Parashat Ki Tissa

Decisions with many consequences

If we take a look at the Ki Tissa portion in every Chumash, we will notice quite quickly that there is a very un-proportional division of the Aliyot. The first two Aliyot cover approx. 60% of the reading, and the other five Aliyot are relatively short. The impression left after the reading is that the Babylonian Sages who divided the Torah in Aliyot put a lot of thought into the division of this particular portion and within this division is a very deep message.

Why?

The idea is that they wanted only the Levites to read the second Aliyah which talks about the sin of the Golden Calf, simply because they are most deserving of this. Thousands of years ago, when Moshe came down from the mountain and saw the Golden Calf, he yelled “Whoever is for G-d, join me!” (Exodus 32, 26). That day, the great great grandfather of the Levite who stands up to read this Aliyah heard him and stood by him. My great great grandfather didn’t hear Moshe and continued dancing around the Golden Calf.

The son’s of the Levi tribe made a principal decision thousands of years ago to stand by Moshe as a sign of their trust in G-D. And today, hundreds of generations later the consequences of that decision still live on when we read this portion. Only a Levite will read from the Torah about the Golden Calf.

In life there are no random decisions. Every decision, every initiative, each choice may be of great consequence even in generations to come. And I do not speak only of Kohanim (Priests) and Levites. I speak of us.

I remember one of the saddest days of my life. I was 12 years old when my parents decided that the high school I chose to attend along with all of my friends was “not for me”.

From the age of 8 I wanted to be an architect and that school had an architectural department. My father, for reasons that still remain unknown, decided that my future lay in a Jewish School in the center of Buenos Aires where 90% of the students were girls.

I cried all night. I had no friends there, my friends made fun of me saying I was going to a girl’s school. But most importantly I cried because I wanted to be an architect, not to study Judaism!

Only today, do I understand how justified my parents' decision was and just how many implications it had on my life. If not for this decision today I would probably be just another (unemployed) architect driving a cab through the streets of Buenos Aires like my “to be colleagues”. If not for my parents' decision on next Shabbat at 5 in the morning I would be finishing the night shift in my cab. But as you know things did not work out that way. Instead, due to my parents' choice of that Jewish School for me, on Shabbat I will stand in my synagogue in Israel along with my family and congregation and I will speak of the Torah portion Ki Tissa..

Simply because every decision has consequences.

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