Sin is human, his correction is divine

The golden calf was a demonstration for our being human beings. Now we can improve.

Phil Chernofsky ,


The question has been asked, how could Bnei Yisrael have sinned with the golden calf a mere 40 days after standing at the foot of Har Sinai, witnessing all the miracles that accompanied Revelation at Sinai, and actually hearing G-d's voice (whatever that means)? It boggles the mind.

And so does another sin. 2448 years before cheit ha'eigel, Adam was given permission by G-d to eat from any tree in the Garden of Eden, EXCEPT from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. And we know what happened. First Chava, then Adam - they sinned. They ate from that tree that G-d had forbidden them to eat from.

One prohibition, just one - and they blew it. And we have the same question for them as we asked already about the golden calf. How could these two people, the first two people to be created, have sinned so soon? And not 40 days after Creation - but, according to our Tradition, on the very day that they were brought into existence.

The answers might be the same. As a result of Adam and Chava having broken G-d's command to them, their relationship with G-d changed. And by extension, the relationship between G-d and all human beings that there ever were or will be, also was changed.

It was decreed that Woman should have pain when she gave birth. It was decreed that Man should work hard to grow and produce food for himself and his family - by the sweat of his brow.

Yes, Adam and Chava sinned. But we can also look at matters a different way. (This is not meant to whitewash what they did. It is just a different way to look at things.)

What Adam and Chava did was a series of very human things to do. To eat what was forbidden. To blame someone else. To hide from G-d. This is what humans do. They were the first pair of humans. They showed all of us - and themselves - what humans do. Being human should not be an excuse to sin. We are held accountable for our negative behavior. But we understand who and what we are. And we needed to see it ourselves.

How could the people sin with the golden calf? They shouldn't have. But they were human. And humans are not angels and they are not divine. Humans have a divine spark within each one, we each have a NESHAMA, which is a part of the Divine essence. But that's only one ingredient. We are also human, and we have failings. We give in to temptation, we make wrong decisions. (But we have great potential - even more than angels do.)

The golden calf was a terrible sin, one which affects all future behavior of the Jewish People. So if G-d was so 'angry' how did He let Moshe talk Him out of destroying the People? Because (perhaps) more than a sin, it was a demonstration (intentional hyphenation) our our being human beings. And we needed to experience it to understand ourselves better. Now we can improve.