How many can look in the mirror and smile at themselves? Babies have no problem doing this. Is this what maturity brings?
Rashi in his Torah commentary compares the process of the Red Heifer, used to cleanse one of the spiritual impurity of contact with a corpse, to a maidservant summoned to the king’s palace to clean up the mess left by her child. The female cow represents the maidservant, and the child’s mess refers to the tragic sin of the Golden Calf. What does the king’s palace represent? That would seem to be our bodies, the palace for the Neshama, our souls.
In the wake of the greatest revelation of G-d in world history, the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai, the sin of the Golden Calf was one of the most tragic events in world history. Our tradition says the Jewish people, even today, continue to be Divinely judged at some level for this national mishap. Yet, a stain on the soul, a mess left on the floor of the palace does not condemn the palace! It should be cleaned, but G-d shows us the stain caused by sin, even the sin of the Golden Calf, does not define us. Our bodies always remain a palace for the royal Neshama.
Sometimes it’s difficult to look in the mirror, let alone to smile. Maybe we’ve made some mistakes, some of them big, and when we look in the mirror all that negativity stares us back in the face; it’s hard to make eye contact. There’s no need to hesitate. An ugly mistake is not staring back at us. We can always have the confidence to smile at the king’s palace in the reflection and live with the dignity and strength of true royalty.
Rabbi Mordechai Dixler
Program Director, Project Genesis – Torah.org
I have used a technique for many years which has transformed lives;
“Look in a mirror last thing at night befor getting into bed, but just look straight into your eye’s smile then go to bed” Exactly what happens I do not know it is not something I have been taught but works very well.
I watch “Friends” on TV who are as I understand have a Jewish background: What is the take from a Jewish point of view on ‘Promiscuity’ please?
Sincerely, Mr A. M. Watson.
Thanks for posting your comments. Please see this post in regards to promiscuity. The actors on the show may be portrayed as ethnically Jewish, but the script writers do not present an accurate portrayal of Torah Judaism.
To the substance of Rabbi’s comment: Given that the Jews weren’t really a defined religious group at the time Moses went up the mountain, it seems many of them, fresh out of slavery in a “pagan” country, would have been stressed out over the long absence of their only identified leader. In the absence of any clear set of rules, some members of the tribe (not all — the Gaon estimated 600 men and no women) in desperation reverted to ritual they had seen if not joined in the past. The calf (bull in infant form) was an object if worship in many surrounding cultures.
And guess what? Moses came back, and was he upset?! But he was back. Bad behavior will get the attention of a parent (biological or symbolic), even when good behavior goes unremarked.
The calf was bad behavior (even allowing that the tribe had not yet heard the 1st and 2nd commandments), but not a cross-generational tragedy with accompanying need for repentance and equivalent punishment. Dealing with Moses’ anger (and threat of annihilation by Hashem)plus having to drink the nasty soup made from the destroyed calf was sufficient to produce as much comprehension and repentance as the group could reasonably manage.
Not a correct orthodox view, I know, but reasonable in view of the narrative.
Thanks MR for your comments. You do make some interesting points. The idea that we continue to be judged for the Golden Calf is not my own; as I wrote, it’s found in Jewish tradition. In fact, the same commentary of Rashi that I quoted cites this teaching from the Talmud and the Medrash. My understanding of why this sin was a cross generational tragedy is on two levels: 1)On the national level the Jewish people are considered one unit that spans across the generations. 2) The mistakes of earlier generations do have an effect on the descendants and that detrimental effect creates real consequences for the descendants. Unfortunately it’s difficult to elaborate on that through this medium, but that should give some food for thought.
Always, I was under the impression that Hashem had forgiven Israel, until I read what Rashi had said. Could this be the verse that caused him to believe that we are still being judged? “34Go now, lead the people where I told you. See, My angel shall go before you. But when I make an accounting, I will bring them to account for their sins.” (Jewish Publication Society of America (2000). Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures–The New JPS Translation According to the Traditional Hebrew Text (p. 137). Jewish Publication Society. Kindle Edition.)
I find it easy to look at myself in the mirror and smile, not because I have not sinned but because I know I’ve done the best I can. Blocking missionaries to the Jews, is some of the most satisfying work that I do. Jews who are ignorant of the Tenach are the ones who, when presented with FALSE information, fall for the missionaries’ lies and wind up converting to a false religion. When I thwart the intent of the missionaries, I feel WONDERFUL; I have kept a fellow Jew in the fold and that is as good as having a couple bricks of gold.
Personally, I tend to go along with what Mary Roth said above. And I agree with what mdixler said. None of us know for certain.
When people try to say that the Tenach is nonsense, I point out that in no way does it try to gloss over the fact that we were–and still are–a “stiff necked people.” Every other nation’s history attempts to make them look like saints, magnificent people while we Jews tell it like it was. What kills me is that I cannot eat kosher all the time as I live in one of the buckles of the bible belt. “Kosher, what’s that?” is the response I’ve gotten from many a grocery store manager. If that is a monstrous sin, so be it. I am 70, disabled, and am not in a position to be able to AFFORD most of the kosher meats, even if I could find them.
Thank for your most uplifting message! It really gives strength!
i think a great and horrible sin that was commited in the times of moses was the failure to be compassionate with other peoples and other living beings. when god ordered animal sacrifices and the killing of people that occupied the land, mostly everyone was so glad to go ahead and do it, showing no mercy whatsoever. they should have done as lot did, showing mercy with the inhabitants of sodom and gomorrah by pleading and bargaining with g to spare them, even after g had stated his will. maybe if they had showed mercy death would have been taken away from this world.
Thanks angel – very interesting point you make. I’m just not sure that they were so ready to kill people and animals as you said. I know the people did show much compassion and hesitance when conquering the land of Israel and killing those who refused to leave. The Jewish people were asked to kill all of them, but they did leave a number of pockets of Canaanites throughout the land, and they were taken to task for this. This is a complex topic, but I just wanted to bring this up. Also regarding Sodom, I assume you mean Abraham. Lot was a more difficult character who when his guests were threatened by the angry mob in Sodom offered his own daughters in exchange.