This is one of the longest and most complex Torah sedrahs in the five books of Moses. The text begins with the instruction to collect a half-shekel from every person over 20 years of age as Moses takes a census in the desert. The Torah story shifts to a discussion of the sanctuary furnishings, as well as the priestly garments. All these items are to be made under the direction of Bezalel, an extraordinary artisan. The Torah then shifts back to the period when Moses is standing at Mt. Sinai and the people are waiting for him at the bottom of the mountain. Forty days have passed, and the populous are very anxious.
Aaron gives in to their demands to fashion an idol, a golden calf for their worship. God tells Moses what has transpired and threatens to destroy the Israelites. But through pleading and negotiation, Moses convinces the Almighty to save the people, despite their failures. When Moses sees the idol that the Israelites have fashioned and are worshipping, he shatters
the tablets given by God. He also destroys the golden idol and punishes those who have not shown loyalty to the ineffable God. Can you imagine such a scene in our world? Can you imagine how Moses convinced the Almighty to save the Jewish people?