A golden calf, and a missing leader.
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. 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. “If the sin of the Golden Calf was one of mass idol worship… the entire affair is incomprehensible”.
It seems that through the golden calf the people didn’t deny Hashem, they made the calf as a replacement for Moses. 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. Moses had spoken with G_d, he had led them through the sea, to Sinai, and directed them in battle.
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 creates 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, and there never should be.