Ki Tissa (When You Take) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion
THIS WEEK’S TORAH PORTION:
Ki Tisa (כי תשא | When you take)
Torah: Exodus 30:11-34:35
Haftarah: 1 Kings 18:1-39
Gospel: Matthew 9:35-11:1
This Week’s Torah Portion | February 21 – February 27, 2016 – 12 Adar I – 18 Adar I, 5776
Torah Portion for February 21-27, 2016
THIS WEEK’S TORAH PORTION:
From ancient times there has been a weekly portion (Parashah) from the first five books of Moses (The Torah) and an ending (Haftarah) from the Prophets read on the Sabbath in synagogues around the world. This portion is given a Hebrew name drawn from the opening words of the Torah passage. An illustration of this practice appears to have been recorded in Luke 4:16 where Yeshua (Jesus) arrived in the synagogue in Nazareth and was asked to read the portion (Isaiah 61) from the Prophets.
We have found that in perusing these weekly readings, not only are we provided opportunity to identify in the context of God’s Word with millions of Jewish people around the world, but very often the Holy Spirit will illumine specific passages pertinent that week in our intercession for the Land and people of Israel. The Haftarah, unless otherwise noted, will be that read in Ashkenazy synagogues around the world. The references for all texts are those found in English translations of the Scriptures.
The readings for this week February 21-27, 2016 are called Ki Tisa—“When You Raise Up”
TORAH: Exodus 30:11—34:35
HAFTARAH: I Kings 18:1-39
*Exodus 30:11-12. “Then YHVH spoke to Moses, saying: ‘When you take the census of the children of Israel for their number…”
“Take the Census” is “to raise up (Ki Tisa) the heads”, in some ways similar to our English expression “to take a head-count.” This was to be accompanied by a ransom, shekel tax, being paid by everyone counted, otherwise the people would find protection lifted and themselves opened to plague (vs 12). Perhaps it was through neglect of these instructions that King David would bring plague upon his own people in II Samuel 24.
*Exodus 31:2-5. “See, I have called by name Betzalel…and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom in intelligence, in knowledge, and in all craftsmanship, to design artistic works…and I, indeed I, have appointed with him Aholiav…and in the heart of all gifted artisans [Heb: wise-hearts] I have put wisdom to make all I have commanded.”
The name Betzalel means, “In the shadow of God.” Aholiav means, “Father is my tent.” We are all creative beings, made in the image of our Creator. Some have been granted a special measure of gifting in order to artistically fashion articles (or sounds) which will reflect certain aspects of God’s glory and thus bring Him honour (such artists are called “wise hearts” in Exodus 28:3). The safe place for all with such callings is under the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1)—within the tent of our Father (Psalm 27:5). It is He who desires to fill artists (there are many artistic skills mentioned here) with His Spirit to “make all that He commands.” Tragically, at the very time these instructions were being given to Moses on the mountain, Aaron (most certainly not moving under “the shadow of God”), was being coerced by the desires of those around him to use his creative gifts in fashioning an idol (Ex. 32:4). Rather than being used by the Holy Spirit to aid the people in worshipping the true God, the creative fashioning of his hands would itself be worshipped.
PLEASE PRAY: for godly “Betzalels” and “Aholiavs” to be nurtured and brought forth in Israel today, that they will move in a humble awareness that their creative gifts, wisdom, intelligence, knowledge and craftsmanship are from God, to fulfill a work for His glory—His is their high destiny. Pray that they seek to be filled by His spirit—and resist the spirit of the world which seeks to divert the creativity of the children of Adam (who were made in the Image of a creative God) away from honouring their Maker. Pray that they realize that He knows them and (as with Betzalel) calls them by name!
*Exodus 31:17. “It [i.e. the Sabbath] is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days YHVH made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He ceased work and was refreshed.”
