I found myself thinking very much contemplating the sitra achre, the negative influences and power in the world this week. This week the Jewish people sin with a Golden Calf at the base of Mr. Sinai, just when they are supposed to reach the highest heights!  This is the week when Jews show their doubt in Hashem, and Moshe. The great power of the Red Sea is forgotten, and they latch on to the strong pull of doubt, bad vibes.  Whenever there is a power of kedusha, holiness in the world, the negative influences in the world seem to bring it down.  Don’t  let the nay sayers win, we were put here for a holy mission, and each Jew has a role to play. Good Shabbos.

From Torah.org

Note: The Shabbos Torah Reading is divided into 7 sections. Each section is called an Aliya [literally: Go up] since for each Aliya, one person “goes up” to make a bracha [blessing] on the Torah Reading.


1st Aliya: This first Aliya concludes the details of the Mishkan’s construction. The Bnai Yisroel are commanded to give the half Shekel toward a national census and the purchasing of the public offerings. The copper washstand, the Kiyor, is described along with the ingredients and laws of the anointing oil and the Ketores – the incense. Betzallel, the son of Chur and grandson of Miriam is identified as the chief artisan and architect of the Mishkan. (Note: he was only 13 yr. old!) The Mitzvah of Shabbos is commanded. Its juxtaposition to the details of the Mishkan provides the Gemara with the source for determining the 39 categories of Melacha prohibited on Shabbos. 

2nd Aliya: The story of the Golden Calf is told. Moshe ascended Sinai on the morning of Sivan 7, and remained 40 days and nights. The 7th didn’t start with a night, so it wasn’t included in the total of 40. The Jews mistakenly assumed that it was to be included and expected Moshe back on the morning of Tamuz 16. Instead, he returned the morning of Tamuz 17. By midday of the 16th, the Jews were already desperate. Chur attempts to reason with them and is killed. They approach Aharon who attempts to redirect their terror which results in the Golden Calf. Moshe appears the next morning, breaks the Luchos, marshals the tribe of Levi, and 3000 people are killed. Moshe demands Hashem’s forgiveness for the people, but moves the Ohel Moed out from the midst of the camp. Yehoshua is proclaimed the main student of Moshe.

3rd & 4th Aliyot: Moshe requests to understand Hashem’s system of justice. He is granted a greater understanding of Hashem than any other person in history, but is denied the ability to comprehend divine justice.

5th Aliya: Moshe is instructed to cut two new Luchos and ascend Sinai. Moshe is taught the secret formula for Teshuva (the Thirteen Names of G-d as He Manifests His Mercy) (34:6) and G-d forgives the Bnai Yisroel.

6th Aliya: Hashem establishes a new covenant with the people. He forewarns them against the influences of assimilation and intermarriage and forbids them to make any treaties with the inhabitants of Canaan. The holidays of Pesach, Shevout, and Succos are reviewed, as well as Shabbos and the basic law of Kashrus.

7th Aliya: Moshe remains on Sinai another 40 days and nights and returns on Yom Kippur carrying the second Luchos. The people see that the very being of Moshe had been transformed and that his face radiated with a inner light. Moshe fashions for himself a veil that he would wear at all times, except when receiving a prophecy and when transmitting the word of G-d to the people.

About the author

Rabbi Yonah

20 Comments

  • After the Golden Calf, the broken tablets, the new tablets are hewn, and Moshe wants to understand the Glory of Hashem. Even Moshe Rabbeinu, or holiest teacher, was only able to “see” Hashem from behind. In other words, the results of history, things as they happen, but the future, the “front” of Hashem, that was not made available to Moshe, or any of us.

  • Um. Rabbi Yonah I think the unspoken thing here is that mobius and ck think that your reference to naysayers is the posts by michael and mobius which you obviously disagree with. I don’t really know what your comment is in reference to.

  • i mean, sure dave, it -is- coincidental so long as you realize matis is the golden calf. i should know – i helped carve it.

  • Hmm. Yes it does seem that anything can be read into that.

    The Golden Calves abound: belief that redemption will come at the hands of other forces, shock-programming, halachic acrobatics, might=safety…

    I was not referring to Reb Matis as the golden calf, Mobius, and the calf from the parsha actually was not carved. It rose from the fire when the golden piece with the words “alei shor” were thrown in.

