This week's Parshah discusses three major things: the Mishkan, the Golden Calf and the second tablets.

The Mishkan

We've already discussed G‑d's instructions to build the Mishkan for two full Parshahiot (Torah portions), and we hear a little more about it here.

  • Every Jew should give half a shekel towards the building of the Mishkan. These coins will also be used to count the Jews.
  • A washbasin of copper should be placed at the entrance to the Mishkan, and Aaron and his sons should wash their hands and feet before they perform the services
  • A recipe of oil with spices is described which Moses is to make and pour on the Mishkan and all its vessels, anointing them and making them holy for use.
  • Next is described the secret recipe for the ketoret, the sacrifice of incense that was brought on the Golden Altar.
  • Two master craftsmen, Bezalel and Oholiab, are put in charge of the building of the Mishkan.

The Jews again receive the commandment to keep the Sabbath.

The Golden Calf

After the Jews heard the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai, Moses went up the mountain to receive the Two Tablets from G‑d. The Jews know he is supposed to come down after forty days, but they miscalculate, and when he doesn't come down when they expect him to, they get confused as to what has happened to him. They build a golden calf and make it into an idol, serving, worshipping and bringing to it sacrifices.

When G‑d sees this, he is very angry, and wants to destroy the whole Jewish nation, telling Moses that he will start a new nation from him. Moses prays for the Jews, begging G‑d to save them. Moses then takes the Tablets down the mountain. When he nears the camp of the Jews and sees the Golden Calf, he throws down the Tablets, shattering them, and destroys the Golden Calf. Moses then gathers all the Levites and they kill all those who were involved in the building of the Golden Calf.

Then Moses goes back to G‑d and prays for the Jews. He even tells G‑d that if He doesn't forgive their sin, G‑d should take his name out of the entire Torah. G‑d forgives, but the the Jews are punished with a plague, and the affects of the sin are felt for a long time.

G‑d tells Moses that He will now send an angel to accompany them, but Moses says that they refuse to go unless G‑d Himself comes along. And so G‑d agrees that He Himself will accompany the Jews to the Holy Land.

Moses prepares a new set of tablets and goes up again to the mountain so G‑d can inscribe the Ten Commandments in them. On the mountain, Moses sees a vision of G‑d's glory, and when he comes down, his face shines so brightly that he must wear a veil. He takes off the veil only to speak to G‑d and to teach the Jews the Torah.