We should be cautious about saying things like “Although God ceased work on the seventh day, it wasn’t because he was tired and in need of a rest, etc.” Of course there are mysteries here deeper than we can understand; nevertheless, this passage states clearly that on the seventh day God “ceased work and was refreshed.” The Hebrew word for “refreshed” literally could be rendered “was souled.” So David could confidently speak of the LORD as One who intimately understands his weary servant’s needs so as to “restore my soul!” (Psalm 23:3).
*Exodus 32:1-5, 19.
The children of Israel were a people sovereignly chosen and set-apart by God. Last week we saw how from among these people Aaron and his house were themselves chosen to minister before the LORD as His priests (Exodus 28:1). And of course, Moses was raised up from birth to oversee and lead the people. Yet it will become abundantly clear in this reading that none of these callings, choosings and positionings were because of the righteousness of the people; alas, all are under sin (Romans 3:9). That will have to be faced, acknowledged and dealt with.
The people, who, a short time before, had “with one voice” twice promised, even in the context of covenant, that “All the words which YHVH has said we will do…we will be obedient” (Exodus 24:3, 7), this people, after Moses is gone for less than a month, abandon their promise and demand of Aaron to make new gods to go before them (32:1). Aaron, who had been warned against giving in to “mob rule” (23:2), under the first pressure does so—in so doing breaking the 1st and 2nd Commandments. He then breaks God’s command (20:23) not to “make anything to be with Me” by proclaiming a feast to YHVH along with the worship of the idol he has just fashioned.
And Moses, to whom God had given the tablets of stone, commandments which would be the basis for all other Law, tablets which God had written, to be used by Moses in teaching the people (24:12)—tablets which were themselves the “work of God” upon which was engraved the “writing of God” written with “the finger of God” (32:16; 31:18)—Moses, in a fit of anger, pays no attention to all of that and smashes them to pieces.
*Exodus 32:11-13. “Then Moses pleaded with the LORD his God [Hebrew: ‘yearned after the face of YHVH his God’] and said, ‘LORD, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people…Turn from Your fierce wrath and relent from this harm to Your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, “I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of I give to your seed, and they shall inherit it forever.”’”
In Exodus 32:32 Moses continues to stand in the gap, pleading that they be forgiven for their sin.
PLEASE PRAY: for spiritual leaders to have the zeal, unction, love and grace to seek the face of God on behalf of errant Israel; to prevail in intercession to turn away His just wrath that His eternal will for her will be fulfilled on earth as it is in heaven.
*Exodus 32:19. “So it was, as soon as he came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing. So Moses’ anger became hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain.”
PLEASE PRAY: for the souls (Psalm 25:1, 20) of Israeli spiritual leaders—that they not be controlled by their emotions—that they allow the Holy Spirit to work His self-control. There is a place for godly zeal, but the “anger of man does not work the righteousness of God” (James 1:20). It would be an eruption of this same anger some time later which would in the end bar Moses from entering the Promised Land.
*Exodus 33:7-11. “Moses took his tent and pitched it outside the camp, far from the camp, and called it the ‘tent of meeting’. And it came to pass that everyone who sought the LORD went out to the tent of meeting which was outside the camp…And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tent, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tent, and talked with Moses…So the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tent.”
In Exodus 25:22, the LORD had given instructions regarding the disposition of the Mishkan (Dwelling Place/Tabernacle) so that He might meet at appointed times with a representative of His people. But here, Moses prepares a place so that he or anyone else might choose to make his own appointed meetings with God—and God honoured those times with His presence. Although His face would not be seen (vs 20), He nevertheless met face to face with those who chose to draw near. Alas, besides Moses, only Joshua (who would one day be prepared to lead Israel into Canaan) appears to have taken advantage of this wonderful opportunity.
PLEASE PRAY: For Israeli believers, in all the rush and hurry, to go beyond ‘head knowledge’ of the Law and the Prophets and the Gospel—and avail themselves of the privilege of setting aside a ‘place’ for private, intimate times Face to Face with God!
*Exodus 33:15. “Then he said to Him, ‘If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here…”
Here the word “presence” is literally “Face.” Psalm 44:3 says, “It was not by our sword that we took the land, nor did our arm bring us the victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the Light of Your Face, for You loved us!”
