The Best Spots To Watch 2017 Great American Eclipse 

Here are 10 great viewing spots to watch the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse, weather permitting.

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The foremost criterion for selecting a site is the weather. Any location along the path of totality from Oregon to South Carolina can enjoy good weather on eclipse day, but the western half of the United States, especially from the Willamette Valley of Oregon to the Nebraska Sandhills, will enjoy the very best weather odds. You can watch the weather forecasts starting a week before eclipse day to judge whether you can strike for a spot close to home or drive further afield.

Wherever you go, every eclipse viewer should have a plan for mobility. Even in the sunniest locations, you don’t want to be caught under a cloud during the precious two minutes of totality. Pick a location with a good and uncrowded highway system that you can use to relocate the day before, the morning of, or the hour before the eclipse if weather threatens. The total solar eclipse will be such a spectacle that you won’t regret making the effort to find a clear viewing location.

Another piece of advice is to stay flexible in your plan for eclipse day. August is a perfect time of year for camping, so consider bringing a tent or recreational vehicle in case a weather system forces you to relocate several hundred miles. Even if you reserve a hotel room in a prime location, don’t stay fixed to a location if the short-term weather forecast is not favorable.

So where is the best location to see the eclipse? Here are our ten picks for perfect viewing spots to gaze upon nature’s grandest spectacle, weather permitting.

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More about viewing the eclipse in Oregon from .

Madras, Oregon

Duration of totality is 2 minutes, 4 seconds

Totality begins at 10:19 a.m. PDT

While the Oregon coast is at risk of marine clouds, the interior of this state actually enjoys the nation’s best weather prospects. Madras is easily accessible from Portland with a two-hour drive and sits at the junction of four highways for good mobility. A bonus is the prospect of seeing Mt. Jefferson to the west darken as totality envelops this prominent peak 17 seconds before totality in Madras.

More about viewing the eclipse in Oregon from .

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More about viewing the eclipse in Idaho here.

Snake River Valley, Idaho

Duration of totality is 2 minutes, 18 seconds

Totality begins at 11:33 a.m. MDT

The Snake River Valley in eastern Idaho consists of farmland and lava fields. This area is an attractive spot for eclipse chasers because of fairly good weather prospects and many roads for evasive maneuvering in the event of local clouds.

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Casper, Wyoming

Duration of totality is 2 minutes, 26 seconds

Totality begins at 11:42 a.m. MDT

It is for good reason that the Astronomical League is holding their annual Astrocon Conference in Casper just before eclipse day. Not only does Casper have good weather prospects, but also uncrowded highways that extend west, east, north, and south could be used for every weather contingency.

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Sandhills of western Nebraska

Duration of totality is 2 minutes, 30 seconds
Totality beings at 11:49 a.m. MDT

The Sandhills country of Nebraska is a prime location for viewing the eclipse. A careful weather observer has taken notes over 20 years and reports that 70% of late August days are favorable for eclipse viewing. Alliance is a natural choice with accommodations, long duration, three highways for distance traveling, and many farm roads to dodge local clouds. A bonus is that you can enjoy dark summer night skies and a glorious view of the Milky Way.

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St. Joseph, Missouri

Duration of totality is 2 minutes, 39 seconds

Totality begins at 1:06 p.m. CDT

St. Joseph is right on the centerline of the eclipse path and enjoys one of the longest durations of any sizable city in the nation. A large eclipse viewing party is being organized at the Rosecrans Memorial Airport with educational speakers, solar telescopes, and more. If you would like to enjoy the eclipse in the company of astronomers, this is an ideal choice.

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Carbondale, Illinois

Duration of totality is 2 minutes, 41.6 seconds

Totality begins at 1:20 p.m. CDT

Carbondale has a special distinction; it is near the crossing centerlines of both the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse and the coming April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse! Also, the point of longest eclipse for 2017 is just southeast of Carbondale at the geographic location of 37º 34’ 4.3” North latitude, 89º 06’ 10.0” West longitude. If you want to experience the very longest eclipse duration, you can’t go wrong at any spot on the centerline of eclipse near Carbondale. Just don’t forget to drive east or west if clouds threaten to eclipse totality!

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Hopkinsville, Kentucky

Duration of totality is 2 minutes, 41.2 seconds

Totality begins at 1:24 p.m. CDT

The civic boosters of Hopkinsville cite their fair city as the best spot in the nation for the eclipse. While Hopkinsville is a great location, you can travel for hundreds of miles east and west along the eclipse centerline and receive within 1 or 2 seconds of maximum eclipse duration. But if you would like to join a festive crowd, Hopkinsville will certainly be a great location to enjoy the eclipse.

Image via GreatAmerican

Nashville, Tennessee

Duration of totality is 1 minute, 57 seconds

Totality begins at 1:27 p.m. CDT

Nashville deserves special note as the largest city wholly within the path of the total solar eclipse. While its location is offset from the centerline by about 20 miles, it still enjoys a good duration of nearly two minutes. Surely the nation’s music capitol will produce some memorable songs on the occasion of the Great American Eclipse.

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Duration of totality is 1 minute, 17 seconds

Totality begins at 2:35 p.m. EDT

Weather permitting, the Great Smoky Mountains will offer great vistas for the eclipse. Clingman’s Dome will be an intriguing location to view the eclipse due to its expansive views. This site provides the possibility of seeing the Moon’s shadow racing across the landscape, a dramatic sight that will add another dimension to your experience of the eclipse.

