Repenting for the Golden Calf

“And they shall confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers, in that they trespassed against Me, yea, were hostile to Me (Leviticus 26:40).”

The Bible records historical accounts that took place between the People of Israel and the nations. When Moses led the Jews out of Egypt, we learn that a “mixed multitude” (eruv rav in Hebrew) went out with them. The culmination of their journeys took place at the giving of Torah (Five Books of Moses) at the foot of Mount Sinai (Exodus 24), but this giving was not meant for themselves alone, but rather to be used as a means to be a light unto the nations (Isaiah 2 and Micah 4).

On the 17th day of the fourth Hebrew month (Tammuz), only 40 days after he ascended Mt. Sinai, Moses breaks the two tablets he received from Hashem upon witnessing Israel’s worship of the Golden Calf. This infamous betrayal of Hashem, coming just a few weeks after the Israelites heard Hashem proclaim, “I am the Lord your God…you shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20), is the initial misfortunate event that befell Israel’s forefathers and is the precursor of the three-week period of sadness and mourning we are entering into, one that has spawned all subsequent regressions and calamities.

Declaring any object or force to be a representation of the Divine or putting one’s trust in anything but God is the very definition of idolatry. Throughout the course of Jewish history, idol worshippers have committed multiple atrocities against the people of Israel. At the same time, the Nation of Israel has, for thousands of years, dedicated a period of time every year to stand before Hashem and repent for the acts of idolatry their own forefathers committed, mainly the Golden Calf, as well as the ways in which they have practiced idolatry of any kind in their own lives.

This year is our opportunity to heal together and pursue shalom (peace) for the entire world. Will you join us?

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