Melting the Golden Calf
Moshe Ben-Chaim
Reader: If Moses melted the calf, then how did he grind it into fine powder? I wouldn't know where to begin with the Talmud.
Mesora: The physics is not a problem, after Moses melted the calf, it cooled and hardened, now ready to be ground. The question is why Moses did both, melting and grinding. Perhaps this teaches that had Moses simply ground the calf, people would feel they were drinking something of the calf per se, an idolatrous rite. Moses did not want to mislead the people further, so he first removed the form of the calf from the gold through melting it. Now, in the gold's unformed state, Moses ground the gold and made the Jews drink of the gold dust, mixed in water which emanated from the Mountain.

Moses would not institute any practice relating to the worshiped form of "calf". Melting was prior to the grinding to rid the gold of the form of the calf.

Additionally, Moses' act gives us an insight into Jewish Law - "Halacha." One might argue that the gold - be it melted or in the original form of the calf - is still the "substance" that was worshiped and should therefore retain the status of an idol. While the substance is the same, however, the object is not. Halacha is not governed by rules of physics - just the opposite is true. Halacha tells us what the object is. When one steals, if a change occurs in the object, the law to return the stolen object can no longer be fulfilled, as the 'stolen object' no longer exists. Halacha views a substantial change in form as a totally new object. Payment must be made in place of the object's return.
Here too, Moses melted the Calf so the Jews would not relate to it, but to mere gold. Halacha defines our reality. This teaches us that our lives are to be governed by intelligence and wisdom, not by an overestimation of the physical.