Rabbi Steven Pik-Nathan for Jewish Reconstructionist Communities
Two Sides of the Golden Calf
This week's parashah, Ki Tisa, includes the narrative of the Golden Calf. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, according to rabbinic tradition the incident of the calf is contiguous with the giving of the Ten Commandments and precedes the giving of the instructions for the building of the Mishkan/Tabernacle. Sinai and the Golden Calf are inextricably linked to one another. Sinai represents the creation of a relationship between the people of Israel and God. The Golden Calf represents, among other things, their refusal to totally let go of their past and also their inability to maintain their commitment to one concept, symbol or ideal if their patience is tested. In short, Sinai implies trust and the Golden Calf implies its rejection.
Aviva Zornberg discusses the fact that the two sides of the coin that is the Golden Calf may seem to be contradictory, yet are in reality complimentary, or perhaps even symbiotic.
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