Ki Tissa – Making a Knot to Repair the Broken String

‘Ki Tissa’, the name of this week’s Parsha, translates as ‘elevating’, or ‘raising up’ (although idiomatically it means a census of the nation). Notwithstanding, the most dramatic event that the Parsha narrates is the tragic downfall of the Jewish people through the Golden Calf – the epitome of idolatry – and which takes place inexplicably straight after receiving the Torah at Mt. Sinai. This should be better described as a ‘descent’, not as the name of the Parsha implies, an ascent’. The Golden Calf was a moment of complete break in relationship between the bride-to-be – the Jewish people, and the future groom – G-d. Hence Moses breaks the tablets containing the Torah’s essence, thereby ‘tearing up’ the betrothal document, and thus preventing a much worse case of betrayal, viz. after marriage. But a crisis of relationship nevertheless exists. And the ‘shadchan’, interlocutor, Moses, pleads with G-d to forgive the aberrational behavior of the Jewish people. And G-d, so to speak, gives in. When two lovers fight and then make up, the making up is the sweetest moment. It becomes a strong point of the future relationship, with a resultant profounder commitment to the relationship. As the Hassidic wisdom teaching informs: when a string breaks and one ties the two ends together, the knot forms the strongest point of the string. We call this an act of Teshuva – return and restoration of the original loving relationship. The whole point of the episode of Golden Calf, bad as it was, provided an opportunity to strengthen the relationship between the Jewish people and G-d through Teshuva, beyond even that what existed prior to the ‘betrayal’. And indeed the second set of tablets allowed the Torah to be greatly expanded through the passage of time, far beyond the original set. Do you have a broken relationship? Then tie the knot to repair the string and enjoy an even more profound closeness than was the case before its breach.