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Home » Ki Tisa

KI Tisa: Transformation of a Coin

Submitted by on March 5, 2006 – 3:43 amNo Comment | 2,412 views

Coins Of Fire

In this week’s Parsha we read that by contributing half-silver coins to the tabernacle’s building fund our ancestors earned atonement for their souls. The Midrash relates that Moshe wondered how atonement could result from simple silver coinage? In response G-d showed Moshe a coin made of fire. How did this vision answer Moshe’s question?

Reaching Beyond Self

Financial prosperity often leads to vulgar and even immoral temptation. Moshe wondered how money can become a vehicle for divine atonement? In response G-d showed Moshe a coin made of fire. When the coin is contributed to a cause higher and greater than itself it is viewed in heaven as a coin of fire i.e. it is transformed into pure holiness and spirituality.

This analogy can be taken to a deeper level. Silver is a basic metal that is found deep in the ground. It is cold, impersonal and pulled downward by gravity. It symbolizes a person content to be either at rest or in a state of perpetual downward motion. Uncaring and unresponsive, such people cannot be moved to reach beyond themselves. Fire, on the other hand, defies gravity as it reaches ever higher. It symbolizes those in continual upward motion, always striving to improve, always seeking to sublimate themselves in the infinite reaches of the beyond.

In short, metal represents the material body, fire represents the spiritual soul. When a Jew offers a silver coin to charity the material, unresponsive coin is transformed into a spiritual smoldering soul. This is how a silver coin becomes a vehicle for atonement.

Three Way Transformation

When we give of our earnings to the poor, when we break out of our cycle of selfishness, we transform the giver and the coins we give. We turn from being mundane, self-centered beings and reach, if for a moment, the pinnacle of selflessness and G-dly achievement. We go from being self-centered to G-d-centered, body-centered to soul-centered.

The simple silver coinage is thus transformed into a smoldering, breathing flame of G-dly passion thereby granting the contributor absolute and unconditional atonement.