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. “