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March 01, 1991 - Image 50

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-03-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

TORAH PORTION

Victims of the National Socialist Regime

MAY register claims with regard to
property rights in the former
German Democratic Republic (GDR)

Aaron's Role In The
Golden Calf Incident

RABBI RICHARD HERTZ

Special to The Jewish News

From the German Federal Ministry of Justice:
Under the act on the Settlement of Open Property Issues
which came into effect with the Treaty on the Establishment of
German Unity, individuals and associations persecuted in the
period from 30 January 1933 to 8 May 1945 on the basis of
their race, political convictions, faith or particular philosophy
(Weltan-schauung) and who thus lost property located in the
former GDR due to inter olio compulsory sales or
expropriations, may now have this property returned.

wever, Claims must

To simplify the registration process, victims of persecution under
the National Socialist regime may address their registrations to
the Federal Ministry of Justice, Heinemannstrasse 6, D-5300
Bonn 2, Federal Republic of Germany.
Applications may also be forwarded to the Federal Ministry of
Justice via the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of
Germany (2100 Edison Plaza, 660 Plaza Drive, Detroit, MI
48226-1271). In all cases, however, the Federal Minister of
Justice must have received registrations by 31 March 1991 at
the latest.

Experienced Advice From
People You Know

NORTON STERN

RICHARD WOMACK

INVESTMENT FOCUS • WEEKDAYS 5 P.M.

WLQV 1500 AM

50 FRIDAY. MARCH 1. 1991

A

aron, Moses' older
brother, is the central
figure in this week's
sedra about the Golden Calf
and the case of apostasy. Lit-
tle is recounted about Aaron's
youth except that he was
known as an eloquent
speaker and became Moses'
spokesman in appearing
before Pharaoh. It was his
magical rod that turned into
a serpent, swallowing up the
serpent rods of the Egyptian
magicians when Aaron and
Moses appeared before
Pharaoh.
During Moses' 40 day
absence on Mt. Sinai, Aaron,
yielding to popular insistence,
fashioned a golden calf that
became a cause for apostasy.
Moses had taught the
Israelites that an unseen God
was the source of their protec-
tion. Evidently, the people
were not completely convinc-
ed. "What we need," they said
among themselves, "is a god
down here just where we are.
This man Moses has gone off
and deserted us. We will have
to take matters into our own
hands and get ourselves a god
that we can see and trust!'
While Moses was gone at
Mt. Sinai, the Israelites
couldn't bear being without
his dynamic leadership. Some
wanted to return to the
fleshpots of Egypt rather
than push on in to the
wilderness. Each day that
Moses was gone found the
people more cantankerous
and more rebellious, too much
for Aaron to handle in Moses'
absence. They wanted some
visible symbol, some visible
image of a God who could
deliver them and save them
in the desert.
When Hur, a faithful
Israelite, stepped forward and
reprimanded the people for
being faithless to the one in-
visible God that Moses had
taught them, he was cut down
by hysterical people and put
to death. Aaron was threaten-
ed by the same fate unless he
yielded to the people's
demand.
It looks as if Aaron is a col-
laborator in the building of
the golden calf and even in
the arranging of the festivi-
ties celebrating it. Was he an
ineffective leader in the
absence of Moses? Did he
really do all he could have

Richard Hertz is rabbi
emeritus of Temple Beth El.

done to restrain the people?
Why didn't Aaron refuse to do
what the people demanded?
The Midrash answers these
questions by saying that
Aaron realized it would be
futile to do so because the
people had murdered Hur for
trying to restrain them.
Why then did he himself
make the idol? The Midrash
replies that Aaron preferred
to be alone responsible for the
sin of which he was deeply
conscious. Aaron tried delay-
ing tactics until Moses would
return. He felt sure that by
the time the calf was molded,
Moses would be back. Some
commentators thought that
magicians produced an illu-
sion showing Moses to be
dead. And when the people, in
hysteria, clamored for a visi-
ble god, Aaron, who hated

Kit Tisa:
Exodus
30:11-34:35,
Kings I 18:1-39

confrontations and was above
all a man of peace, gave in.
The rabbis say that Aaron,
always a man of peace,
thought of a scheme which
would stall off the people un-
til Moses would return. He
ordered the wives to bring
him their golden ornaments
and jewelry, for he believed
the women of Israel had
greater faith than the men.
They would refuse to give up
their jewelry for some
idolatrous practice. But to the
discomfiture of Aaron, the
women refused. Surprisingly,
the men gave up their gold.
Aaron put the gold in the
fire. "Out came a calf! This is
thy god 0 Israel!"
That's when Moses came
down from the heights of
Sinai and heard the rumbl-
ings of the people shouting
and dancing before the golden
calf.
Why wasn't Aaron punish-
ed more emphatically for
such a grievous offense?
There seems to have been a
perceptible tendency in the
Torah to de-emphasize
Aaron's respnsibility. The
Midrash says that when the
people approached Aaron and
demanded a visible god, they,
not he, identified the calf with
divinity. He did not par-
ticipate in the worship of the
Golden Calf, nor is his name
mentioned when Moses
reprimanded the people.
Like Moses, Aaron was not

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