In our pathways through life, we often encounter damage of various kinds. Sometimes the damage is the effect of our own actions, sometimes of those of other people. Dealing with the effect of damage, trying to repair it, occupies a large part of our daily lives.

This week's Torah Reading (Ki Tisa, Exodus 30:11-34:35.) describes the catastrophe of the Golden Calf: an extreme and archetypal form of damage. Yet it also provides advice about repair.

The Jewish people, led by Moses, reached Mount Sinai. The Divine revelation there was a uniquely high point in human experience, opening the doors of perception: they realized that all is One, with a sense of wholeness and purity.

As often happens, this brief ecstatic moment of inspiration was followed by a lull, a waiting period, a sense of absence. Moses, their teacher and guide, had disappeared up the mountain. The Jewish people felt that they had been left alone.

So, then came the making of the Golden Calf, and the orgy which followed. The Sages tell us that the women refused to take part. The Golden Calf signified a violent male fall into depravity, damage for their own time and also for generations to come.

Can the damage be repaired? Yes, that is the emphatic promise of Jewish teaching.

There is a hint about repair, right at the beginning of the Parshah. Speaking of counting the Jewish people the Torah says, "lift up their heads".

In the Torah, everything is significant. To "lift up your head" means climbing to a higher level, to a realm beyond your head, beyond Reason. This suggests a step towards the point at which the Soul joins with G‑d, with Faith, inspiration and utter dedication. Here is a foretaste of the intense inner turn of "Repentance", Teshuvah, which the Jewish people reached after the fall of the Golden Calf. This is one form of repair.

Another meaning of lifting one's head is not to go beyond Reason but rather to transform it. This means, reaching a different, more wholesome way of thinking and of reasoning. Gaining an openness and understanding which will in a natural and simple way exclude the Golden Calf. The key to this is Torah study, seeking not just the knowledge but also the inwardness, the paradigm shift, the sense of meaning which Torah study can achieve.

Through this lifting of one's head, the damage of the Golden Calf is repaired: if possible, before it happens, right at the beginning of the Parshah... But if not then, at any time. Repair is always possible!1