The Tent of Meeting, the Golden Calf, and the Evolution of Souls

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The Tent of Meeting, the Golden Calf, and the Evolution of Souls

#1 Postby Marion » Sat Sep 07, 2019 9:17 pm

Shabbat Shalom!

This week, I have been contemplating last week’s Shabbat discourse on the Evolution of souls.

Joined with this, there has been a swirl with a passage in the Zohar (2:193b-2:194a) about the mystery of the sin of the golden calf in Exodus 32.

When Moses goes up the mountain to speak to God and receive the Ten Commandments, the Children of Israel along with the mixed multitude create a golden calf and laud it as a god. There is much discussion in the Zohar about how and why they turned away from God and sinned. The Zohar describes a “belt of letters of the Holy Name” they were given previously and was removed from them when they decided to enact this sin.

The story of Adam and Eve is also brought up as a parallel story. Of Adam, it is said: “…until he parted from the Tree of Life, knowing evil, abandoning good.” We have been taught that Adam and Eve were in an unconscious unity in the Garden of Eden. They were one with God not in awareness, but ignorance. Therefore, they needed to be kicked out of the Garden of Eden in order to evolve and eventually be able to abide in a conscious unity with the Holy One.

I am wondering if the same can be said of the Children of Israel and the belt of the letters of the Holy Name that they are girded with? Are they blessed with this in the midst of their unconsciousness? I am reminded here of experiences of Divine Grace, where even in the midst of deep unconsciousness and sin, once in awhile, the Holy One grants us small glimpses into union, and sometimes even brief experiences. In the discourse we were told that these glimpses allow us an opportunity to see what is possible in the One.

This brought up another question about the evolution of souls. Before the sin of the golden calf, did the Children of Israel ever even know God or were they just in ignorance? Therefore, when they turned away from God and sinned, did they really sin? Is it a sin if a person is ignorant? This is before Moses came down from the mountain and before the giving of the law.

In this regard, I’ve been contemplating a lot about karma. Say there is a very young soul here and they have not yet had the experience of murder and the pain and suffering it causes. Say they murder someone out of anger one day and experience the aftermath of that decision and also how that decision feels in the afterlife. Now their soul has a very visceral experience of the karma of murder. Before this time, how much did they sin? Is it as bad as a person who knows exactly what they are doing and the consequences for them and the other person? I can’t imagine that there would be no karma in an ignorant soul who commits a murder, and is it as bad?

There is something else in the Zohar that gets at this mystery. In the beginning of this section, there is a mention of “120 hundredweights”. In the notes, Daniel Matt says that 120 indicates מסכה — molten [calf] because if you add the numbers of each letter together, it enumerates 120; the heh is not added to the total number because it is silent. Later on, they speak about the Tent of Meeting that Moses erected. Tent of meeting is spelled: מועד, which also enumerates 120! מועד can be translated as both “festival” and “slated time”, with festival being the positive interpretation and slated time, the negative interpretation.

I am wondering if these two words having the same enumeration answers something of the question of sins committed in ignorance versus awareness. The molten calf was the sin and the tent of meeting was one of Moses’ responses to the sin. This tent can either be a blessing—festival, or a curse—slated time. Is this saying that whether a sin will be remember or not depends on whether that soul breaks out of the ignorance and realizes Oneness with God? When we sin, that is, turn away from God, turn away from the Good, that sin can either be used by God for the good or it can lead us further and further into darkness. The difference seems to be whether or not one has faith. If there is faith and a continual striving towards greater and greater knowledge, understanding, and wisdom of the Holy One, then whatever the sin was may be used for sake of the Divine Kingdom. But, if one falls into bitterness and God forbid, hatred of self and others, then there is little God can do until the energy of that sin is expended.

It is such an incredible mystery what souls are doing here and what God is doing through us!

Blessings and Shalom,

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