I don't know about you, but I tend to be very impatient. I often find myself seeking immediate, tangible ways to satisfy my wants and needs. This is not always the most productive, sustainable or fulfilling remedy. And I suspect I am not alone!
This week's Torah portion, Ki Tisa, tells the story of the golden calf. Moses has ascended Mt. Sinai and remains absent for 40 days and 40 nights. Missing their revered leader and uncertain whether he will return, the Israelites convince Aaron to help them create an idol: a tangible representation of the Divine that they can worship. This rebellious act has clear consequences, and Moses ultimately must intercede on the people's behalf.
The golden calf is an example of what can happen when we are unable or unwilling to delay gratification or when we lack the faith to await a more satisfying and productive outcome. As the Israelites learned, Moses' return would usher in the most significant event in all of Jewish history. Can we even begin to compare the long-term value of the golden calf with the Ten Commandments? It's clear that in the end, G-d's gift of the Torah is worth the wait.
This story still holds a lesson for the Jewish people today. Occasionally we still need to be reminded of the need to take the long view and not be distracted by short-term fixes. Our continued viability demands patience and a respect for process, faith in our collective leadership abilities, and continued hope that together we can meet our needs in ways that are sustainable and satisfying for all.
Fortunately, we Jews have a time-honored tradition that reminds us to slow down: Shabbat. It offers us the chance to rekindle our hope and faith so that we can more carefully consider the distance we need to travel.
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