These are manifest into the material world as love's ways and means. Aaron as the high priest is indeed the connecting element in our relationship with the Creator, though Moses as our highest knowledge of Him enables this connection. If our knowledge of God's love is poor, our connection with Him is also poor.
This knowledge is the premise to conceive who we are and what is our purpose in the material world. If we don't have it, ego's fantasies and illusions take over our consciousness. This occurrence is immediate because all levels of consciousness must be filled at all times with the choices we make in terms of ideas, beliefs, thoughts, emotions, feelings, passions and instincts. It works like this because it is part of human nature.
We must be mindful constantly of our knowledge of God and His love, because from it depends not only our connection to Him but our identity and purpose as His chosen ones.
This explains the following verse.
“When the people saw that Moses was late in coming down from the mountain, the people gathered against Aaron, and they said to him: 'Come on! Make us gods [idols] that will go before us because this man Moses, who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we don't know what has become of him'.” (Exodus 32:1)
God's love infuses our knowledge of Him to lead us in His ways.
“And the Lord said to Moses: 'Go, descend, for your people that you have brought up from the land of Egypt have acted corruptly.” (32:7)
In our awareness of God's ways we can dissipate the illusions that corrupt our true essence, identity and purpose. Our sages explain that the words in Hebrew and Aramaic for “idols” also mean “molds” from which “masks” are made. The masks we wear are the idols we follow instead of love's ways and attributes which are our true essence.
Let's be aware that ego's fantasies and illusions in the material world, as well as evil, are only references for us to exercise our free will in order to make the right choices. They are not there to be attached to or to be submitted in slavery to them, no matter how stubborn we may be in falling into their ephemeral pleasures.
“And the Lord said to Moses: 'I have seen this people and behold! they are a stiff necked people'.” (32:9)
We Jews are intensively passionate in every aspect, trait and level of consciousness. This is the best positive quality as long as we direct it into God's ways and attributes. Let's be stubborn in becoming the goodness and blessings of God's love. Let's be the privileged and honored emissaries of His ways to make this material realm into His dwelling place amid us. See in this blog our commentary on Parshat Ki Tisa: “Between ego's fantasies and love's truth” on February 13, 2011.
God's love as our essence and identity must be embraced with all our might and ardent passion in what we discern, think, feel, speak and do. Once we enthrone love in all dimensions of consciousness, we transform all the illusions of the material world into the truthfulness of love's ways and attributes.
This is one of the hidden meanings of this coming verse.
“Then he [Moses] took the [golden] calf they had made, burned it in fire, ground it to fine [gold] powder, scattered [it] upon the surface of the water, and gave [it to] the children of Israel to drink.” (32:20)
The intense and passionate drive force (gold) of ego (the calf) must be transformed (“burned in fire” as sublimated by God's ways and attributes through the fire of His love) through humbleness (“powder”, dust) in our consciousness (“the surface of water”, water as thought or cognitive ability) with which we lead all its traits and qualities (the children of Israel).
In this sense, gold represents the most intense and passionate drive to be near the Creator and His love. Silver represents our discernment and understanding. Copper symbolizes our emotions, feelings and instincts.
Living in the realm of material illusions and striving to make love's attributes prevail among such illusions indeed become a constant war until we make love prevail over the negative aspects of consciousness.
“And Moses saw the people, that they were exposed, for Aaron had exposed them to be disgraced before their adversaries.” (32:25)
When we are betrayed and disgraced by ego's fantasies we hold on the goodness of love that sustains us as our true essence.
“So Moses stood in the gate of the camp and said: 'Whoever is for the Lord, [let him come] to me!' And all the sons of Levi gathered around him.” (32:26)
The sons of Levi represent the positive qualities in our consciousness that never betray love's ways and attributes as the awareness of our permanent connection with God's love. In this awareness we fight with and for love's ways against the negative and destructive traits of ego's materialistic fantasies and illusions.
Our sages say that the sin of the golden calf was orchestrated by God's love to teach us two things. First, that no matter the negative choices we make, we always can return to His love. Israel had to experience making the worst choices (falling into the idolatry of ego's illusions and commit the worst transgressions in their name) in order to show us that we can renounce them by choosing back to His ways and attributes. And second, He confirmed this by revealing to us (through Moses) His attributes of compassion (34:6-7).
By God's attributes we learn to know Him, and through this knowledge our connection to Him. Let's reflect on this verse previous to His revelation to Moses.
“Then I will remove My hand and you will see My back but My face shall not be seen.” (33:23)
Our sages explain that His “back” is what we see that He has done (His Creation) and His sustenance of it. Indeed we know Him through His works, through what His hand leaves behind, that which emanates form His love.
When we enthrone His love as His ways and attributes in all levels of consciousness, we radiate them in our faces as the reflection of our true essence and identity.
“Then the children of Israel would see Moses' face, that the skin of Moses' face had become radiant, and [then] Moses would replace the covering over his face until he would come [again] to speak with Him.” (34:35)
As we become fully aware of the knowledge of the Creator (as Moses was) we manifest (radiate) it in what we believe, think, feel, speak and do.
This is Israel's legacy, our legacy as Jews, our inheritance as the chosen people, the people of the Torah. Still it is our choice to embrace it. The prophet reminded us in ancient times, and also reminds us now.
“And Elijah drew near to all the people and said, 'Until when are you hopping between [over] two ideas? If the Lord is God, go after Him; and if the Baal, go after him'. And the people did not answer him a word.” (I Kings 18:21)
Are we also going to answer not a single word? It's either the truthfulness of love's ways and attributes, or the falsehood of ego's fantasies and illusions. The choice is ours.