*Exodus 33:13, 18. “Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people….Please, show me Your glory.”
PLEASE PRAY: for leaders in Israel (both believers and those still secular), to like Moses be moved to call on the LORD for guidance to be shown His way. Pray that we find grace in His sight, that our leadership will be fueled and heartened by longings after his Glory and glimpses of His Beauty (Psalm 27:4).
*Exodus 33:18-19. “And he said, ‘Please, show me Your glory.’ “Then He said, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you…’”
We think it to be very significant that although Moses requests to be shown the LORD’s glory, what he needs first is a revelation of His goodness. Doubts as to that goodness were among the first strategies used by the Evil One in the Garden, and is still what he attempts to use to undermine our faith today. The most-repeated song of Faith in the Scriptures is, “Give thanks to the LORD for He is good, and His kindness endures forever.” And David was convinced that since the LORD was his shepherd, “Goodness and kindness will pursue me all the days of my life (Psalm 23:16), and would have despaired had he not had faith to see the “goodness of the LORD in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13).
Exodus 33:21-22. “And the LORD said, ‘Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by.”
Centuries later, the prophet Elijah fleeing from the wrath of Jezebel would come to this same mountain; and the Hebrew of I Kings 19:9 says He went into the cave to spend the night—and there the Word of the LORD came to him. Jewish teachers have traditionally identified this cave with that same “cleft” in which Moses had been placed by God.
*Exodus 33:22-23. “So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.”
Might there be significance in the fact that the word translated “hand” is not that usually used for hand, but the word for “palm?” In answer to Moses’ request to be shown the LORD’s “glory”—God had responded that His goodness would pass before him…a Goodness which in following verses (34:6-8) would be shown to include forgiveness—the very “bearing away of sin.” Might the “goodness” in the One who would descend and stand with him there (vs.34:5) have included a glimpse of what those palms and that back would one day be required to bear on Man’s behalf?
*Exodus 34:6-7. “YHVH, YHVH-Elohim, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in loving kindnesss and truth (Hebrew: chesed v’emet), keeping loving kindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…”
The Hebrew word used here for “forgiving” is nasah (that for “pardon” in vs 9 is a different word). Nasah has to do with “lifting, carrying, bearing away”—something which only God Himself would be able to do for the “iniquity, transgression and sin of thousands.”. This is the word used in Hebrew translations of John 1:29 when John announces the Son of God, “Behold! The Lamb of God who bears away the sin of the world!”
The Torah and Haftarah portions for next week February 28 — March 5, 2016 are called : VaYakhel–“And He Assembled”:
TORAH: Exodus 35:1—38:20
Shabbat Sh’kalim: Exodus 30:11-16
HAFTARAT Shabbat Sh’kalim: II Kings 12:1-17
In A Nutshell
The portion, Ki Tissa (When You Take), begins with a request of each one of the children of Israel to donate half a shekel for the building of the tabernacle. The portion mentions some other details about the tabernacle such as the anointing oil, the table, and the menorah and its vessels, appointing Bezalel, son of Uri Ben Hur, as chief craftsman, Ahaliav Ben Ahisemech as his assistant, and commanding the children of Israel to observe the Sabbath.
Later, Moses ascends to Mount Sinai to receive the tablets of the covenant but delays in his return, so the children of Israel seek proof that the Creator exists and demand of Aaron to build a golden calf. Aaron agrees, takes their gold vessels, melts them, and builds the golden calf.
When Moses returns from the mountain and sees it, the tablets of the covenant break. The Creator wishes to destroy and ruin the entire people of Israel, and Moses pleads for their souls.
Moses speaks to the Creator “face to face,” and wishes to conceal himself.
At the end of the process, the Creator agrees and makes a covenant with the people of Israel. The Creator also promises Israel that they will enter the land of Israel, and repeats the commandment of the three Pilgrimage festivals (Shalosh Regalim) and the prohibition of idolatry.
