As long as we are bound to God by taking what we are and have to Him, nothing negative can happen to us amid the illusions of the material world. In this context we understand the beginning of this portion.
“When you count (lit. raise ki tisa) the head [the total sum] of the children of Israel according to their numbers, let each one give to the Lord an atonement for his soul when they are counted; then there will be no plague among them when they are counted.” (Exodus 30:12)
We must be aware that since the moment God chose us as His partners for His Divine Plan, our bond with Him is permanent. This partnership, as we said above, is based on Love because God's Love makes it possible.
In this sense our duty is to know God in all His ways revealed by Him to us in the Torah. Once we adopt His ways and attributes, not just as our guidelines and purpose but also as our Jewish identity, we fulfill our partnership with Him.
Though the Sanctuary chronologically came after the transgression of the Golden Calf, the Torah mentions it earlier because before any transgression we may incur there is already a place in our consciousness where we are permanently connected to God. We belong to a house that He has built beforehand, and this house is His Love for us.
The principle we have been referring to is about making the choice to live, experience and enjoy our connection with God as a matter of fact. It is a fact because He is telling us so. Therefore it is not a matter of faith or even trust, because it is the truth.
The Torah and our history prove that fact, and we know it is true because we have lived it and experienced it. How can we deny God's Love? How can we deny Love as the best we are and have? Only by creating an illusion of denial, by choosing to live in ego's false beliefs and feelings of lack.
When we adopt the false belief that God is not enough, that His Creation is not enough, and that nothing is enough, we fall by transgressing the matter of fact that God is enough, and that we are also enough because we come from Him. Thus we understand the following verse.
“The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than the half shekel, when they give the offering of the Lord to make atonement for your souls.” (Exodus 30:15)
We have to elevate our consciousness to the awareness that in our bond with God we are and have all there is to live and manifest.
“And the Lord passed by before him [Moses], and proclaimed: 'The Lord, the Lord, benevolent God, compassionate and gracious, patient, and abundant in loving kindness and truth; preserving loving kindness to the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and rebellion and sin; and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation'.” (34:6-7)
These feelings and beliefs of lack are the “nations” that invite us to covet, lust, envy and fall trapped in their indolence, indifference and negativity.
“Beware lest you form a covenant with the inhabitant[s] of the land into which you are coming, lest it become a snare in your midst. But you shall demolish their altars, shatter their monuments, and cut down their sacred trees. For you shall not prostrate yourself before another god, because the Lord, whose Name is 'the Exclusive One', is an exclusive jealous God.” (34:12-14)
Likewise, Love's ways exclude anything different or oppose to its means and attributes.
“You shall not make molten gods for yourself.” (34:17)
We are destined to know our Creator, from whom all come to exist. We are bound to know our Essence and true identity. We can't settle for less and live in the illusions and fantasies of a false reality built out of ego's agenda. We must have an existential approach to life and the material world, and ask the transcendental questions about who we are, from what we came from, and where are we going to.