Saturday, March 06, 2010
The Weekly Portion: "Ki Tisa"
Our Weekly Bible Portion (parashat hashavua, in Hebrew) is called "Ki Tisa" and deals with the Golden Calf incident. Visualize this: The Hebrews, having left behind Egypt and the pyramid building trade, find themselves leaderless as Moses went to meditate on the mountain and has not returned. What do they do? Wisely, they choose a new leadership which proclaims that Moses was some kind of crazy impostor and they institute a regular religion like the Egyptians. The Hebrews are only too happy to be able to breath free and dance and have some fun. It is obvious that they had a very low opinion of the miracles they just witnessed and they had never "really" believed in Moses's stories and impositions. It may be asked, if the people who actually lived the miracles did not believe in them, how can one who just heard about them from long dead priests (who hold shares in the miracle-business), can take seriously the whole thing?
The only thing standing between the Bible and total disbelief is the fact that the story of the golden calf is even mentioned. Being such a total, first-hand negation of the supposed miracles and divine intervention that Moses said took place, why not to cover the whole affair under the silence of history and forget the whole thing as if never happened? I would have done exactly that. But the story is there and we learn that Moses returned as the Hebrews were celebrating some kind of an orgy around the golden calf. Aaron, the chief priest of God, is revealed as an unprincipled whore, a man equally willing to serve Moses's God and the Golden Calf. Yet Aaron, the Cohen, emerges unharmed from the episode and his descendants are honored in the synagogues. The new leaders that dared to substitute Moses are duely punished and killed and the miserable Hebrew lumpen beaten back to Moses's cult and forced to aknowledge who the real God is and who is his representative on this Earth. Discipline and order is restored, Moses doubles the number of commandments and decretes death for the slightest sign of disrespect.
What do we learn from the Weekly Portion? That a prudent Hebrew will serve the Golden Calf with one eye open and watching the mountain, so that fanatic Moses will not catch him sinning with a liberated Hebrew slave-girl.