by Annie Glasser, Program Director
Spontaneity and uncertainty used to thrill me – whether leaving for another country without booking a return flight or taking a job working for a camp I’d never been to. Then Covid-19. Now I drive myself crazy thinking and overthinking – to go to the grocery store or to order groceries, to fly home for my grandma’s shivah or to stay safely in my space. It’s a new kind of uncertainty that isn’t solved with a changed flight or google search. For me, it’s paralyzing. In this week’s parashah, Ki Tisa, Aaron is a lot like me in the face of uncertainty, he is risk-averse, for better or worse.
In Ki Tisa we’re met with the epic story of the golden calf. Moses has ascended Mt. Sinai to receive from God and deliver to the people of Israel the Ten Commandments. Moses, who until now has constructively fostered community among the Jewish people, leaves. Aaron is left to lead and when Moses returns the Jewish people are worshiping a golden calf. Why do the people do this? And why does Aaron let them?
The Jews wanted to believe in something and the person who they believed in left. With Moses gone, and no timeline or promises for his return, they lost sight of their trust and their faith and devolved into uncertainty. Meanwhile, Aaron, whom the Rabbis remember as “loving peace and pursuing peace,” in this instance, arguably, pursued peace by attempting to appease the people. In my mind though, Aaron was just paralyzed, like me, and chose the least risky option by appeasing the people who had waited too long for Moses to miraculously return from a mountain covered by fire.
What I’ve learned over the course of the last year, and from Ki Tisa, is that we need to become more comfortable in uncertainty. Not knowing encourages our humility and allows us to lean into our community for knowledge, strength and comfort. Our community can only function constructively and meaningfully when we band together to pursue holiness.