A Lesson on Second Chances

Noa Rone (Provided)

In the Torah portion that we read on Shabbat Sukkot, Moses brings the Israelites another set of tablets. These tablets replace the first set that was broken in anger and disappointment because of the Golden Calf.

For those who need a reminder: The Israelites hadn’t seen Moses in weeks and started believing that he abandoned them. Not knowing who to turn to, the Israelites came up with what in their minds was a brilliant idea — to build a beautiful gold calf to be their new savior. It seems that they quickly convinced Aaron, Moses’ brother, to turn on Moses and oversee the construction of the golden calf. Moses returns from his journey and is shocked to see that the Israelites had betrayed him.

The most interesting part of this story to me is how quickly the Israelites lost hope that Moses would return. After Moses led them out of slavery from Egypt, the Israelites lose faith in him after only 40 days. Throughout the Torah, the Israelites seem to always be relying on their leader, and once that leader is gone it’s as if they don’t know how to stand on their own two feet. Another fascinating detail to me was that when Moses returned to the camp with the first tablets and saw the Israelites parading and celebrating around the Golden Calf, he immediately assumed that the Israelites had forced Aaron to participate in their plan. Moses doesn’t trust many people in the Torah, but it’s clear from Moses’ words that he trusts Aaron and is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Therefore he decides to give Aaron and the Israelites a second chance.

We learn from this Torah portion that we all need second chances. There are times we fail, mess up, follow the crowd or have a momentary lapse in judgment (like Aaron). There will also be times when we give in to fears and anxieties like the Israelites did. I hope that, like Moses and God, we can all be generous enough to forgive, trust and always see the potential in others.

Noa Rone is a seventh-grade student at Krieger Schechter Day School.

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