Ki Tisa contains the story of the Golden Calf. Ex 32:1, When the people saw that Moses was late in coming down from the mountain, the people gathered against Aaron, and they said to him: “Come on! Make us gods that will go before us, because this man Moses, who brought us up from the land of Egypt we don’t know what has become of him.”
Rashi explains that the people expected Moses to return in 40 days. He was delayed according to Rashi’s reading of the texts by 6 hours. 6 hours delayed after a 40-day encounter with God, and the people rebel. What an extraordinary level of fear that possessed the people to turn against the trust of God and Moses, the covenantal relationship that took the people out of Egypt, crossed the Red Sea and brought them to the moment of revelation, all the Trust undermined by a six-hour delay.
We learn how difficult trust is to build, how important it is and how quickly it can disappear. We embrace trust as a foundation. We speak of trusting in ourselves so that we can make decisions along our way. We believe trust is the basis for any intimate relationship, that we will be cared for and held securely and safely by another and create a deep meaningful relationship permitting ourselves to be vulnerable because we feel protected. And it is precisely in this place that Fear can exercise its damaging power. In a moment, in a blink of an eye, or in this case six hours, Fear can take all we thought we had and burn it down. Rashi suggests that it is Satan who acts to confound the people. Satan is the fear we each carry inside.
It is in the realization that we carry Fear as a primal instinct that we can understand its place. Fear resides inside, maybe a protector from an earlier era in human development. It may have helped us survive certain threats, but it shackles us and keeps us down. Only when we consciously use Trust to defeat it, can we overcome Fear and permit ourselves to be vulnerable, creating bonds and relationships with others upon which we can build. However, these two things need to coexist. Fear continues to protect us from threats and tempers Trust. Trust likewise keeps us from becoming paralyzed by Fear. Each is a part of us and we need both to be whole. But when one takes over the other things fall apart.
Arguably we could say that the people should have trusted in God absolutely. But we know that for most of us that is not true. God had yet to reveal, that was why they were at Sinai and Moses was the man they followed, making God even further removed. Their trust was tested and the relationships were not strong enough. The fear was able to creep in and crush this new relationship.
Trust needs to be nurtured and reinforced to withstand the tests fear makes it endure. The story of the Golden Calf is the story of all of us.