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Columbia, South Carolina

Duration of totality is 2 minutes, 30 seconds

Totality begins at 2:43 p.m. EDT

Columbia is another sizable city with a long duration of totality plus a fine network of highways for mobility on eclipse day. For millions of Americans along the Atlantic Seaboard, this will be the most accessible city with accommodations in the path of total solar eclipse.

The Google Maps Reveals Pictures Of Third Temple At Temple Mount In Jerusalem

“The glory of this latter house shall be greater than that of the former saith Hashem of hosts; and in this place will I give peace saith Hashem of hosts.” Haggai 2:9 (The Israel Bible™)
The entrance to the Holy Temple as seen on Google Maps. (Screenshot)

According to Google Maps, the Holy Temple has popped up in an entirely unexpected place: the Temple Mount.

Thanks to the efforts of a young Israeli, touring Solomon’s Temple is now as easy as typing “Temple Mount” into the Google Maps website. Anyone interested should take advantage of the opportunity today, since the virtual tour has only recently returned from being banned by Google and may be removed again in the near future.

Many Jews are reluctant to visit the Temple Mount, concerned about straying into areas that are forbidden by Jewish law. Elyasaf Libi, a resident of Mount Bracha in Samaria, set out to solve that issue by educating Jews on how to navigate the Temple Mount. Towards that end, he created a 3D virtual tour of the Temple and uploaded it to Google Maps. For good measure, he made two versions: the First and the Second Temple.

The Temple (Google Maps)

Libi hired Yehudah Vinograd, a computer programmer who specializes in 3D and computer games, to create the tour. The virtual recreation of the Temple was a relatively easy project for Vinograd, who has produced 3D presentations of archaeological and historical sites, as well as video games and commercial presentations.

“Due to the wealth of information and the depth of study already done, it was actually easier to produce than a theoretical project which has never actually been built,” Vinograd told.

The project is still a work in progress, but Libi wanted to make it available to the public even in its incomplete state.

The inner courtyard (Google Maps)

“It is important that people see it already,” Libi told. “I named the project ‘Har Habayit B’Yadenu’ (The Temple Mount is in Our Hands). This is the phrase the IDF troops used to announce that they had conquered the Temple Mount, but I saw it as having a deeper meaning. The ability to bring the Temple is really entirely in our hands, and we only need to want to make it happen.”

Libi believes his virtual tour is an essential part of that.

“The first step in making something real is envisioning it,” explained Libi. “We are blessed to live in a time when technology can help us envision things in a powerful manner. I wanted to use that power to help bring the Temple.”

Libi chose to use Google Maps, one of the world’s most popular apps, as a platform for his virtual tour of the Temple. A Google Maps feature allows users to upload photos to locations. Libi posted his virtual tours on the app as photos, making them available to the public for free.

Libi’s choice of platforms for his virtual tour was not without shortcomings. In Israel, maps are a politically loaded subject and Google Maps has more than once been the battleground for political controversy concerning the Middle East. The links to the virtual tour were removed for several months and only recently replaced. A programmer for Google explained.

“There was no ill intent, nor was it a political statement from the side of Google,” he explained. “That feature is meant to show actual photos. The 3D tour is virtual, and simply doesn’t fall into the category the feature was intended for.”

Inside the Temple (Google Maps)

Viewers can access the virtual tour of the Temple by opening Google Maps and going to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. By pressing the yellow figure of a person in the lower right of the screen, user photos are activated, their location marked by a small blue circle.

Passing the cursor over the blue circle brings up a thumbnail image of the photo. To find the images that led to the virtual temple tour, a bit of searching is required. Some of the points leading to virtual tours of the Jewish Temple have been removed.

The program places the viewer inside the sanctuary. The cursor is used to navigate, allowing the viewer to look in any direction and even move outside, to view the altar and the courtyard. The app allows the viewer to see the image in 360 degrees, as if he were actually at the location.

The Temple courtyard. (Google Maps)

A different rendition of the Temple, posted by the Temple Institute, is accessed in the same manner. One notable difference is that inside the sanctuary, the Temple Institute’s version has eleven golden menorahs, an equal number of racks for the showbread, in addition to the golden altar for incense.

Anteroom to the Holy of Holies (Google Maps)

The curtains are pulled aside, and the Ark of the Covenant is visible with the two cherubim.

The Holy of Holies on the Temple Institute’s image. (Google Maps)

It is interesting to note that the image does not permit the viewer to enter the Holy of Holies, which was restricted to all save the High Priest on Yom Kippur. The same location allows the viewer to navigate outside the sanctuary. A priest in his distinctive garments stands next to the altar, ready to perform the service.

The priest (Cohen) in the Temple. (Google Maps)

Libi’s project is incomplete, and he has several more Temple-related projects underway. Despite his difficulties with Google’s guidelines, Libi is pleased with the reactions.

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” Libi said. “People really want this to happen, not just virtually, but for real.”

This Week’s Torah Portion | February 21 – February 27, 2016 – 12 Adar I – 18 Adar I, 5776

Ki Tissa (When You Take) Parsha – Weekly 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


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”[1] because “the light in it would reform them.”[2]

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.”[3]

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,[4] 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.”[5]

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.”[6] 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.”

[1] Babylonian Talmud, Masechet Kidushin, 30b.
[2] Midrash Rabah, Eicha, “Introduction,” Paragraph 2.
[3] Jerusalem Talmud, Seder Nashim, Masechet Nedarim, Chapter 9, p 30b.
[4] Psalms 49:13
[5] Zohar for All, Pinehas, item 247.
[6] Babylonian Talmud, Masechet Gitin, p 43a.