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1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. 2 And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. 3 And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. 4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 5 And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD. 6 And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. 7 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 9 And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: 10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation. 11 And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? 12 Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever. 14 And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people. 15 And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written. 16 And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables. 17 And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp. 18 And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear. 19 And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount. 20 And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it. 21 And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them? 22 And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief. 23 For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. 24 And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf. 25 And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:) 26 Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD's side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. 27 And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour. 28 And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men. 29 For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves today to the LORD, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day. 30 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the LORD; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin. 31 And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. 32 Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. 33 And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. 34 Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them. 35 And the LORD plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made.

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1 Sarah R = "The Israelites had lived over 400 years in the land of Egypt. While theirs was a monotheistic worship of the one true God, the land of Egypt was known for the worship of many gods and idols. When faced with tough times, the Israelites returned to what they had known before - the worship of idols. "
2 Yaakov ben Chaim Tzvi = "From chabad.orgBy Rabbi Lazer GurkowIt was a tense moment. Moses had climbed Mount Sinai and had promised to return in forty days. It was now the fortieth day and there was no sign of his return.The people had been skeptical about his survival on the mountaintop with no food or water. But Moses had a reputation of Godliness and they knew him as a miracle worker: they watched him smite the Egyptians, part the Red Sea, guide them through an uncharted desert, deliver manna from heaven and water from a stone. They saw him stand unflinching on the mountain as God's awesome presence descended.But now it was the fortieth day ­­ the day of his promised return ­­ and there was no sign of their leader. Obviously, he had perished on the mountain. The people turned to Aaron, knowing that he, too, was a Godly person, destined for the high priesthood, and beseeched him to "make for us a God." Aaron complied and fashioned a golden calf, which they promptly worshipped.This was an astounding betrayal of the Second Commandment, "You shall have no other Gods but me," within forty days of its issuance. The multitudes were led to idolatry by rabble­rousers, but why did Aaron join in the sin? More pointedly, one might ask: if our ancestors sought a replacement for Moses, why did they replace God?Our ancestors were, in fact, not guilty of replacing God but of making a corporeal image of God, which is also prohibited but is not on par with outright idol worship. This behavior, though inexcusable, was, due to the circumstances, eminently understandable. Our ancestors lived in a world where all cultures related only to corporeal forms of deity. They believed that man must pay homage to God and win His grace, but could not relate directly to an intangible deity. Man must therefore deify objects of his own making that represent his highest idea of the world­directing Godhead. These objects would then be invested by God with divinity and become the bearers of man's fate.Our ancestors, schooled in the Abrahamic belief in an omnipresent, incorporeal God, were nevertheless influenced by surrounding cultures.Contrary to the heathens, they did believe that man could relate to an incorporeal God, but they clung to the notion that a concrete, tangible link is required.God's corporeal instruments seemingly justified this contention. In the Israelites' experience, the Divine presence often dwelled in tangible, or at least visible, symbols and, indeed, artifacts. At the Red Sea it was Moses' staff, at Sinai it was a cloud of glory, in the tabernacle it would be a sacred ark and its extending cherubs. The people saw these accouterments as deified links between an incorporeal God and a physical people. Their mistake was that while those objects had indeed been chosen by God to become a vehicle for his manifestation, they could serve as such only by as the result of the Divine choice and action. Man, however, has neither the authority nor the ability to choose his own vehicle and appoint it a link to God, let alone endow it with divine properties.After their Sinai experience, the people looked to Moses as the primary intermediary. When God uttered the commandments, the people found the experience overwhelming. They asked Moses to stand as their intermediary and transmit God's message to them. They saw Moses as endowed with deified properties and perceived in him a link to the true God, creator of heaven and earth.Again, their mistake was that they saw their "intermediary," rather than God, as the initiative for revelation. For them, it was not God who had brought them out of Egypt by means of Moses, but Moses who had influenced God to redeem them. They had not yet absorbed the Jewish concept that man has direct access to God, but it is God, not man, who established the actions and instruments via which He can be reached.When they thought Moses died, it appeared crucial that a replacement be found. Without one there would be no further access to God and no method of securing his grace. But this time they sought a physical object rather than a living human. Physical objects, they reasoned, can be safely preserved; they don't walk away and disappear as Moses did.Aaron understood the people's mistake, but recognized that if he refused or rebuked them, they would proceed on their own, unhampered. He decided to engage them and draw out the process so as to gain a little time, certain that Moses would soon return. He first demanded that they remove their gold earrings, hoping that they would hesitate to relinquish their jewelry; but the people promptly complied. After melting down the gold, Aaron began to single­handedly design and mold a calf. Aaron then took up an engraving tool and adorned the calf with beautiful images. Upon completion of the calf, he set about building an altar for it. Insisting that only the high priest may build God's altar, he refused all help and painstakingly built it through the night, fully expecting that Moses would return in the morning. But Aaron underestimated the people's zeal. They woke early in the morning and, with Aaron still asleep, deified the calf and worshipped it.Only a handful of Jews were guilty of outright idolatry that morning by actually declaring the calf to be "the God of Israel." Most were only guilty of deifying a physical object in their quest for a link to God. As soon as Moses returned, their need for the calf was obviated and they did not rebel when Moses destroyed itFollowing the Golden Calf fiasco, the Tabernacle (Mishkan) was errected at the center of the Israelite camp to house the Divine Presence. In God's words to Moses, "They shall make for Me a sanctuary, and I shall dwell amidst them." The Tabernacle succeeded where the calf failed because, in the Tabernacle, physical objects become sacred only when they were so designated by God. Unlike the calf, the Tabernacle was chosen at God's behest and therefore became sacred. Indeed, the Tabernacle was considered an atonement for and rectification of the sin of the Golden Calf."
3 Sarah R = "Aaron's participation in this is a bit puzzling. See his explanation in verse 22. Yet when God judges the people, he spares Aaron. There are several possible reasons for this. One, Aaron had already been appointed high priest, and it would be up to him to conduct the sacrifices required to cover this outrageous sin. Two, Aaron repented. When it says in verse 26 that the sons of Levi gathered to the Lord's side, Aaron would have been one of them. Three, God has a habit of using unlikely people to do His will. “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong" (1 Corinthians 1:27)."
4 Yaakov ben Chaim Tzvi = "The actual sentence in Hebrew reads "The Lord spoke to Moses, descend, on account of, the people you brought from Egypt have acted corruptly". Let us examine the differences and why the Original Hebrew conveys a more accurate meaning.The Hebrew word "Vayidaber" means "He [God] Spoke" forcefully as opposed to the typical usage of the word "Vayomer" which means "He [God] Said" in a more friendly tone. The word usage conveys that God was angry with Moses. In addition, the usage of the Hebrew word "Rad", descend, conveys that Moses was diminished in stature on account of the people. The Torah teaches us that people get the leadership they deserve and because the people fell to a lower stature, Moses also descended spiritually on account of their sin.The budding Israelite nation was the greatest generation ever to have lived. Why? Tell me, how many people in your family history were worthy to live through 10 plagues [open miracles] which affected everyone around them but had no negative effect on themselves. How many people do you know which walked through an ocean from one end to the other while walls of water stood at attention waiting for them to pass? How many people alive over the past thousand years personally witnessed God deliver the 10 Commandments and wrote to tell about it? The nation was blessed with these super miraculous events because they were worthy of them in God's eyes.This is also why the Hebrew states that "they acted corruptly" not they "have corrupted themselves, or became corrupt". The difference is that good people sometimes do bad things, however the action is external to their intrinsic goodness. Yes the people sinned, we all do, however that does not mean that they were evil, it means they had not yet adjusted to the newly found freedom they were given. They were still rooted deep in Egyptian customs and rituals and these processes would take longer to remove. The usage of the words "they acted corruptly" implies that it was their behavior that was unacceptable and not the actual essence of the people they were. There were an estimated 2,000,000 people which stood at the foot of mount Sinai according to scriptures (600,000 men without mention of wives and children) and verse 26 says that "only" 3,000 people died for the punishment of creating the Golden Calf, so if only 3,000 actually worshiped the calf, why was the whole nation castigated and punished? Quite simply, because they didn't put a stop to it. In their hearts, the Jews sympathized with the worshipers of the Golden Calf. They too feared what would become of them without the leadership of Moses. And they too wanted desperately to entrust their fate to the hands of a new intermediary. Their knowledge of right and wrong withered before their fear and ultimately failed them. Consequently, because they knew the worship of the Calf was wrong, they shared in the sin for not preventing it from happening, even though they themselves did not take part in it."
