The name of this week’s Torah portion, Ki Tisa, translates to “when you lift up.” The question is, how can this parsha lift us up if the majority of the parsha speaks about the most tragic sin that the Jews committed in history, the making of the golden calf? Secondly, how is it possible that only 40 days after God married us and gave us the Torah, we betrayed God and worship a golden calf? This is equivalent to a new bride committing adultery.
To understand this, I would like to share a story. There was once a couple who was married for 25 years. They were having marital issues so they decided to seek help with a marriage counselor. The marriage counselor asked the wife what the issue was and she answered, “my husband never told me he loved me.” The counselor then turns to the husband and asked him why. The husband tells the marriage counselor that when he married his wife, he told her that he loved her under the chuppah and if anything should change he would let her know.
What we can learn from this is that in order for a marriage to last, both parties must invest in it constantly.
In the Torah, up to this point, God did all the investing but the Jews did not invest anything.
The Divine presence settled on earth when the Torah was given because God said, no longer shall heaven and earth be separate but instead God would take the first step, as the Torah says, “The Lord descended upon Mount Sinai.” Because this was only by God’s initiative, the mountain was sanctified beyond human capacity: “Whoever touches the mountain shall surely perish.” But after the Shechinah had departed ““ they were permitted to ascend the mountain, i.e., the mountain remained as it originally was, an unholy place.
In contrast, the Divine presence that settled in the Tabernacle came about because of God’s command to “Make for Me a sanctuary,” namely, through the efforts of the Jewish people. Because the Divine presence was drawn down through the efforts of man, holiness became entrenched in the physical structure of the Tabernacle.
We now understand why the Torah prefaces “Take for Me a donation,” for this idea, that the Divine presence settled in the Mishkan specifically through the efforts of the Jewish people, is expressed in the concept of donation. God instructed us to take from our money and our possessions to donate to God and give to God – to invest in the marriage. With this, it now becomes an everlasting edifice.
The lesson we learn is anything worthwhile requires effort.
A blessing requires some object upon which to take hold, like rain that falls upon a plowed and sown field, or like the early and late rains that fall upon the produce of the field or vineyard. But if a field is left fallow, neither plowed nor sown, the early and late rains will not be of any benefit.
This is why everything in Judaism needs effort, from education to parenting, from friendship to spiritual growth and more.
When you invest, it becomes yours and becomes permanent.
May God bless us that we should have the ability to invest and make an effort. Through our effort, we can transform this world from darkness to light and pure holiness with the revelation of Moshiach, now.