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    How crazy can you be? – Ki Tissa

    The story in the sidra is sad and shocking.

    Moses and the Israelites have left Egypt at God’s word. They have made a stop at Sinai where Moses has ascended the mountain and HaShem has proclaimed the Ten Commandments.

    But Moses has not come back and the people have lost patience. They go to the second-in-command, Aaron, and ask him to make a god for them.

    The result is the Golden Calf, which the people acclaim with the words, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt!” (Ex. 32:4).

    How crazy can you be? An idol of gold, just completed, is credited with bringing Israel out of Egypt? History can be re-written so radically, so stupidly, so dangerously?

    You wouldn’t think it could happen, but it did, and it repeats itself – not least in our own time.

    One of the strangest things is why they ask Aaron to make them a new god. Why not expect Aaron to take over as leader whilst keeping the real God? If Aaron is good enough to fashion a god, surely he is good enough to be the leader!

    But they don’t need a human being; they need a symbol. They need a flag on a pole. The real God isn’t good enough because He makes inconvenient laws and expects them not to kill, steal, commit adultery.

    A flag on a pole – any flag, any pole – is acceptable. A tragedy!

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