PASSOVER 2009–III –Why the Golden Calf ?

When thinking about what to say at last night's Seder meal, the image of the Golden Calf came to mind.  The image, as with all Passover visuals, immediately recalls the film The Ten Commandments.

  But the question that all Bble students and readers must ask themselves was "why?"  Why should the Israelites, after being liberated from slavery in Egypt, after being led through the desert by Moses, after being 'supported' by manna from Heaven, protected by a vortex of wind and light, follow the lead of some who didn't trust Moses and led to the creation of a Golden Calf, an idol, an abomination, an affront to Yaweh.

It was perhaps the same impulse that led some to repudiate Moses during the wanderings in the desert, to question his leadership and their decision in leaving the security of Egyptian life, even of slavery, to risk their lives in the uncertainty of the desert.

Perhaps the impulse to build the Golden Calf, to criticize Moses in the desert arose frrom the same source–FEAR–fear of the unknown.

Fear is a powerful force that inhibits change. Fear of the uknown can keep us prisoners of our own present–even if that present is ultimately harmful to us.

It takes immense courage to make change in our lives.  We can easily reject our own inner wisdom which directs us forward.  All change is frightening.  The 'devil' we know is familiar to us, even if it is ultimately a trap which keeps from moving forward.

Perhaps it was fear rather than lack of appreciation that led to the seemingly irrational actions of the Israelites in the desert.  But we should not forget the power of fear to impair us in our own personal journeys. 

In effect we are sabotaging our own best interests, preventing us from reaching our highest potential.

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