  • well, maybe we should be careful not to worship anything but God, be it a calf, or a musician or a rebbe, be it carved by our hands or rising of its own accord. Isn’t that the lesson here? Idols are sure to disappoint.

  • Good call Laya! If there’s one thing God has never done, it’s dissapoint! That dude always comes through!

    Sheesh.

    There is one and only one figure who has never dissapointed and that’s Lemmy from Motorhead (Muffti doesn’t know how to make umlautzes)! In him Muffti trusts.

  • geez muff, with your logic skills I’m surprised. I said X doesn’t do this, and you assume I mean that Z doesn’t do it either. One does not necessarily follow the other mr. 15k bonus man.

  • Hold on a minute. Can’t we also infer that the making of the golden calf, after all those minute details that were given regarding of the making of the Mishkan, was a manifestation of Bnei Yisrael’s desire for instant gratification?

    I mean, the idea of making a residence, a mishkan, for Hashem, who was perfectly at home in a modestly furnished burning bush, is a reflection of humans’ desire for something tangible that represents holiness. It’s not really necessary for Hashem, according to Midrash.

    The real holiness, we’re told- as far back as the beginning of Bereshit- is the magical seventh day, Shabbat. By fixating on the details of the construction and furnishing of the Mishkan, we’re acknowledging that even before Martha Stewart Living, Domino and Metropolitan Living, we mortals were obsessed with feathering nests. So Hashem said, Okay, if that’s what you need, here are my specs. Just don’t blow it and for My sake and yours, don’t go over budget.

    This condensed Bat Mitzvah speech is courtesy of my daughter, who’s goin’ for the gold this weekend. Peace out.

  • I think the Rabbi is making a valid point not to be so obsessive over trivial matters. A good Rabbi has to push people to get over their barriers.

  • Laya said:

    geez muff, with your logic skills I’m surprised. I said X doesn’t do this, and you assume I mean that Z doesn’t do it either. One does not necessarily follow the other mr. 15k bonus man.

    Muffti is confused. You said we should worship hashem because anything else is liable to disapoint. Muffti suggested that its pretty silly to think that God doesn’t dissapoint, so he wasn’t sure why we should be worshipping either (1) him at all or (2) anything if we don’t worship those that dissapoint.

    Was he missing something? And as of today, it’s 17k…

  • Silly Muffti. Let’s go over this again. I made two statements.

    1)you should not do X, you should do Y
    2)X will disappoint

    While a layman, not receiving 17k bonuses might think that because X disappoints, it neccessitates that Y will NOT disappoint, but you of all people should know better.

  • Sorry, Laya, Muffti read you as saying that you should worship all and only the things that won’t let you down. Otherwise, your comment is rather hard to interpret: the reason you give for NOT worshipping idols is that htey will disapoint and then you suggest without other reason that you should worship God. So Muffti assuemd you were implying that God doesn’t disspoint (providing the reason for trusting him).

    But he sees what you mean: maybe you have independant reason to trust god, even if he does dissapoint. Muffti appologizes.

  • muff – there’s belief and then there’s logic. As you know, two different things. Granted my statement was ambiguous, and I should have phrased it differently in retrospect. I only took you to task for the making the jump in reasoning.

    That having been said, I’m well aware of the disappointments of God. Or perhaps we only view it as a disappointment because we wrongly expect something different than what we get.

    Nonetheless, no matter what expectations you project upon God, it is clear according to our texts that the worship of idols is bad. very bad.

  • The Golden Calf incident is read right after Purim. No coincidence. That’s to force us to be a little SORRY about any excesses we MAY have committed on Purim.

    Purim is SO difficult to celebrate properly! YES, you have to live a mystical day of masks; G-d is masked; Moses was masked too, as he was up on the mountain and nobody could see him. A day we are TESTED as there is Torah to hold onto on Purim. You are on your own. But there is no call to act really badly!

    My humble opinion is that celebrating Purim correctly is the hardest thing in Judaism. Much, much harder than the most rigorous observance of Shabbat.

    We need it. I just don’t like the bad behavior. I am religious, not crazy. I did not check my brains or morals at the door when I became religious.

  • I meant to type, “no Torah to hold onto on Purim”. It too, is masked. G-d not mentioned in the Megillah.

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