Computer generated 3D illustration with a Golden Calf

How To Rebuild After Electing A Golden Calf

Jews, Jews, Jews.

We need to talk.

I’m pretty sure that while waiting at Sinai, we all heard the same thing – two tablets coming down; one between man and man, one between us and Gd.

But there’s a whole lot of cognitive dissonance fluttering in the wind these days.

I think we get our relationship with Gd pretty well, despite our imperfect execution. We’re aware of the vastness of the Creator, our appreciation and respect for His Awesomeness, and the yoke that binds us to try to accomplish His Will.

But between man and man, I fear we have forgotten. I fear we have gone insane. I fear we have disconnected so much from the reality of our fellow humans that we are closer to animals now than we may have ever been.

Whatever happened to us having souls?

Whatever happened to us believing that man was created in the image of the Divine- not just the man who dresses like you, or the man that would have been in Auschwitz with you, but the everyday man that surrounds you- of all religions, ethnicities, colors, and beliefs? Do we no longer consider the fact that there is a radiating miracle of Divinity coming out of each one? That we are bound to them as we are bound to Gd, as we are bound to each other?

How we treat each other is of paramount importance. How we protect each other is our responsibility. This is one of our primary missions for which we were spewed down the slope of the heavens and through our mother’s birth canal out into this world. Have you, with the touch of an angel finger beneath your nose, forgotten this simple matter?

I know you want to feel safe. I know you want to conquer terrorism and ensure that you and your children will be able to grow up brave and free.

I do, too. I do. And if building walls and making laws prohibiting the Other from getting to us would create that safety, I, too, would feel inclined to build up fences around myself and proclaim self protection my salvation.

But that’s not how we’re going to become safe.

Pretending that mass amounts of innocent people are the enemy will not change the fact that it is not true. Such destruction will not offer salvation.

The only true safety that exists is in our bound-up relationship with the Infinite. And the Infinite decrees that we must look after all of the innocent souls. We must fight to make the paradoxical reality of collaborative human divinity manifest in this world.

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We’ve spent so many years in this country trying to build up rules to affirm the sacredness of the human being through creating boundaries and protecting rights, through treating each other as we would want to be treated. We’ve fought for those rights, for different religions, genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities, and more. The spoils of accomplishment have become our own tablets.

And Trump comes. Trump comes and, like the Golden Calf, he storms through all of that work to create a rulebook of decency.

But Moshe went back up that mountain, and he brought down better Tablets than he had the first time. Tablets that would never be broken again.

We know that all of the ideals that we and our ancestors worked for haven’t truly manifest anyways. That racism is alive and well, misogyny is rampant, that intolerance and distance are still the undercurrents of our interactions with the Other.

We know that our constant, daily efforts to see each other as not just bodies but also souls- as beautiful, powerful, sacred souls- has fallen pathetically short.

Our work is clearly not yet done. We need to reupholster all of those rights we have stood for throughout the years, and make them a true reality.

Safety lies in the avodah to stand for what is right in this world. To stand for emes. The truth, the reality, is that all of humanity is created in the image of Gd.

Maybe we will lose our lives in this fight. Maybe we will lose our money. But our ultimate life is not here, in this volatile world anyways. Our life is with He who created us, and it’s there that we must resonate.

There is a reason why derech eretz kadma l’Torah, why decency and kind behavior should precede the Torah.

Back in the day, Kohanim would race each other over their task of removing ashes that burnt overnight from the alter. One holy Kohen even shoved another off the ramp, causing him to fall and break his leg. Finally a lottery that was enacted, to end the horrible fighting that surely contradicted Gd’s plan in this world.

Have we, through prioritizing the details, forgotten one simple, grand task in this world? Derech eretz kadma l’Torah. Let’s get deep.

Let’s remember what we’re really here for. Let’s remember that we are all integral to this mission.

Let’s open up our eyes to the divinity of each other, and let’s rebuild those Tablets as we do it. Ones that will never break open again.