1/ #ReshetKeshet. For #KiTisa, I taught my explanation for why they chose a calf as the object of worship. My exegetical method (parshanut) is peshat focused. I define peshat as an attempt for a necessary interpretation of the text (as opposed to 'drash' which is a possible one)
2/ Why a young, male cow? There could be a lost external significance to that animal, e.g. the Egyptians worshipped cows. We're told that this was the reason for a lamb for the Pesach offering, except: it can also be a goat. And nowhere is cow worship mentioned in Tanakh.
3/ It's tendentious b/c it requires an "okimta" i.e. outside data not found in the text. That takes it outside peshat.

Note, Ramban suggests the Pesach is a lamb b/c the month of Nisan is Aries in the Zodiac. This is more of an internal proof (Pesach needs to be in the Spring).
4/ However, the Pesach can be goat (see Ex. 12:5) which would be Capricorn (if we're playing this game) which would be Tevet. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_vi…

But maybe the calf was brought during Taurus?! Nope. That's Iyar & the calf was in Tamuz which is a crab.
5/ We can see the difficulty of the question by the Midrash which requires deflecting the blame to the Eruv Rav (a POV I find ethically objectionable, see below)
and a strange Okimta that connects to Yosef's bones.
6/ As mentioned above, even if one doesn't accept my view that the Eruv Rav were actually heroes (like Yitro, Ruth & other converts), to blame the Eruv Rav for all the sins in the desert is offensive and runs contrary to key Torah principles of sin and repentance, especially here
7/ The Jewish people incur permanent punishments for the sin of the calf; we lose the original covenant, require the second tablets, the Leviim are elevated, 17th of Tamuz is a fast day, etc. It's unconscionable to punish a person for someone else's sin.
8/ True repentance requires recognizing the responsibility for the sin. Moshe ultimately saves the sinners and restores the covenant by appealing to "zechut avot" - the merit of the Forefathers. This alone shows the Bnei Yisrael were liable for the sin.
9/ It's possible that the Midrash is being euphemistic and actually accepting the great shame and blame for B'nei Yisrael.

The Talmud frequently uses the euphemism "enemies of the Jews" to mean Jews in order to avoid a curse.
10/ Euphemisms are a huge part of ancient thinking & that confounds the #Literalist mindset. Many were for modesty, but there was a deep belief that words carried causative power. See the following sources.
11/ In general, Midrash will say the complete opposite of peshat in order to teach a lesson, and I'd suggest the lesson of "blaming the Eruv Rav for clear sins by Bnei Yisrael" is a tacit acknowledgment of the shameful sin of the Golden Calf.
12/ All of this is to say that we need a text based answer for why Aaron made a cow to fulfill the object requested by the people.

My suggestion is connected to some overlooked verses in Exodus itself plus a key line in Ezekiel.
13/ I need to break for a moment, but the key text is here: Ezekiel 1:7, in the description of angels. The legs of angels are described in Hebrew as "עֵ֔גֶל" which is translated by many as 'rounded' but literally means "calf-like"
14/ More texts to compare; we know the angels had the appearance of 4 creatures, a combination human-lion-eagle-bull.
15/ The feet of angels is important because the leaders of the nation saw what the feet looked like before Moshe went up to Sinai:
וַיִּרְא֕וּ אֵ֖ת אֱלֹהֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְתַ֣חַת רַגְלָ֗יו כְּמַעֲשֵׂה֙ לִבְנַ֣ת הַסַּפִּ֔יר וּכְעֶ֥צֶם הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם לָטֹֽהַר׃
16/ The phrase is "אֱלֹהֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל" which is another name for angels. We know this even from context because God never has a body, & this is emphasized over and over at Mount Sinai: God spoke out of the fire, no image was seen, only a voice was heard
17/ Angels have multiple forms, but in 24:10 the feet are mentioned and combine that with Ezekiel, and their feet are cow shaped.

Much of what I'm saying is supported by Rav Medan, see here:
18/ Since we know the four-creature amalgam makeup "It is possible that the lower half of the keruvim was like that of a calf-ox, the upper half was like that of a lion, including its mane, their wings were like those of an angel, and their faces were like that of man."
19/ As it says in #16, the heavenly feet in 24:10 are possessed by "אֱלֹהֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל" and the golden calf is called "אֱלֹהֶ֙יךָ֙ יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל" in Ex. 32:4. Same plural, same very specific term.
20/ This could even be enough to support the idea that the calf was supposed to depict an angel - based on what the leaders saw at Sinai in the covenant ceremony of Ch. 24. But there's more. Because the calf was supposed to replace Moshe, not replace God.
21/ The demand for a "god" is to replace Moshe not replace God. It's a weird request, but that's what they say.
“Come, make us a god who shall go before us, for that man Moses, who brought us from the land of Egypt—we do not know what has happened to him.”
22/ A key text is the missing piece. Before the leaders see the Angel Feet, the covenant at Sinai finishes up with this promise (Ex. 23:20):

"I am sending an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have made ready." sefaria.org/Exodus.23.20?l…
23/ An angel is being sent to guide us to Israel. But angels can be any shape. An angel is basically "any overt Godly interaction with our world." So the pillars of fire and smoke are angels, per se, but they also came along with a real angel.
24/ Ex. 14:19, before the splitting of the red sea:

"The angel of God, who had been going ahead of the Israelite army, now moved and followed behind them; and the pillar of cloud shifted from in front of them and took up a place behind them"

25/ However, the angel promised in 23:20 has a different role from protection & guidance as seen in 14:19.

