Learning To Listen – Ki Tissa
“When the people saw that Moses was late in coming down from the mountain…”—Exodus 32:1.
This week’s portion describes one of the most misunderstood events in the Bible – the sin of the Golden Calf. Taken at face value, it is difficult to comprehend how the same people who had witnessed the miracles of the Exodus and the Revelation at Sinai could be led to worship a molten image. However, a deeper understanding of the episode reveals that the people did not intend to replace God with the Golden Calf. What they were looking for was a substitute for Moses. They were an imperfect people who had yet learned to listen to the Sunlight of the Spirit, or to rely on each other.
Moses, a human being of flesh and blood, represented the people’s tangible connection to a Higher Power. Although it was God who redeemed the people from Egypt and gave them the Commandments at Sinai, it was Moses who served as the visible medium through which these wonders were brought about. Without Moses to facilitate their relationship with The Power of the Universe, the people were in a quandary and sought to replace him.
Their mistake was that when they thought that they had lost their appointed intermediary, they took it upon themselves to choose their own way of connecting, contrary to what they had heard on their journey. An idol represented that substitute they sought.
If it is true that the essence of finding spirituality is looking within us; it also has behooved those on that journey to choose a teacher. The connection we seek is not a solo search; it is one of community and learning to listen.
One of the cornerstones of spiritual renewal is our willingness to be receptive to the message when we hear it. If we seek knowledge of God’s will for us is by listening, then we understand imperfection and accept that the journey will not be perfect. Just as the Israelites stumbled by choosing to replace Moses with a Golden Calf, we too may not always be perfect.
Consistent with the acceptance that we do not always know what is best for us and that we need to always remain open, receptive and teachable; is the relevance that when we get out of our own heads long enough to truly listen to someone else, we may be able to hear the voice of God.