the Israelite people. The priests are instructed not to drink wine before performing Temple service.

Section 4

God gives the commandments of Kashrut, explaining how to distinguish between kosher and non-kosher animals, fish, and birds. Kosher animals must chew their cud, and have cloven hooves. The Torah lists 4 animals that have only one of these attributes, but not both, and are therefore non-kosher. Kosher fish must have fins and scales. The Torah then discusses the ritual impurity caused by coming in contact with the carcass of a non-kosher animal, as well as certain species of rodents and amphibian creatures.

We learn of the possibility of foods and utensils gaining ritual impurity if they come in contact with any of the aforementioned impurities. The Torah then mentions the impurity contracted through coming in contact with the carcass of a kosher animal which was not ritually slaughtered. We are commanded not to consume insects or reptiles, though a few bugs are listed as kosher. The reading closes with a charge, that we must remain holy by abstaining from eating all forbidden foods.

Sibling Rivalry in Torah


  • Cain and Abel: Genesis 4
  • Jacob and Esau: Genesis 25:19-34; 26:34-35; 27-28:9; 32:4-33:20; 36:1-8
  • Jacob's sons: Genesis 37:1-25
  • Moses and his siblings: Exodus 1-2; 3:16-4:31


  • What is the conflict between the siblings and what feelings do they have for one another? What seems to be the root cause of the conflict?
  • How do the siblings handle the conflict?
  • How is the conflict resolved - or not?

Make Your Own Midrash

A midrash is something that the rabbis created when there were unanswered questions about a story in the Torah. For example, Moses had a speech impediment, but Torah does not give us any more details about it, or how he got it. A midrash was written that explains the speech impediment/lisp was caused by God touching his lips during their first encounter.

Your job is to try to explain the details left out of the stories of sibling rivalry we are reading. What details are missing? What backstory would make the story more meaningful? This is your chance to be creative and add to Torah!


  • write a rap
  • make a skit
  • write a 'Dear Abby' letter (a character writes a letter to a 'help' column in the newspaper for advice about their life)
  • create a cartoon
  • make a reality TV show-style confessional

Sifrei Kodesh Kahoots

Sifrei Kodesh pt. 1

Sifrei Kodesh pt. 2

These Kahoots deal with textual/historical content from the 600s BCE to 200 CE with the codification of the Mishnah. Students must have internet access on electronic devices; recommend no more than 3:1, students to devices. Students will select from multiple-choice answers.

Online Resources

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