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PARASHAT KI TISA כִּי תִשָּׂא - When you take

Saturday 19th February 2022 18th Adar 1 5782

PARASHAT KI TISA כִּי תִשָּׂא - When you take

Torah: Exodus 30:11-34:35; Haftarah: 1 Kings 18:1-39; Gospel: Mark 9:1-10

The Golden Calf (watercolor, circa 1896–1902 by James Tissot. Image: Public domain from Wikimedia)

The Tabernacle vs. Golden Calf

The Torah tells the story of the golden calf in juxtaposition to the instructions for the building of the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle represents God's way of doing spirituality. The golden calf represents man's way of doing spirituality. God and Israel were both striving for the same end: They were each attempting to create a medium whereby Israel could worship God and celebrate their relationship with Him. Their methods of accomplishing that end were very different, though.

The golden calf was a poor substitute for the glory of the Tabernacle. The Torah tells about the work of making the golden calf to contrast it against the work of the Tabernacle.

When Aaron made the calf, he did not yet know that God had chosen to make him the high priest over Israel. When the people asked him to make an idol for them, he took the role of priesthood himself. If he had waited for Moses to return, he would have learned that God had chosen to install him as a priest in the Tabernacle.

The people did not know that God had ordered them to raise a contribution of gold and precious materials for the building of the Tabernacle. If they had waited, Moses would have told them. Instead, Aaron told them to donate the gold of their jewelry for the idol.

The people were to fashion the furnishings of the Tabernacle of gold. Instead, Aaron fashioned the idol "with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf" (Exodus 32:4). The people were to build a bronze altar for burnt offerings and a golden altar for incense. Instead, we read that "he built an altar" (Exodus 32:5) for the idol. The people were to offer burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar in the Tabernacle. Instead, we read that the people "offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings" (Exodus 32:6) to the idol. The Tabernacle was to be a resting place of God's divine, invisible presence. Instead, the people made a visible, idolatrous representation of God. All the things that Israel desired, God had already planned to give them.

A girl from a poor farmer's family was ready to be married. Her father promised to find a match for her. He set out for a distant city to find a suitable fellow. In his absence, she grew impatient. She was lonely, and she felt that she needed someone to provide for her. Rather than wait for her father to return, she married the crass and ignorant son of a local farmer. The day after the wedding, her father returned with the match he had found: A wealthy, handsome, and well-educated young noble. Imagine the girl's shame and disappointment.

Patience really is a virtue. It is always better to wait on God.

Psalm 27:14 - "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."

2 Peter 3:9 - "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."


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