Explanation after the calf
What can I say about the episode of the “golden calf” that hasn’t already been said?
We were scared. Impatient. Left by ourselves in the desert while Moses went to hang out with God up on the mountain for 40 days. Maybe even a little giddy from the whole adventure and not quite in our right minds. What to do when the entire world has been turned upside down? What to do once you’ve been delivered from slavery by a faceless God who speaks through plague & thunder, a cerebral Being with a particular attachment to order and law?
We lost it. Went a little wild. Behaved like the pagans, only more so. Really, what did God (and Moses) expect? We were – as this week’s poem explains – a lonely and unpracticed people.
The epigraph to the poem is No human can see me and live! — words spoken to Moses after he convinces God not to destroy the Hebrews for their lack of judgment & to try again with the tablets. To not give up when things got a little off-track. The last line in the poem, slightly altered, comes from from Karen Alkalay-Gut’s poem “Dividing”: all I know of love, I learned from your back. To my mind, these two quotes capture (and bookend) not only the episode of the calf, but human-divine interaction in general.
Existential wrangling. That’s all I’ve got for this week. Awaiting your thoughts.