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Not right here, not right now

תהליכים שלוקחים זמן

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

A certain rabbi was once asked his opinion of the French Revolution. "It's too early," he said. "It happened only two hundred years ago."

Regarding the hectic and frenetic times in which we live, this week's Torah portion includes a pertinent cautionary tale. The nation of Israel is waiting for Moshe Rabbeinu at the foot of Mount Sinai, but after forty days the people lose their patience. They lack the capacity to wait for the Ten Commandments and quickly prepare a substitute, a golden calf. The source of the sin of the golden calf is impatience, the desire to get everything right here, right now.

Rabbi Yaakov Galinksy was accustomed to say that in our days, too, sometimes "Moshe Rabbeinu is late." The Torah is not always immediately accessible or instantly understood. Eternal values are not necessarily transmitted at superhighway speed. Moshe Rabbeinu is not always the most "in the know" or up-to-date. He has no glittery magic solutions. In contrast to the golden calf, he does not offer any tangible, glittery form of instant gratification. Instead, he demands that the people undergo a lengthy spiritual process.

From then until now, Rabbi Galinsky explained, Jews have been criticized for not living with the times, for not changing in order to fit into the prevailing culture. Perhaps all of us, too, should ask ourselves: When are we, due to our impatience, likely to choose the golden calf over the Ten Commandments and opt for a temporary, fraudulent quick fix over a long-term process of growth?

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