In 23:21 we're told: "Pay heed to [the angel] and obey him. Do not defy him, for he will not pardon your offenses, since My Name is in him"
26/ This angel is interactive. They need to heed his voice. They cannot disobey the angel's commands.
הִשָּׁ֧מֶר מִפָּנָ֛יו וּשְׁמַ֥ע בְּקֹל֖וֹ אַל־תַּמֵּ֣ר בּ֑וֹ

Also, this angel will lead them to Israel.(23:23)
27/ What kind of angel is to be listened to? What nature of being will have a Godly/Heavenly appearance but also give commands?

That is a role Moshe will play. Either the angel rests on him, or Moshe commands the angel. But the people are told the angel is their safeguard.
28/ But Moshe is missing. So the people ask for a replacement of the angel that Moshe is supposed to command. What does an angel look like, though? Well, as stated above, the people have seen one part of the angel: the feet. And those feet are shaped like a calf.
29/ So the golden calf is a replacement for the angel that is promised to the people, to lead and protect them on their way to Israel and to aid in the conquest. Moshe is gone, the angel is still needed.
30/ When Aharon made the golden calf, did it look that much different than the Cherubs that were commanded to be made for the Tabernacle? Probably, because Aharon was not an artist.
31/ Do you know who was an artist? Betzalel, appointed in Ex. 31:2.
And, as Prof. Kugel points out, that man's grandfather was Hur. Who probably died refusing to make the idol before they asked Aharon.
32/ There's much more to support this whole thesis. See Rav Bin-Nun and how he emphasizes the differences between the two tablets (as seen in Exodus ch. 34) especially the changed role of the angel.
33/ And I believe this answers another question, as to why Moshe's face shone after receiving the second tablets. See the interregnum period between the two sets of tablets (e.g. Ex. ch. 33). The halo indicates his new role as an angel replacement.
34/ That will be it for now. If you have questions, I will try to answer when possible. #ReshetKeshet #GoldenCalf

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More from @JoshuaCypess

8 Mar
1/ My list of favorite women to follow in honor of #InternationalWomensDay

For reference, here are my lists for 2019 & 2020. Since then I've added more (and taken a few off).

2/ This year I want to spend time highlighting voices - in no particular order - that I consider crucial weekly reading (I print out threads to read over Shabbat b/c during the week I'm working so for me the best time for reflective Twitter is when I can't do other melakha)
3/ I've mentioned before that I use thread-readers often - how else could I read over Shabbat - but some of my favorites don't allow access. But I'm putting on this list those who I find valuable enough that I *would* thread if it was available.
Read 23 tweets
7 Mar
1/ I muscled thru the first episodes of #WandaVison & I'm in ep.5. I have notes.

Look: a problem w/a 'realistic' rendition of superheroes is that the entire superhero concept is inherently fascistic so 'realism' will often end up as creepy apologetics
2/ Moreover: the only real difference between a superhero and supervillain is a mood change. Lex Luthor is a genius & often has powered armor. That's Iron Man, no? Same guy, different moods.

The MCU knows about this problem but IMO handles it badly.
3/ I hated "Civil War" because it recognized the issue but IMO gave multiple characters 'idiot balls' - or decided to make the bad behavior inherent in the characters, which made it a full-fledged Ebert "Idiot Plot"
Read 19 tweets
7 Mar
1/ Also, for Prime People, "High Noon" is available! Possibly my favorite Western ever. It also seems to be a Rorschach test: for some it's an egoistic "My Way" message of the lonely hero; for me it's the depiction of selfish cowardice from the town
2/ So, spoilers:

The hero isn't as interesting to me and IMO this is purposeful: his interchangeability with any other Western Tough Guy is the necessary constant that allows the film to highlight the main conflict: he's abandoned by every other person b/c they're selfish.
3/ Even his decision to stay & fight can be seen as selfishness: (a) his self-regard (as the sappy song incessantly yawps, playing every time he steps outside like it's a shopping mall) & (b) it's better to stop a conflict from ever happening through a show of unified resistance
Read 19 tweets
7 Mar
34.01/ Week thirty-four, March 6-12, 2021, begins here. Last week's thread linked below
34.02/ This just happened:

11yo "What is the word again for throwing things out a window?"
My wife: "Defenestration"
Me: "Yeet"
34.03a/ We've been having Family Movie Night (tm) for these early Sat. nights with me as MC (I've been a movie maven since a wee lad). We went through a three week Bill Murray period (Osmosis Jones, Groundhog Day, Ghostbusters) & last night may start a three wk Danny Kaye series
Read 9 tweets
28 Feb
33.01/ Week thirty-three, Feb. 27-March 5 2021, begins here.

Week thirty-two linked below
33.02/ #ReshetKeshet for #Tetzaveh: a good resource for understanding the laws of the priestly clothing (bigdei kahuna) is the Rambam. See Hilchot Klei Hamikdash, esp. chapters 8-10, in Rabbi Eliyahu Touger's exemplary translation below:
33.03/ I missed the entire discourse about the horrible National Anthem at CPORK? CPAWK? (whatever) but whoa just heard it. My wife just showed me this great attempt by pianist Brandon Ethridge (@brandonethridge) to accompany the roiling swamp of this song
Read 15 tweets
26 Feb
1/ #ReshetKeshet. I'm trying to combine my sociological work on disability with my rabbinic role by writing a Disability Shulchan Arukh, as it were: how halakha applies to full variation of humanity. BTW, the gemara is full of this but invisible disabilities are overlooked.
2/ So, notes on the mitzvah of hearing the #Megillah, which is a disability nightmare. Shas deals with things like blindness:
And deafness: rabbikaganoff.com/megillas-esthe…

But what about #ADHD? For a mitzvah that requires total concentration?!
3/ Or people with sensory overload issues, like #autism & others, who can be quite uncomfortable in rooms packed to the rafters with people graggin' graggers and noisemakers and full tumult (pardon my Yiddish)
Read 14 tweets

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