Gotta be quick now. I spent my day off walking/power-walking to Universal Studios and back; at least 20 miles total over a 5 hour period. I will probably make the mapmyrun soon and will likely post the "best-of" walks on this site in due course. Anyway, that takes away from my writing time and I decided to spend the majority of the few minutes I have before services (which at this time of year are an hour before Shabbat even starts; to change in two days witeh DST) on the "Triple Shin" required before Shabbat.
Quickly on the Torah Portion, and I must come back to it later as it is very important, this is one of the most important Portions in the Bible, that of the account of the Golden Calf as well as God and Moses' responses to the events. God seeks to destroy Israel and replace them with a nation of the descendants of Moses and Moses successfully changes the mind of God.
A couple of themes to think about over Shabbat, something I planned on teaching my class on Wednesday but we had a fire drill that screwed-up my timing:\
Aaron v. Hur: If you were in a dangerous situation where you had the option of either acceding to the depravity of the lynch mob though you know that it is wrong (and likely don't want to do it) or standing up against them and likely becoming a martyr when they assassinate you, which option do you choose? Hur condemned the people for ceasing their belief that Moses was alive and coming back after, by their count, 40+ days on the mountain and for contemplating building a statue to worship and for his trouble, according to the midrash, he was killed by a stoning mob. Aaron in response to this, fulfilled the mob's request to build the idol of the Golden Calf, though he knew it was wrong, perhaps to save himself. What would you do?
God's nature, anthropomorphisms, etc: Here we have the Thirteen Attributes of God, describing God's nature, as well as copious anthropomorphic references to God's Face, Back, Hand. What is your belief in God and if you believe, what is God's nature? Spirit? Body? Unknowable ("No man can see my face and live")?
Can one change God's Mind? Is it wise to try to do so? Ask Moses.
What's with that paradoxical Chok of the Parah Adumah, the Red Heifer? It makes pure those who are impure and makes impure those who are pure? King Solomon claimed even he couldn't figure this out? What do you make of it?
Have a peaceful and cow-filled Shabbat.