Parshat Ki Tisa: Being partners of God

Our sages teach us that we as individuals are a half, for the other half that makes us complete or one is our Creator. This explains that either rich or poor, we were commanded to give half shekel for the construction of the Tabernacle. Also thus we are counted by God to be part of the connection He wants with us.

“This they shall give, every one that passed among them that are counted, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary — the shekel is twenty gerahs — half a shekel for an offering to the Lord.” (Exodus 30:13)

This connection is mentioned in the verse as “an offering”, for what all we are, have and do are given by God, hence we offer (lit. elevate) our individual and collective wholesomeness to Him. We assimilate the content of the verse with every part mentioned, beginning with each one of us as a half; next, giving this half self to build the Tabernacle as the connecting means to be oneself with God, by being an offering to Him.

“The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less, than the half shekel, when they give the offering of the Lord to make atonement for your souls.” (30:15)

Thus we are also able to separate ourselves (“to make atonement”) from anything opposite to God’s ways and attributes. This repair, correction or rectification can only occur when we return to be and manifest goodness as our common bond with Him. As we mentioned in reference to the preceding portions of the Torah, the Tabernacle is built with items that represent the best traits and qualities from our intellect and discernment, thoughts, emotions, feelings and actions, as we elevate them as a bonding offering with God’s goodness.

“And He said: ‘I will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion’.” (33:19)

In this bonding we want to be permanent, goodness is the cause, the means and the end. We understand the second part of this verse not as a selective or conditional statement but as the effect of living in the grace and compassion of goodness. In goodness we show grace and compassion we share as some of God’s ways and attributes (Exodus 34:6-7) as expressions of His goodness. If these are the ways with which He relates to His creation, He commands us to also emulate them not only to fulfill His will, but to bond permanently with Him.

In order for this to happen we have to desire it more than the idols we make out of ego’s fantasies and illusions. Thus we realize the inherent unselfishness of goodness, which enables us to detach our consciousness from anything different from the ways and attributes of goodness. This requires us to love goodness and desire goodness, as we desire God’s love to be one with our love.

“And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and brought the Lord’s offering, for the work of the tent of meeting, and for all the service thereof, and for the holy garments.” (35:21)

We indeed must want to love the most we can, and stir our love to soar up as the highest elevated offering to God’s love, and build together with Him the eternal connection the Tabernacle means as the meeting time and space in our individual and collective consciousness.

This bonding with all possible and potential dimensions of goodness is “the work” and “the service”, for in this awareness we realize the sacred qualities (“the holy garments”) of our Jewish identity, whose purpose is to enlighten the world with goodness as the place where God wants to dwell in our midst.

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Zefat.
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