Thursday, March 12, 2009

Mountain, what Mountain?

By Sweet T

This is one of the more interesting portions for me. It captures beautifully one of my favorite sayings: sometimes you have to trim a bush to make it grow. And it’s also where the law forbidding mixing milk and meat together comes from, thus banning the delicious cheeseburger, turkey and swiss (please milk a turkey, I beg you), and other delectable combinations.

The most striking part of this portion is the killing of three thousand men for religious sin, in this case worshipping a golden calf. Moses comes down from Sinai only to find the Hebrews worshipping an idol (of him, ironically), becomes so maddened he orders the Levi Clan to attack the idolaters.

Now three thousand men was quite a lot for a group that had just escaped Egypt and was heading to an unknown land to physically conquer it from the people that dwelled there. Everyone man counts (sorry ladies, while women had much to lose if their men lost in battle, I don’t think they were involved in the fighting), and they could ill afford to lose a good chunk of their force. I’m sure this was going through Moses head; it had to be. It’s was only a few hours before when we was pleading with God not to kill them all when he was up on Sinai. So he obviously felt a value for his peoples’ lives.

Unfortunately, we can’t ever know what he was thinking, but I’m willing to guess he had a moment of realization: that moment when you realize whatever path you’re heading down is not going to get the job done. We might be paying credit card bills, and making the minimum payment each month, but when you do the math, and figure out with interest, that at that current payment, it will take you three years to erase $3,000 worth of debt.

What you do has a lot to do with the type of person you are. Whether it’s realizing that your workout regimen isn’t going to help you lose weight, or whether you figure out that the amount of money you’re spending on car repairs you could put into a newer vehicle that wouldn’t break down, we all have these moments where we understand our situation and recognize the unavoidable need for change. Some people act and make the necessary changes, and succeed (hopefully). But just as easily, some don’t make the changes. And as my ex-Marine uncle has told me, “idiocy is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.” You want to erase the Visa bill, change your budget and pay more of it off.

Moses understands this. He has a few options here. He can allow it happen, disallow it and forgive, exile the sinners or, as he does, kill them all. Each option brings with it a stronger effort to dissuade his members from doing it ever again. Think, if he had just forgiven them, would Judaism still exist, today? Would it had just been a matter of time before the Hebrews regressed again?

Whether or not you agree with the method, the result still stands. In order to accomplish great things, you must take great action. I use this story as an allegory, not a encouragement of mass extermination. And I encourage all of us to look forward to those moments in our lives, and make the changes on a consistent basis. I think when we are honest with ourselves, just as Moses was when he came down and saw it for himself, we lead a more fulfilling life.

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