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Why was the Golden Calf created?

by Rabbi Simcha Bart

  

Library » History » Desert Sojourn | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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Question:

Moses, why did the Jewish people lose faith in you while you were on Mt. Sinai?

Answer:

They miscalculated the forty days I was supposed to be on the mountain, and when they saw that I didn't return, they thought I wasn't coming back.

See Exodus 32:1

"When 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."

Satan came and brought confusion into the world and showed a semblance of darkness... indicating [that] Moses had surely died.
Rashi explains the reason for their miscalculation:

"When Moses went up the mountain, he said to them [the Israelites], ‘At the end of forty days I will come, within six hours’ [from sunrise of the fortieth day]. They thought that the day he went up was included, but [in fact] he had said to them, "forty days," [meaning] complete [days], including the night [before]. But the day of his ascent did not have its night included with it for [Moses ascended in the morning] on the seventh of Sivan. Thus, the fortieth day [of Moses' absence] was the seventeenth of Tammuz. On the sixteenth [of Tammuz], Satan came and brought confusion into the world and showed a semblance of darkness, [even] pitch darkness, and confusion, [as if] indicating [that] Moses had surely died and therefore confusion had come upon the world. He [Satan] said to them, "Moses has died, for six [additional] hours have already passed, and he has not come, etc.,"


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RELATED CATEGORIES

History

Rashi
Acronym for Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (1040-1105). Legendary French scholar who authored the fundemental and widely accepted "Rashi commentary" on the entire Bible and Talmud.
Moses
[Hebrew pronunciation: Moshe] Greatest prophet to ever live. Led the Jews out of Egyptian bondage amidst awesome miracles; brought down the Tablets from Mount Sinai; and transmitted to us word-for-word the Torah he heard from G-d's mouth. Died in the year 1272 BCE.
Sivan
The third month on the Jewish calendar, normally corresponding to May-June. This month features the holiday of Shavuot.
Tammuz
The fourth month on the Jewish calendar, normally corresponding to June-July.
Aaron
Brother of Moses. First High Priest of Israel and progenitor of all Kohanim (priests) until this very day. Died in the year 1272 b.c.e.
Exodus
1. The miraculous departure of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage in 1312 BCE. 2. The second of the Five Books of Moses. This book describes the aforementioned Exodus, the giving of the Torah, and the erection of the Tabernacle.