Moses stays with the Creator on Mount Sinai forty days and forty nights, writes on the tablets, and comes down from the mountain. It is written, “And it came to pass when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tables of the testimony in Moses’ hand … that Moses did not know that the skin of his face beamed while He talked with him” (Exodus, 34:29). It was so much so that he had to hide himself from the people once more because they feared speaking with him.
Those who do not know the language of Kabbalah will find it hard to understand that the text actually discusses a person’s inner development. It concerns our nature, which is the will to receive, an egoistic desire that requires correction. The Torah speaks only of the correction of the desire, as it is written, “I have created the evil inclination; I have created for it the Torah as a spice” because “the light in it would reform them.”
The purpose of the correction is to transform our evil (egoistic) inclination, which aims only toward self-gratification and exploitation of the entire world for itself, and turn it into love of others, as in “love your neighbor as yourself.”
The Torah speaks of a process that is not simple, but which all of us experience. The general crisis we are in will cause us to come out to the light, to correction, similar to the exodus from Egypt. Today we are all standing before Mount Sinai with a huge ego, with all the Kelim (vessels) we have taken from Egypt. During the millennia of development, humanity has accumulated a massive ego; now we have no clue what to do with it, other than escape it.
When we are drawn toward Mount Sinai we discover a mountain of hate between us. Only the point within us, called Moses, pulls us forward toward connection with something higher, a higher degree—human degree of similarity with the Creator.
We are all still as beasts, operated entirely by egos, our nature. Instead, we must be as a free nation in our country, free in its will. “Such is the way of Torah.”
To do that, one who wishes to ascend to the human degree, and discover the Creator and the worlds around us must follow the unique line known as “half a shekel,” meaning neither to the right nor to the left, but the joining of the two. The will to receive, too, takes part because it is “help made against us” (Genesis, 2:18), and against it you need the reforming light.
We have two lines: on the left is the will to receive; on the right is the light. The more we combine them, the more we correct the will to receive to similarity with the light—working in order to bestow. It is written, “And the night will shine as the day; darkness as light” (Psalms, 139:12). This is how we advance. This is the first correction—no more and no less, but precisely half. We advance when we achieve that correction, that method of advancement.
Subsequently, the tabernacle and its vessels must be prepared, including the oil and all that comes with it. The role was given only to Bezalel. Bezalel within us is that which is Betzel El (in the shadow of God), under the shadow of the Creator. Bezalel replicates the qualities from the Creator, who appears to him, and this is why he is called “wisehearted.” He knows the right combination between the heart, the desire, and the wisdom, namely the intellect. Bezalel properly combines the right with the left, and has wisdom of the heart. This is why he is the one who can establish the tabernacle.
The tabernacle is the arrangement of the soul that we build within us from our 613 desires. It is built according to the right qualities, in which all the parts are connected in synchrony with the Creator. This is how we become similar to Him.
Our evil inclination has 613 qualities we must aim in order to bestow, toward love of others. Only those who have the quality of Bezalel—copying the qualities of the Creator onto oneself and becoming as His shadow—can do it.
Achieving this is done by connecting to the Shechina (Divinity), Malchut of Atzilut, who begins to replicate these qualities from Zeir Anpin of Atzilut. Zeir Anpin has six Sephirot: Hesed, Gevura, Tifferet, Netzah, Hod, and Yesod, where Malchut comes last and replicates. This is why our work is to replicate these six qualities from Zeir Anpin—called HaKadosh Baruch Hu (The Holy One, Blessed Be He), or Zeir Anpin of Atzilut—in the appearance of the Creator on all the workdays.
The wisdom of Kabbalah presents our goal—the revelation of the Creator to the creatures in this world. Through our senses, when the Creator is revealed to us, we join and increasingly attach ourselves to the Creator.
When we conclude replicating the six qualities comes the concluding seventh quality, the Sabbath. The Sabbath concludes itself by itself from above. This is why it is considered “awakening from above.” A special light comes and sets the six qualities in the right order, and there is nothing more we need to do.
