Moses & the Golden Coin


Moshe Ben-Chaim




This weeks Parsha Ki Tisa includes the sin of the Golden Calf. So great is this sin, that God visits its punishment upon future generations. Of course we must be culpable too, for God does not punish one with no blemish. But if we were not yet alive during that event, in what manner are we culpable?

Subsequent to the nations’ miscount of the 40th day Moses was to descend from his communion with God, the Jews said to Aaron, “Arise and make for us a god that will go before us, for this Moses, the man, who took us up from Egypt, we know not what has become of him.” (Exod. 32:1) We are perplexed at the phrase “the man”. Of course Moses is a man. It is also significant that the Jews’ creation of the Golden Calf took place precisely when the Luchos (Ten Commandments) were being given to Moses.

This Purim I attended a simcha…only for the simcha to be suddenly lost. None other than the shul’s Rabbi was handing to each member a gold coin, which he promised would grant success…of course in exchange for a check. This violates the worst Torah sin – idolatry – and common sense. It is tragic that our very leaders ignore God’s words. God teaches a system of reward and punishment where only our righteous acts earn God’s grace, and our sins earn His punishments. It makes no difference what extraneous activities we perform, if we do not abandon our sins. (Sforno, Deut. 10:17) Yet, this Rabbi misleads others with the false hopes that gold coins offer success. At Sinai, the Jews abandoned God even while awaiting His Torah. The grandest gift was about to be received, yet, their idolatrous instincts preferred imagined, gold remedies. The Torah quotes the Jews who said the  “man” Moses appeared to have died; the Torah highlights this statement, for this overestimation of the “man” is the cause of their sin. Those Jews desired Moses more than God. The congregants in this shul too gave more credit to their leader, than to God’s Torah, and accepted his idolatrous gold coins.

Rashi comments on Exodus 32:34: “There is no punishment that comes upon Israel that does not partake of some punishment of the Gold Calf”. We see why God visits the punishment of the Gold Calf upon us, and why Moshiach has not yet arrived. We too continue the sin of the Gold Calf with our attachment to man and devices: Rebbes, gold coins, mezuzas, segulas, challa keys, red bendels, and an array of lies lead Jews back to idolatrous Egyptian ways.

Many times I write to women on Jewish email groups to stop misleading others. They form challa-baking groups where they insert keys into those loaves, preaching this idolatrous rite can make a barren woman fertile. They organize mikva sessions, where they proliferate the belief that following a pregnant woman into the mikva will make those barren pregnant. And Rabbis say nothing.

 Gentiles, who have abandoned Christianity in favor of Noachide laws, are much more perfected than these Rabbis who deny God’s great fundamental of Reward and Punishment. The Shema Yisrael teaches “And if you veer away and worship other gods…you will quickly be driven from the good land.” (Deut. 11:16,17) Sin drives us out of the land, regardless of our posted mezuzas. So it is truly useless to check mezuzas when calamity befalls you: check yourself instead. And if a woman is barren, and it is due to a sin, she must repent. Foolish keys and mikvas cannot correct an internal flaw. But if she is sinless, then medical help is warranted, not idolatrous rites…regardless of their incorporation of Torah objects. The Gilyon M’harsha (Yoreh Daah, 289) teaches that the mezuza is of no protection and will be “knives in our eyes” if we assume it to be protective.

Today, the Jew believes it is not Teshuva that earns God’s goodness, as God teaches. Today’s Jew feels he or she can sin all they want, and with physical objects like mezuzas, mikvas and challa keys…they can overpower God’s will for them.

This is not Judaism, but Pharaoh’s idolatry. To all community leaders and Rabbis allowing this to continue, you are delaying Moshiach. 

Instead, you must follow the Torah's principle of Reward and Punishment. This fundamental teaches that whoever is righteous, will merit God's providence, with no need for segulos. And if one is wicked, a segulah will not protect him from God's punishments. In either case, God's Torah rejects segulos. God values only the perfect person, who follows kindness, charity and justice. Never in our Torah does God say to follow segulos.