Who Is for God?February 12, 2014 - 5:00 am
So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, “Whoever is for the LORD, come to me.” And all the Levites rallied to him.—Exodus 32:26
The Torah portion for this week is Ki Tisa, which means “when you raise up,” from Exodus 30:11—34:35, and the Haftorah is from 1 Kings 18:20–39.
In this week’s Torah portion, we come across one of the more dramatic stories of the Bible. Moses went up on Mount Sinai for forty days; however due to a slight miscalculation by the Israelites, they mistakenly thought that their leader had died when he didn’t return according to their calculation.
So, without Moses to lead them, they turned toward idolatry and constructed an idol, a golden calf, to worship. Meanwhile, Moses was getting ready to return when God told him that the people had sinned. Moses came down the mountain with the two tablets containing the Ten Commandments in hand and saw the Israelites dancing around the golden idol. In anger, he smashed the tablets in front of all Israel.
What happened next has reverberated throughout the ages. Moses issued a call – one that was echoed by the Maccabees of the Hanukkah story thousands of years later as they staged a revolt against the Greeks. Moses yelled: “Mi la’Hashem eilay!” “Whoever is for the LORD, come to me.” The entire tribe of Levi heeded his call. They joined Moses in putting the idolaters to death and restoring peace to the nation. The Sages teach that because of their actions, the tribe of Levi was given the priesthood. They would serve in the Temple when it stood in Jerusalem and also in the messianic times to come.
Thousands of years later, in the early 1900s, one renowned rabbi met with another. In the course of their conversation, the rabbi asked his colleague, “Tell me, are you a Levite?” The second rabbi answered, “No, I’m not.” The first Rabbi remarked, “What pity. When the messiah comes I will be able to serve in the Temple, but you will not be able to serve because when Moses called ‘whoever is for God, come to me,’ my grandfather went running and yours didn’t. Because of this, his descendants will miss out forever!”
The rabbi continued by saying that Moses’ call is echoed in every generation. Who will stand for God? Who will take a stand against a hostile crowd? Who will do what is right when it isn’t popular? The call comes in many ways.
The rabbi concluded: “When you hear that call, don’t walk – run! Because if you don’t, the consequences are forever!”
Abraham Lincoln once said, “My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.” Let us seek to be on God’s side in whatever situation we find ourselves – and to be ready to answer the call when it comes.