When I teach at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires in the summer, one of our most popular activities is the Biblical Victims Unit. We look at classic stories from the Torah and set up courtrooms to put various characters on trial, such as Ya’akov for stealing his brother’s blessing, or Moshe for killing the Egyptian taskmaster. Through close reading of the text and commentaries, the students collaborate on a script, and act it out while their peers serve as the jury.
Another of our classic BVU episodes centers of the role of Aharon in building the Golden Calf, the story that dominates this week’s Torah reading, Ki Tissa. The stakes are high indeed, for idolatry is a capital crime, and the implications of Aharon’s alleged role in building the Calf are serious indeed.
You might well ask why Aharon didn’t simply face down the Israelites and deny their request. If he was sure that Moshe would return shortly, he could have calmed the people’s anxiety. So why didn’t he do so?
On Shabbat morning, we’ll look closely at the circumstances surrounding the peoples’ request, and Aharon’s initial reactions.