Thursday, February 28, 2013

Aaron vs. Moses: Who is the Ideal Jewish Leader?

Who is the Ideal Jewish Leader?

Mr. Patience vs. Mr. Action

Mr. Cool vs Mr. Hot-Under-the Collar

Aaron vs. Moses

Click here for a Parsha Packet for the portion of Ki Tisa, discussing who is the ideal Jewish leader, Aaron or Moses? The Torah sets it up as a clear choice and interesting dichotomy, and later Jewish sources chime in.  

And in this portion God comes off as both types of leader: infinitely patient (in fact the very definition of mercy in Exodus 34) yet also willing to inflict severe and immediate retribution.

ו  וַיַּעֲבֹר יְהוָה עַל-פָּנָיו, וַיִּקְרָא, יְהוָה יְהוָה, אֵל רַחוּם וְחַנּוּן--אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם, וְרַב-חֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת.
Exodus 34:6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed: 'The LORD, the LORD, God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth;
ז  נֹצֵר חֶסֶד לָאֲלָפִים, נֹשֵׂא עָוֹן וָפֶשַׁע וְחַטָּאָה; וְנַקֵּה
Keeping mercy unto the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin

Add to this the fascinating historical background provided by modern biblical critics connecting this story to the biblical account where King Jeroboam constructs two golden calves at  shrines in Dan and Beth El (see in this link notes 71-76). In fact there were those who sought to discredit the entire Aaronic line of the priesthood by tying him to this story.   

So who would YOU pick?  The guy who threw down the tablets or the guy who built the Golden Calf???

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