5 Sarah R = ""Can our prayers cause God to change his mind?God does not change, but he will adjust his decrees to fit our response. The Bible contains many examples of this - the Hebrews on the outskirts of Canaan (Num. 24:11-23); Hezekiah's repentance on behalf of Israel (2 Chron. 29:3-10:36); the sparing of Ninevah (Jonah 3:1-10)....It is not possible for us to understand how, but God is ultimately in control. We might compare the relationship between God, his will and his people to a chess match between a novice player and a master. The novice can make any move he chooses and the master will respond accordingly. But the master will always be in control of the game. The analogy is limited and cannot be pressed further: God's people 'win' when the Master's will is done."- The Quest Study Bible NIV note"
6 Yaakov ben Chaim Tzvi = "Chabad.org - Yossi GoldmanA seemingly dubious distinction belongs to this week’s Parshah, Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20–30:10). It is the only reading in the Torah—from the first Parshah of the book of Exodus (in which he is born) until the end of the book of Numbers—where the name of Moses is not mentioned. Tetzaveh’s opening words are V’atah tetzaveh—“And you shall command.” The “you” is Moses, and G‑d is telling him what to instruct the Jewish people. But the verse only says “you”—no name, no “Moses.”Why?Some explain that the day of Moses’ passing, 7 Adar, almost always occurs in this week, and the absence of his name is an appropriate symbol of his demise. Others suggest that it is as a result of Moses’ own words. Remember the golden calf episode? The people had sinned, and G‑d was going to wipe them out and start over again with Moses and his own dynasty. Moses defended his errant flock before the Almighty, arguing for their forgiveness. And if not? Well, Moses used some very strong words there. “Mecheini na misifrecha—erase me from Your book that You have written!” Moses himself said that his name should be erased from the Torah if G‑d would not forgive His people. So, even though G‑d did forgive them, the words of a tzaddik (perfectly righteous person) are eternal and leave an impression. The effect of those words, therefore, was that somewhere in the book, in the Torah, his name would be erased. Moses would be missing where he normally should have appeared. Thus it is that in the week when we remember his passing, Moses’ name is gone.So say a variety of commentaries. But, characteristically, the chassidic commentaries, reflecting the inner dimension of Torah, go a step further—and deeper. What’s in a name? they ask. Who needs a name? Does a person require a name for himself? Not really; he knows who he is. So, a name is essentially for other people to be able to attract his attention, so they can call him, address him, etc. In other words, a name is only an external handle, a vehicle for others to identify or describe a person; but it is all outside of the person himself and peripheral to his own true, inner identity. Names are secondary to the essence of an individual. The essence of every person, who he or she really is, is beyond any name, beyond any title.So, why is Moses’ name not mentioned? Because he said “Erase me” after the golden calf? Because he spoke with chutzpah before the Almighty? You think it is a punishment? Not at all, says the Rebbe. On the contrary, this was perhaps the greatest moment in the life of our greatest spiritual leader.What would we imagine to be Moses’ finest hour? Receiving the Torah? Leading the Jews to the Exodus? Splitting the sea? Would you be shocked if I told you it is none of the above? Indeed, Moses’ finest, most glorious, absolutely greatest moment on earth was when he stood his ground before G‑d, pleading for his people, fighting for their forgiveness. His most brilliant, shining hour was when he put his own life and future on the line and said: “G‑d, if they go, I go! If You refuse to forgive these sinners, then erase my name from Your holy Torah!” It was through Moses’ total commitment towards his people that the faithful shepherd saved his flock from extinction. And G‑d Himself was pleased with His chosen shepherd’s words, and acceded to his request.So the absence of Moses’ name this week, far from being a negative, carries with it a profound blessing. It does not say the name Moses, but v’atah—“andyou.” A name is only a name, but here G‑d talks to Moses in the second person directly. You. And the you represents something far deeper than a mere name; it is the you symbolizing the spiritual essence of Moses. And what is that essence? His unflinching commitment to his people, come what may—even if it be at his own expense.This is the very soul of Moses, the faithful shepherd. The you that goes beyond the superficial, and beyond what any name could possibly encapsulate. It represents the deepest core of his neshamah, deeper than any appellation or detailed description could hope to portray.Moses’ name may be missing, but his spiritual presence is felt in a way that no name could ever do justice to. May all our leaders take note and be inspired."