This is why the prohibition on working during Sabbath is tantamount to intervening with something that belongs to the upper light. We work for six days setting up the right and left lines, directing the will to receive and the light, the mind and the heart. Finally, we present our work, and then “The Lord will conclude for me” (Psalms, 138:8). This is when we receive the completion of the degree. This is the process we must undergo through the correction of the entire soul, week by week until we conclude the six thousand years.
We must also consider that our soul consists of desires from the evil inclination that cannot be spotted by ordinary scrutiny. They require special examination that only the golden calf can make.
Although the Torah presents it in this way, the golden calf does not represent a fall or a decline, nor does it blame anyone. Any person who experiences this process must go through all the descents and falls, just as it happened with Pharaoh in Egypt, and with the children of Israel in the desert after the events of Mount Sinai.
Even when we move from Mount Sinai to the forty years in the desert we will continue to experience states that seem negative. Each time uncorrected desires surface, we “fall” into them, so we have no choice but to discover them and correct them. It is written, “There is not a righteous man on earth who does good and will not sin” (Ecclesiastes, 7:20), or “A person does not comprehend words of Torah unless he has failed in them.” Thus, first we must fail, scrutinize the failure and correct it, and then we are guaranteed to not repeat it. We are guaranteed to be kept because that desire has already been corrected into having the aim to bestow through which we progress toward love of others.
When we discover that despite the work we have done, we have not revealed the Creator, it is considered that Moses did not return from Mount Sinai. That is, we are drawn back to the intention to receive, the egoistic desire, called “the golden calf.”
Our corrupted desires are called “mixed multitude.” They ask, “Where did Moses go?” They claim we must keep going as we understand it, within us, following our reason and intellect, instead of above reason.
When we return to working within reason we are delighted. It seems to us that this way we understand and feel everything. We may not be ascending to higher degrees, but at least we are in a world that suits our egos. It is a very appealing state. We can see for ourselves how difficult it is to explain to people what nature is compelling us to do now, what is the method of correction and how we can rise to the next level. The Creator, nature, Elokim (which is nature in Gematria) is pressing us and wishes to raise us, and we are seemingly resisting it with a golden calf, celebrating and rejoicing.
When the point in the heart appears, it collides very powerfully with the egoistic desire that has broken out once more. That collision is the shattering of the tablets.
The collision is between the point in the heart—through which we desire to rise and cling to the upper one, to a higher degree, to discover worlds, infinity, and be in a realm of bestowal—and the revelation that we are actually at the point of being a golden calf. We cannot tolerate that contrast, and as a result, all the elements in which we were previously in Kedusha (holiness) shatter.
Those who sinned in the calf were sentenced to death. Subsequently, Moses called, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me!” (Exodus, 32:26). This is the correction of the desires that have appeared now, that are connected to the golden calf, and with which it is impossible to continue.
Following the correction of all the other desires—the three thousand discernments that Moses killed—he ascends to Mount Sinai yet again. Internally, it means that that point within us rises once again and we receive the tablets of the covenant once more. We rediscover Godliness, the Creator, and begin to come down with the second tablets.
Yet, there is a big difference between the first tablets and the second tablets—Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). The first tablets and the golden calf took place on the ninth of Av (11th month in the Hebrew calendar). The occurrence of the first tablets happens from Shavuot to the ninth of Av. Those of the second tablets take place from the ninth of Av to Yom Kippur. Forty days plus forty days are the time frame of correction from which it is possible to continue.
From The Zohar: Half a Shekel
Half a shekel, half a hin, means half a measure. The Vav is the middle between the two Heys because the Vav is the middle line, called “scales,” which weigh the two lights, right and left, being the two Heys, so the left will not be greater than the right. This is why he diminishes the left, so it will not shine from above downward but only from below upward.
Zohar for All, Ki Tissa (When You Take), item 4
Our big will to receive, the ego, is on the left side. The light, which we can draw if we work correctly, according to the instructions of the wisdom of Kabbalah, is on the right. These are the two Yods, as in the letter Aleph, with the diagonal in the middle as the Parsa (partition) . We must join the light from above, the upper Yod, with the will to receive from below, namely the lower Yod (sometimes written as Dalet, which is Behina Dalet, the Malchut in us, instead of the Yod). The diagonal line keeps the balance between them, thus creating the line.
