Ki Tisa

Ki Tisa (כי תשא), the twenty-first reading from the Torah, literally means “when you lift up.” It comes from the first words of the second verse of the reading, which could be literally rendered, “When you lift up the head of the sons of Israel to reckon them” (Exodus 30:12). The phrase “lift up the head” is an idiom for taking a head count. The portion begins with instructions for taking a census, finishes up the instructions for making the Tabernacle, reiterates the commandment of Shabbat and then proceeds to tell the story of the golden calf. The majority of Ki Tisa is concerned with the sin of the golden calf, the breach in the covenant between God and Israel, and how Moses undertakes to restore that covenant relationship.

Do you know the story of “The Golden Calf.” Did you see the movie The Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston? Here is a Kabbalistic description of the significance of this week’s portion. Written by one of my teachers a few years ago, Karen Berg, God rest her soul:

“When it comes to meditation, oftentimes, we are asked to close our eyes and seek silence. Isn’t it funny that when we want to “see” more we close our eyes?  Isn’t it interesting that when we want to hear more we need to seek silence? This is because our answers are found within and not “without”. The universe within is far greater than the universe on the outside. The divinity of our soul truly does offer all the answers. Our task is to learn how to silence and remove the outside forces preventing us from going within ourselves. The outside noise can distract us, and even prevent us, from hearing the beautiful music within. 

“Take the inner journey and the road less traveled.”

This week, we take the inner journey and the road less traveled. We travel within where our greatest power resides. If we can let go of the many distractions on the outside that often offer no real solutions, we can hear our inner voice and find the solutions we seek.

Our portion this week is Ki Tisa. Finally, the Tabernacle is near completion. Moses leaves the Israelites to connect and speak directly with the Creator. We reach a high point in the spiritual journey of the Israelites. At this point, Moses receives all the information and energy the Creator has given them: the Torah and the Ten Utterances. The Israelites experienced a complete unification with the Creator, so powerful that for a moment in time, death was wiped away from the Earth. The Israelites connected to their divine spark within. They knew no limitation, possessed all the answers, and felt at peace. However, the Israelites were still tempted to look outside of themselves. Being afraid that Moses had abandon them, in a panic the Israelites made the mistake of going “without” instead of “within”. They created a golden idol to replace Moses. Having done so, they caused the energy they received to be diminished greatly and, as a result, severed their connection with the Creator.  Moses did eventually return and, with the help of the Creator, purified the Israelites and reestablished their connection

“Sometimes all we need to find it is to let go of all the distractions.”

It is not only the Israelites who, in moments when push comes to shove, look for an instant fix to their problems. We all tend to look for someone to save us, a pill to cure us, or a solution from someone who we think is smarter. But just as the Israelites achieved oneness with the Creator, we too, with the support of the Universe this week, can go within and connect to our own sacred and all-knowing divine spark. If we are willing to make the space for it, the connection the Israelites had with the Creator can happen for us in our lives — today. Inside each of us lies all that we ever needed. Inside us is a treasure trove of gifts. Inside we find the answers we seek, the solutions we need, and the courage to fight our fears.

Sometimes all we need to find it is to let go of all the distractions.

This week in your meditations, seek a quiet place and close your eyes. Go within. Breathe deep slow breaths. Become aware of the divine spark of the Creator inside of you. Connect to your inner Light. Feel the great wealth within.

And if you ask a question and listen quietly enough, I just bet you’ll hear an answer. “


Tetzaveh is the twentieth reading from the Torah. Tetzaveh (תצוה) means “You shall command.” The first verse of the reading says, “You shall [command] the sons of Israel, that they bring you clear oil of beaten olives for the light, to make a lamp burn continually” (Exodus 27:20). This portion continues to narrate the instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle. It focuses on the priesthood that was to serve in the sanctuary. The Israelites are instructed to make special garments for Aaron and his sons to wear while ministering as priests. After describing the priestly garments, the portion concludes with instructions for the ritual inauguration of Aaron and his sons into the priesthood.


The nineteenth reading from the Torah is named Terumah (תרומה). In Exodus 25:2, the LORD commanded Moses to “tell the sons of Israel to [take] a contribution for Me.” The word translated as “contribution” is terumah (תרומה), which is the name of this Torah portion. Terumah is a word with no real English equivalent. In the Torah, terumah refers to a certain type of offering dedicated to the Temple, like a tithe or firstfruits offering. In Exodus 25, the contribution is for the building of a holy place. This Torah reading is occupied with the instructions for the building of the Tabernacle and its furnishings.

Especially to those who just finished studying the Nano book ….. Can you see the Phase One suggestion here??


The eighteenth reading from the Torah is named Mishpatim (משפטים), which means “judgments.” The title comes from the first words of the first verse of the reading, which could be literally translated to say, “And these are the judgments which you will place before them” (Exodus 21:1). The first three chapters of this Torah portion deliver a legal code of laws and commandments that form a nucleus for the Torah’s laws. The last chapter tells the story of how the people of Israel consented to keep these laws and entered into a covenant relationship with God through a series of rituals conducted by Moses.


The seventeenth reading from the Torah is named Yitro (יתרו), which is the literal Hebrew behind the name Jethro. The title comes from the first words of the first verse of the reading, which says, “Now Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for Israel His people” (Exodus 18:1). The portion tells the story of Jethro’s visit to the camp of Israel, then relates the great theophany at Mount Sinai, where God gives Israel the Ten Commandments and invites the people to enter a special covenant relationship with Him. Here is an interesting discussion on the portion: