The Jewish perspective in the face of the world

Our perspective is so different from other nations.

Phil Chernofsky ,

Golden Calf
Golden Calf
Courtesy Temple Institute

That's a working title, but it might stay unless something better comes to mind.

This Shabbat we find ourselves in the middle of a couple of different things.

First of all, Purim will have just ended and Pesach will already be looming in front of us.

Second, about a third of the way into Parshat Ki Tisa, we can look back at the Exodus from Egypt, the Splitting of the Sea, the Sinai Experience, and the details of the building of the Mikdash and everything in it.

But then when we look ahead, we see the dark episode of the golden calf, the 'wrath of G-d' that almost brought about the total destruction of the relatively young Jewish Nation. And a bit beyond that, we see the details of the Mishkan and everything in it - but in a different light.

With Pesach coming, we are soon to relive the experience that was the birth of the Nation. Looking back to Purim, we see a bright and happy event that took place in exile from the destruction of the first Beit HaMikdash and was a precursor of the building of the second Beit HaMikdash, which we know was going to be destroyed. Purim is meant to be happy, but when it is over, we have some serious introspecting on our agenda.

Our perspective of events is vastly different from that of the people who lived through the events.

For example, that which took place (according to one school of thought) in the forty days and nights that Moshe spent on Har Sinai, is so clear to us, with all of the detail of the Mishkan, its keilim, the garments of the Kohanim and the Kohein Gadol, various aspects of Temple service - great detail and more to come.

Bnei Yisrael at the time had absolutely no clue as to what was yet to come - the good and the bad.

We are treated to the command to make a Mikdash for HaShem so that He will dwell among us - without the task being colored by Cheit HaEigel. The people of that generation did not hear of the idea of a Mikdash until after the devastating Eigel fiasco.

We cannot judge Dor HaMidbar, or any other generation, for that matter. We have enough challenges of our own.

We need to know that we would have also refused to bow to Haman. That we would have boldly objected to the Eigel revelers. But we cannot know for certain. We just have to try to improve ourselves and our communities as people and as Jews. This is the formula to do our share in bringing the Geula closer and closer.