This is why Aleph is the first letter in the alphabet. The portion, Ki Tissa (When You Take), is the beginning of the actual Torah because it engages in the building of the tabernacle and its filling. This is why we must constantly maintain that half, so the right is not more than the left or the other way around. If there is a surplus of desires to receive that we did not correct to the fullest possible extent, then we are not in the desire to bestow. If we take from the will to receive more than we can correct, we are in a state of recognition of evil. It has to be a very precise operation.
Once we restrict all our desires and avoid using the desire in order to receive, but only in order to bestow, we can continue sorting out those small parts of our desire from light to heavy, and join all the corrections to the light.
This is the letter Vav with the punctuation marks, Holam, Shuruk, Hirik, or Kamatz, which is as the Parsa. The light has to be above it because all the corrections are in ascent. In our world—our situation—we will never achieve the revelation of Godliness. There might be various psychological phenomena, but the revelation of Godliness can happen only if we rise above the Parsa.
Following the restriction, once we have the middle line, when we join a group and act in it—as Kabbalists suggest we should—when we try to come out of ourselves and be above reason, above the diagonal Vav, from below upward—we receive the revelation of the spiritual world.
Questions and Answers
Beresheet (Genesis) speaks of the creation of the world. In the desert, things take a long time to unfold, with numerous details along the way, as the portions describe. What do those details symbolize?
The Torah cannot tell us about all that we are going through. It only explains the milestones. It is similar to driving on a road where each mile or several miles are marked by signs.
Why are various garments and a description of the altar mentioned in the desert?
It is the correction of our soul. We have received a system of 613 desires, and each of them consists of all the others, and all are connected. That system is completely broken. It is as though we were given an electronic or mechanical device that is completely broken and we have no clue how to fix it. We would look at it dumbfounded without knowing how to approach it.
This is why we are taught how to do it: “Look at this, fix that, than this, but first that.” There are so many details in our soul, and all of it must become similar to the Creator in its inner structure, in how it works. And although it is the opposite substance from the Creator, “existence from absence,” it must come to resemble the “existence from existence.”
We cannot understand how important our world is, with all its complexities and myriad connections, every atom and every cell in the universe. This is why there are so many details in the correction of the soul. One who walks this path takes part in it and discovers it, and it arouses immense excitement and a sense of harmony and fulfillment.
How do you explain that everything exists and happens simultaneously—the point in the heart is on Mount Sinai, the highest connection, while other desires in me are building a golden calf?
This is the detachment within, where the Moses in us disappears. When Moses disappears we lose contact with the Creator, as this is the only point that connects us with Him. As soon as we disconnect, we find ourselves immersed in our desires, falling into the golden calf. These are the Kelim (vessels) we have taken out of Egypt, Kelim that want the light of Hochma (wisdom), namely pleasure for ourselves alone.
How come the desire obtains contact with the upper force and promptly afterward falls into connection with the golden calf?
There are no delays. There is either Kedusha (holiness) or Klipa (shell/peel). There are no in betweens. We must get used to constantly being in one of the two states; there are no others in our world.
Are Moses’ ascents and descents on Mount Sinai the ups and downs we are talking about?
It is about alternating revelations and concealments. It is similar to the festival of Purim and the story of Esther, who is also revelation in concealment. There cannot be revelation if it is not preceded by concealment. Had Moses not ascended Mount Sinai there would have been no golden calf. But without the golden calf we would not know what to correct. This is how we always progress, on two “legs.”
 Babylonian Talmud, Masechet Kidushin, 30b.
 Midrash Rabah, Eicha, “Introduction,” Paragraph 2.
 Jerusalem Talmud, Seder Nashim, Masechet Nedarim, Chapter 9, p 30b.
 Psalms 49:13
 Zohar for All, Pinehas, item 247.
 Babylonian Talmud, Masechet Gitin, p 43a.