At the southern entrance to Tel Aviv, you can see two faces of Israel.
On the right side of the Ayalon Expressway are low-slung homes and factories. People live and things are made. One the left side of the Ayalon is a huge row of steel and glass towers, looking like something out of a video game. Almost nobody lives in these buildings; nothing is produced — except deals.
Welcome to the Golden Calf, circa 2022, where a tiny elite bow down to the god of money and impose their values on the Jewish people.
On the face of it, there never should have been a Golden Calf. The divinity meant to replace G-d was the work of the Egyptian gentiles who had just months earlier joined the Jewish people. This community was tiny compared to the overall population — some 0.5 percent. That means that 99.5 percent were not directly involved in the sin.
And that led to the exchange between G-d and Moses.
“And the Lord said to Moses: I have seen this people and behold they are a stiff-necked people.”
Moses reminded G-d that not all of the people succumbed to the Golden Calf — rather only a tiny minority. The Jews, he pleaded, were innocent. Why do You want to destroy everybody for the sins of a few?
“Why Lord should Your anger be kindled against Your people whom You have brought up from the Land of Egypt with great power and a strong hand?”
Indeed, virtually all of the commentators agree with Moses. The Golden Calf was conceived and executed by the Egyptian exiles. They used gold to tempt the Jews to join the idol worship. After all, the Egyptians reasoned, the Jews brought out tons of gold during the exodus and were clearly hooked on the precious metal.
Rabbi Chaim Bin Atar, known as the Or Hachayim, traces the development of the Golden Calf. The first step by the Egyptians was producing the idol, meant only for their gratification. They exploited the absence of Moses and claimed that he had died.
The Jews saw this and failed to protest.
Then, the Egyptians bowed down to the calf and brought sacrifices. The sin was escalating.
The Jews failed to protest.
Then, the Egyptians pointed to the calf and proclaimed “These are your gods, O Israel, who have brought you up from the land of Egypt.”
The Jews heard this and said nothing.
By this time, the Jewish majority was no longer innocent. Despite their numbers, they allowed the greatest sin imaginable — the replacement of G-d with a molten image. Their acquiescence could not be justified by the need for unity, love or pluralism. The Jews could not dismiss the Egyptians as dumb goyim whose actions would not influence the righteous.
Aaron, the high priest and Moses’ brother, refused to confront the Egyptians. He tried to play for time until Moses returned from Mount Sinai, where he was being taught the Torah by G-d. When Aaron saw the Golden Calf, made from the earrings of Egyptian women and children, he declared, “Tomorrow shall be a festival to the Lord.”
“On the next day, they arose early, presented burnt offerings and peace offerings, and the people sat down to eat, drink ,and rose to become merry.”
Rabbi Ovadiah Sforno, the 16th Century Italian scholar and physician, said this was the worst of the sins. Now, the Egyptians had succeeded in restoring their idol worship and recruited Jews as well. And why not? The festival included everything a red-blooded man could ask for — food, drink and sex. And all of this was free.
The sin of the Golden Calf has marked a primer of Jewish history: the domination of a tiny and assimilated moneyed class over a traditional Jewish community. It is the story of Purim. It is the story of the Holocaust.
It is also the story of the State of Israel, which has shut its doors to devout Jews while facilitating the arrival of hundreds of thousands of gentiles — mostly from the former Soviet Union. Last week, a leading and controversial Orthodox lecturer, Yossi Mizrachi, held discussions with Israeli government officials on this policy.
“Over the last few years, a lot of people were trying to make Aliya to Israel,” Mizrachi, who shuttles between New York and Tel Aviv, said. [https://www.torahanytime.com/#/lectures?v=179162] “Once they find out that they are religious they give them the run-around. The Jewish Agency is not interested in bringing religious Jews They only want to bring Reform, they want to bring gays, they want to bring goyim. Any time they found out that the applicant is religious or a convert, they began to torture them… They on purpose ask for this [documents] that they know there is no chance for you to get. I heard this dozens of times.”
Like the ancient Egyptians, the gentile immigrants have brought their gods. They have turned into a massive lobbying group for intermarriage, churches, pork and desecration of the Jewish Sabbath. Like the Egyptians, the new arrivals come with money and generate Western funding for refugee resettlement. Today, the Jewish politicians compete for their attention and votes.
The Golden Calf didn’t last long. Moses arrived and burned the idol, ground it to fine powder, scattered it on the water and forced everybody to drink. Those who had sinned would soon be identified by the bulge of their bellies.
“So Moses stood in the gate of the camp and said: ‘Whoever is for the Lord, [let him come] to me!’ And all the sons of Levi gathered around him.”
Moses saved the Jewish people from G-d’s wrath. In matter of hours, it was over.
Who will save us from today’s Golden Calf?