Parshah Ki Tisa

Ki Tisa
In this weeks portion we hear the story of the golden calf, one that is familiar to so many of us, and also one that is so very, very heavy with hidden meaning it would take a very long time to unpack it all.
Moses climbed the mountain to meet with Hashem and to receive the Law. Moshe said he would be there for forty days and return in the morning. Through a counting error, the Israelites expected Moses back sooner than he was planning on returning. The Israelites got nervous and made the golden calf.
Here’s where I learned something new.
The sin of the calf wasn’t one of idolatry per se. Ramban tells us that there is actually a whole different interpretation. he says, “If the sin of the Golden Calf was one of mass idol worship… the entire affair is incomprehensible”.
We are required in the Torah to go to any lengths, even to give up our lives, rather than to worship idols. Can we really imagine that the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest, Aaron, would fail this first, big test? He went on to serve in the Tabernacle for forty years! If idolatry is worth the death penalty, he should have been put to death! This seems to indicate that there is more going on here.
The people didn’t deny Hashem, they made the calf as a replacement for Moses. It says in the Torah explicitly that they needed a replacement for Moses, not G-d.They thought because they had had Moses to speak to G-d, now that they had lost him they needed someone or something new to be a substitute for their vanished leader. According to their understanding, G-d assigns power to a subordinate, like Moses. Moses had spoken with G-d, he had led them through the sea, to Sinai, and directed them in battle, and because he was missing, the people begged for something to take his place.
It makes me think of different ways that we put people or things in between G-d and us.  Sometimes we value others’ opinions and thoughts more than our own, and we can get caught up in the belief that they can better communicate with G-d, or that we need someone to mediate for us.
But that’s not really true.
We are Hashem’s people, His children. The giving and receiving of the Torah initiates a two way relationship, one that is at once communal and intimate.
I guess what I’m saying is, don’t be afraid to take responsibility for yourself before G-d, to own this relationship that was created. There’s no one standing between us and G-d anymore, and there never should be. 

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