17th of TammuzTorah Study

10 Facts About the Sin of the Golden Calf

1.    The golden calf appears in our Parsha as the event in which the children of Israel made a golden statue in the form of a calf, forty days after the giving of the Torah.

2.    This event took place on the 17th of Tammuz. This is one of 5 calamities that occurred on that day.

3.    According to Rashi, the reason for the creation of the calf was a mistake on the part of Israel, who counted forty days from the time Moshe promised to return from the mountain, not taking into account that it’s forty full days not including the day that he went up to the mountain.

4.    The Children of Israel, who thought that Moshe died (the Sages say that the Satan showed them the image of Moshe in the cloud) turned to Aaron and asked him to make another god for them.

5.    Aaron asked them to remove the nose rings of their wives, sons and daughters, which were used to create the golden calf. Aaron declared that the following day will be “A Festival to Hashem”, in order to hold them over until Moshe returns, but the next morning, the nation arose early and began to worship the golden calf.

6.    According to the sages, the key factors for the sin of the golden calf were the riffraff who tagged along to the nation of Israel when they left Egypt.

7.    When Moshe came down from the mountain, he found the people celebrating and worshipping a golden calf. Therefore, he broke the tablets at the foot of the mountain.

8.    Moshe then burned the calf, ground it up, spread its ashes over the water and gave the nation this water to drink. This concept is similar to the idea of the Sotah who is given bitter water to drink.

9.    In addition, he gathered the sons of Levi, the members of his tribe, and instructed them to kill all those who worshipped the calf. The number of people killed was 3000, when in addition, more people were killed in the plague and by drinking Moshe’s water.

10.  Then Moses ascended Mount Sinai again to ask for forgiveness for the sin of the golden calf. Forgiveness was granted when Moshe came down with the second tablets on Yom Kippur, which since became the designated day of atonement.


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