In the spirit of the current environmental winds sweeping our state (i.e. plastic bag ban), I have decided that due a time crunch we will recycle a Dvar Torah from a few years back. Do Not Fear! This Dvar Torah is well worth reading a second time!
וַיַּשְׁכִּימוּ מִמָּחֳרָת וַיַּעֲלוּ עֹלֹת וַיַּגִּשׁוּ שְׁלָמִים וַיֵּשֶׁב הָעָם לֶאֱכֹל וְשָׁתוֹ וַיָּקֻמוּ לְצַחֵק
On the next day they arose early, offered up burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings, and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and they got up to make merry.
A common refrain among Chazal is that “The actions of our fathers are a sign of what is to come for (us) their children.” Rabbi Yaakov Galinski shows how the story of the golden calf was a very clear example of this.
For the first time in it’s young history, a portion of the Jews sinned together. This was the first time any of them dared “fly another flag” in principle, to go against the Torah. The way they themselves felt about this treason was indicative of how other treasonous ideals and movements would feel about their own view of what was wanted of us.
The Passuk tells us that they began with bringing “burnt offerings”. This is how it always begins. A burnt offering is a sacrifice of which the one who brings it gets nothing, all of it is burnt to Hashem. The founders of such movements claim, and perhaps legitimately feel, that all they are doing is purely for Hashem’s honor. All they say and do is for the advancement of their ideal, and none of it is for personal reward or pleasure.
Some time passes and the original excitement dissipates. Soon they get to the point of “peace offerings”. These sacrifices, while still a sacrifice and therefore having parts be burnt, will partially go to the one bringing the sacrifice for his own enjoyment. They begin looking for ways to benefit from the movement, and if none are found, they begin questioning if it’s all really worth it.
Later, the turnaround is complete, “and the people sat down to eat and to drink.” The ideal that seemed so holy and lofty just a short time ago is a fading memory. There is no sacrifice remaining from those that remained in the movement, they only wish for personal pleasure.
Finally, there is nothing left for them to stand for other than to go against what they started from, and “they got up to make merry”. They make fun of those staying loyal to “the old way”, and question their entire belief system.