The people saw that Moses was late in coming down from the mountain, the people gathered against Aaron, and they said to him: “Come on! Make us gods that will go before us, because this man Moses, who brought us up from the land of Egypt we don’t know what has become of him.” (Shemos 32:1)
This week’s parsha contains an account of one of the worst sins ever commited: the Golden Calf. How could the Jews go from such a high level to such a low level in such a short time? Only forty days earlier they received the Torah and now they sunk to such a terrible sin.
The answer is they lost hope. They looked at the situation around them and became afraid. They thought Moshe was dead and they worried.
Last week I was talking with my Rav and mentioned that I was very scared of sequestration. I’m not sure if you are following the news, but the situation in America is very frightening. I am writing this on Wednesday night. At midnight of Thursday night/Friday morning, major cuts are going to go in effect if a new solution is not found. Thousands of people will lose their jobs because of these cuts. Hundreds of thousands of employees will be furloughed for possibly over 20 days this year. Numerous government programs will be cut, which will affect everyone from senior citizens to preschool children. Lines at airport security are predicted to take at least 1 hour longer because there will be less employees working there. Chicken and meat may become less available as there will not be enough inspectors. Sequestration is extremely scary!
My Rav responded that I should not use the word “scared” but say I am “concerned”. I asked what he meant by this. He said that when a person is scared, they become frozen. They lose hope. They are afraid and they fall. On the other hand, when a person is concerned, he is aware of the situation, but he does not lose hope. He remains faithful. He tries to grow from the experience. Yes, the terrible things are still happening, but it does not mean the person should give up.
The Golden Calf was a terrible sin because the Jews became scared. They looked at their situation and felt it was hopeless. They fell to a low level because they gave up. They were depressed.
When Yaakov Avinu was returning to Eretz Yisrael with his family after he ran away from his brother, he heard that Esav was coming to meet him. It was a scary moment, but Yaakov did not become depressed. He was concerned and since he did not become scared, he was able to grow in his spirituality. He davened to Hashem and he was able to escape the dangerous situation.
We might be facing very difficult times ahead of us, but we must remain faithful. Although it might look scary, we should grow from this experience. Now is a time to connect with Hashem.
It is very interesting that sequestration is happening the same week we read about the Golden Calf. Maybe the reason is because we are to show that we have learned our lesson and will not do the same sin of losing hope that was done thousands of years ago.
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