Parshat Ki Tisa: Between ego’s fantasies and love’s truth

When you count the head [the total sum] of the children of Israel according to their numbers, let each one give to the Lord an atonement for his soul when they are counted; then there will be no plague among them when they are counted.” (Exodus 30:12)

Our sages teach that this new census is related to events that occurred in this portion of the Torah regarding the final instructions of the assembly of the Sanctuary, the sin of the golden calf, and the Divine attributes of compassion.

This particular census involves the individual contribution of half shekel of silver by every adult for the construction of the Sanctuary. This has two objectives: to be aware that we as individuals are incomplete (halves) because our wholeness is achieved in our unity with the Creator. Hence we have to offer our individual being (the half we are) for the foundation of what symbolizes our unity with God: the Sanctuary as the highest awareness of 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)

It is pointed out that we offer the wholeness of our being that is no more and no less of who we are. This includes the traits and qualities that make us individually unique. This is the wholeness we elevate to the Creator in order to be atoned (transformed) by His love.

This process takes place when we embrace God’s ways and attributes in the material world. After the final instructions for the construction of the Sanctuary and its anointing, there is a repeated reminder.

(…) ‘You shall keep My Shabbats! Because it is a sign between Me and you for your generations, to know that I, the Lord, make you holy. Thus shall the children of Israel observe the Sabbath, to make the Sabbath throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant’.” (31:13-17)

This reminder not only warns us about the preeminence of the Shabbat as the absence of the labors related to the building of the Sanctuary, but to teach us that in it we are one with the Creator and this makes us holy.

After this preamble the narrative continues with the rebellion of the basic emotions, passions and instincts, led by ego against the highest awareness of the Creator in our consciousness (represented by Moses and Aaron). All the miracles performed for the liberation from the bondage to ego’s illusions were forgotten and replaced by those illusions.


They have quickly turned away from the path that I have commanded them; they have made themselves a molten calf! And they have prostrated themselves before it, slaughtered sacrifices to it, and said: ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who have brought you up from the land of Egypt’.” (32:8)

The power of ego granted by the Creator is meant to serve Him, but this depends on our free will: either to follow our materialistic desires or love’s ways and attributes. In this situation our higher awareness of His presence is responsible to lead every aspect of consciousness in His direction.

Moses said to Aaron: ‘What did this people do to you that you brought a grave sin upon them?’ Aaron replied: ‘Let not my lord’s anger grow hot! You know the people, that they are disposed toward evil’.” (32:21-22)


Although the battle between true and false, right and wrong, is waged every moment, love always prevails when we choose God’s ways and attributes.

In the permanent awareness of love we redeem ourselves from the ordeals imposed by ego’s materialistic agenda. Once we integrate all levels of consciousness into God’s love and follow His ways, redemption follows. This unity is achieved in the awareness of His attributes.

And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed: ‘The Lord, the Lord, benevolent God, compassionate and gracious, patient, and abundant in loving kindness and truth; preserving loving kindness to the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and rebellion and sin; and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation’.” (34:6-7)

These thirteen attributes of Divine compassion are inherent to the love of the Creator for His creation. Once more we are reminded that only in the unity with God’s love our consciousness is cleared from its potentially negative expressions represented by the Canaanite nations.

Keep carefully what I am commanding you today: Lo! I will drive out from before you the Amorites and the Canaanites, the Hittites and the Perizites, the Hivites and the Jebusites. Beware lest you form a covenant with the inhabitant[s] of the land into which you are coming, lest it become a snare in your midst. But you shall demolish their altars, shatter their monuments, and cut down their sacred trees. For you shall not prostrate yourself before another god, because the Lord, whose Name is “the Exclusive One”, is an exclusive jealous God.” (34:11-14)

There must not be place for ego’s fantasies and illusions.

You shall not make molten gods for yourself.” (34:17)


With this we reaffirm that love does not cohabit with anything different from its ways and attributes. The following verses (18-26) contain commandments previously mentioned as essential in the covenant of Israel and the Creator.

The Lord said to Moses: ‘Inscribe these words for yourself, for according to these words I have formed a Covenant with you and with Israel’.” (34:27)

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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