Well. . . Our people are up to their old ways this week. Not only do the ancient Hebrews convince themselves that Hashem and Moses have abandoned them once again, they also plead with Aaron to smelt another golden calf. All this happens after the community is asked to pay half a sheckle in tithes while Bezalel and Oholiab start to craft the past few week’s commandments into physicality. Throw in a commandment to always honor Shabbat and you have a lot of invested effort making a walk away from Hashem highly unlikely.
On the surface so many things take place in Ki Tisa one can very easily come away feeling overwhelmed. If that is not enough to make you say “Woah” just beneath the surface the depths of meaning are endless. If you have yet to read this week’s portion , stop right here and go and do it! Fear not I will be right hear where you left me.
Choices, choices, choices…seriously where to begin? Better to choose just one lesson and run, right? Right! Ki Tisa shows us that being Jewish is easier than it seems. Judaism is simply choosing Hashem and His traditions. That latter part has really been expounded upon throughout the centuries but the former remains as is. The anger in this week’s portion exuded verbally by Hashem and Moses and physically by Levitical sword stems from a heart piercing betrayal by the ancient Hebrews. Once again they chose to turn their backs to Hashem and their faces towards a golden calf. Hardly a coincidence then that Moses sees the back of Hashem and then begins to cover his face with a vale.
Three thousand men are figuratively and literally cut from Judaism for two specific reasons. First, this is the second time their hearts yearned for an inanimate god and second the ancient Hebrew’s society was the first true state of Israel. The Hebrew Tribes were surrounded by non-nomadic people worshiping man made divinity, simply put nothing was stopping those slain from leaving the tribe for more “golden” pastures. They chose to stay, stray, and hope for the day when their agenda was the majority one.
Today drawing swords and cleaning the proverbial house is antiquated to say the least, but that doesn’t mean we can’t turn inwards and cut out those things that are foreign parasites feeding off our sparks. Judaism like ever other religion is not hyphenated you can not choose Hashem and attach a belief in other deities to your faith. If you feel called to another faith don’t be hindered by your upbringing or family name, if you allow that to happen your diminishing yourself and the Jewish faith. In essence go and be the best practitioner you can be.
Learning about and from others is crucial to a fearless and fulfilling life but at some point you have to be true to your spark. The many traditions within Judaism often times seem at odds with each other over Halakha but choosing Hashem and Hashem only is the lynchpin that keeps us who we are.