Vigilance Is good, panic is bad

The sin of the golden calf is very strange. The Israelites thought that Moses would be on the mountain for 40 days, and he did not come down until a day later, on the 41st. In that single day, they built and worshipped the calf.

Imagine the scene.  Did no one say — “Wait, maybe he was delayed! Maybe he took a nap, or found the climbing difficult, or stopped for coffee!” (We have not found archeological remains of Starbucks, but one never knows.) The instant response could only have been due to one thing — panic. And panic makes people do foolish things and fall back unthinkingly on old ways.

In our current situation, vigilance is good, but panic is bad. Clearing out the shelves is panic. If the Israelites had understood the information correctly (it takes time to go up and down a mountain), been more faithful and wiser, they would not have built the calf and ruined that generation’s chance of entering the Promised Land.

Panicking, we do not see and care for one another. The deepest test of our day is not medical, but moral. Continue to be faithful and check on those who are alone. Stuff is not salvation. Be kind and be safe.

About the Author
Named the most influential Rabbi in America by Newsweek Magazine and one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by the Jerusalem Post, David Wolpe is the Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California.
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