Saturday, March 10, 2012

Ki Tisa - Again Clothes Make the Man

My son HaRav Moshe Eliahu Katz spoke at the Shabbat table about the conversation between Moshe Rabbeinu and his brother Aharon the High Priest, after Moshe discovered that Aharon had created a golden calf.
In Parshat Ki Tisa, Moshe asked Aharon, "What did this people do to you that you brought a grievous sin upon it [by creating the golden calf]?" (Shemot 32:21)
What was Aharon's response? "You know that the people is disposed toward evil...So I said to them, 'Who has gold?'" That's an odd kind of response. The people are disposed toward evil, so I asked them to remove their gold.
Moshe Eliahu explained that the Jewish nation had been entrenched for so many generations in the evil of Egypt, in Egyptian idolatry and "disgraceful behavior" (as Artscroll puts it). One of the negatives of Egypt was the physical pleasures and excesses of gold and vain finery. When the Jews called on Aharon to fashion an idol, when they began renewing their bad old habits, the first thing he thought was, "If I could have them remove the outward look of Egypt with all its gold and jewelry, perhaps they will snap back to their senses."
Unfortunately they were too far gone to bounce back without something more drastic, but Aharon knew something we learned in Parshat Tetzaveh (when we learned about the clothing of the Kohanim), "Clothes make the man."

(Just to remind anyone reading my blogs are written on Motzei Shabbat in Israel.)

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