Crushed By an Idol: Part One: Questions
Feb 14th, 2011 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week
What do you do with a Golden Calf in middle of the desert? You can only party for so long. Eventually, you have to travel and find a place to settle. How do you travel with a Golden Calf?
“Menashe made an image as heavy as a thousand men, and every day it slew all of them.” He insisted that the Sages carry it around Jerusalem all day and its enormous weight crushed such a number every day. (Rashi)
Who was going to carry the Golden Calf? How would they move it around in the hot desert?
Even if they would have figured out a system with which to transport their idol, would they have stopped with the Golden Calf? Menashe didn’t:
R. Yochanan said: At first he made it with one face, but subsequently he made it with four faces, that the Shechinah might see it, and be angry.
Menashe wanted God to respond, even if in anger. Would the Children of Israel have done the same? Was that part of what they desired”
Menashe placed it in the Temple, as it is written, “And he set up a graven image of the grove that he had made in the house, of which the Lord said to David, and to Solomon his son, ‘In this house, and in Jerusalem which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel will I put my name forever.’” (Sanhedrin 103b)
Menashe, when imprisoned, first called upon many deities, and only eventually called upon the God of his fathers. (Sanhedrin 101b) “And when he was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God,” implying that he had prayed to other deities before. ‘If You will not hearken to my prayer,’ he pleaded, ‘of what profit was my turning to You?’ (Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 10:9)
Even Menashe eventually returned to God. Would the Children of Israel have done the same upon realizing that their new deity could not protect them in the desert?
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