In the Wake of the Golden Calf: Is God Punishing Us?

By :  Yedida Eisenstat (KGS ’14), Editorial Associate, Posen Library of Jewish Civilization and Culture Posted On Jul 6, 2020 / 5779 | Monday Webinar Times of Crisis and Possibility

Part of the series, “Times of Crisis and Possibility”

Download source sheet

Israel’s fashioning of the Golden Calf—an immediate and direct violation of the first commandment they had just heard directly from God—led God to threaten to destroy all of Israel. Responding to this crisis, Moses protected Israel from God’s temper and renegotiated the terms of the people’s relationship with God. In this session, we revisit this episode and closely read a number of fascinating interpretations. In particular, we focus on the questions of divine justice and mercy raised in Rashi’s comment that in every generation God will exact a little bit of punishment from Israel for fashioning the Golden Calf.

View All Sessions in Series


At JTS, we are committed to providing the Jewish community with outstanding classes in Judaic studies. We hope you will partner with us so that we can continue to do so. Did you know that you can sponsor a learning session to honor a loved one, celebrate an occasion, or commemorate a yahrzeit? To learn more visit the Community Learning sponsorship page or email