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Ki Tisa

Parshat Ki Tisa, Exodus 30:11-34:35 כִּי תִשָּׂא. a.k.a. Ki Sisa, Ki Thisa

Half-Shekel – Metaphor for Entanglement

This they shall give, everyone who goes through the counting: half a shekel according to the holy shekel. Twenty gerahs equal one shekel; half of a shekel shall be an offering to the Lord Ex. 30:13 In this week’s Torah portion, Ki Tisa (Ex. 30), Jewish people are given the commandment of donating a coin as atonement, not just a coin – half a coin. But why half? If God thought, twenty gerahs would be too much, He could have commanded Moses to mint another coin worth ten gerahs. But no, the coin was to remain what it was—worth twenty gerahs—and Jews were to give half a coin. Don’t you find it peculiar? I don’t, because half-coins are my favorite metaphor when explaining entanglement to my physics students. What is entanglement? When obtaining [...]

Thou Shall Not Be a Flipper

Reading the Haftorah this Shabbat brought to mind scenes from the 2004 Republican National Convention in Madison Square Garden in New York City where attendees where waving pictures of John Kerry  chanting “Flip-flop, flip-flop…” referring to Kerry’s ever changing position on the war in Iraq (“First I voted for it, before I voted against it”) and other political issues.  Former Governor of New York State, George Pataki, said there, “This year, we will win one for the Gipper, and they will lose one with the Flipper.” Kerry lost, as flippers usually do. This Haftorah (weekly portion of Prophets read publicly in Synagogues) starts with an astonishing statement of Elyahy Hanavi (Elijah the Prophet), “How long will you waver between two ideas? If the Lord is God, follow Him, and if the Baal, follow him.” (Melachim-I [...]