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On Having and Being – Parshat Ki Tisa 5774

To download a printable PDF version click here: Parshat Ki Tisa- To Have and To be

To Have and To Be

The scene is shocking, almost incomprehensible. Just days after the people have witnessed one of the greatest epiphanies of all time, they are creating a Golden calf which they proceed to bow down and sacrifice to.  God sees what is happening, Moshe descends and upon seeing the scene,  smashes the Luchot, hence shattering the covenant of Sinai.  The perpetrators are killed by the Levites and the people are forced to drink the ashes of the Golden Calf and remove their jewellery.  God removes himself from amongst the people, and eventually the Mishkan is built, seemingly as a rectification for the sin of the calf.

It is a tragic story, the downfall of a nation – God’s chosen nation.  How could this have happened? How does a people move in such a short period of time from direct revelation to worshipping a molten image?  How can Aaron’s behaviour be justified? What was the significance of drinking the ashes of the calf and removing their jewellery?

We sit comfortably  in our beit knesset reading the Parsha, smugly criticising the people, safe in our belief that we are behind ‘Egel worshipping’.  But are we kidding ourselves? Are we not today, more than ever an Egel worshipping society? Do we not possess today our own Golden calves? Are not our generation, more than any before us guilty of what the ancient Israelites did in the desert?

This week I would like to look at the Parsha from a new perspective, one that requires a shift in our thinking slightly, but by doing so sheds a different light on the incident and the various stories and commands that surround it.

Erich Fromm, the renowned psychoanalysist and thinker, views our existence and experience of the world through two paradigms; the mode of ‘Having’ and the mode of ‘Being’. In the mode of ‘Having’, which he claims is characteristic of today’s society, man is convinced that the key to his happiness, self fulfilment and inner peace will come from ‘acquiring’ things; anything from material possessions to knowledge, love and comprehension of the world.  This says Fromm is a misconceived understanding of man’s essence and in the end only leads to hedonism, universal envy and greed.  The only way that man can truly achieve happiness and inner peace is through the  mode of ‘Being’.  The mode of Being is where I am not influenced by any external forces, I am true to myself, and through my absolute freedom, I seek things, be it knowledge, happiness or faith, as a means to self growth and development.  I experience the world around me as opposed to possessing it. As we have seen  in most of our discussions, to live in one extreme or the other reaps few benefits.  What is required is to achieve a balance.  To understand that ‘possessing’, is only one element of being human and that relationships, both those between humans and those between  God and Man, cannot achieve their potential through the mode of  having.  For if I relate to you only as an object to be had, or as a means to an end, there will never be room for growth, mutual respect and partnership.

I worry for my children and the young generation.  With all the good that the internet and social media have created, there has also been a renewed emphasis on the very type of existence Fromm was warning us about.  Today teenagers will define their self worth by how many friends they ‘have’ on Facebook, how many people ‘liked’ their status post, how many followers they have on twitter and how many things they ‘own’.  The danger is that without careful guidance the ‘Having’ will become so overwhelming and become something we worship absolutely; there will not even be an awareness of another mode of being, less a space for defining oneself through it.

Redefining the relationship – from ownership to a shared space

To return to our Parsha, the Israelite nation have just left Egypt.  For 210 years they have been slaves, they have been objects, possessed by their owners. Egypt was the quintessential ‘having’ society. The more the pharaoh built, the more powerful he became.  The more slaves he ‘owned’ and the more he acquired, the greater Egypt became through him.  The worship of Egyptian God’s was dependent on ‘giving’ material possessions to ‘pacify’ them.  Definition of self was derived from what I have – something physical to cleave to.  A people moving from slavery to freedom must repossess themselves, learn a new language to communicate with their reality, adopt a new inner narrative.  They have to be taught that possession and ownership do not define relationships. But yet understandably so they are dependents; dependent on God, their leader, their gold, they know no other means of relating to existence.  It is no surprise therefore, that as soon as the ‘physical’ leader, disappears up the mountain, the people cannot tolerate existence anymore.  They must ‘have’ something  tangible, not just to worship, but in order to exist.[1]  By giving the jewellery and gold they took from Egypt, the people genuinely believed they were worshipping in the optimum mode.  Aaron, also having been exposed to Egyptian culture, is coming from the same place.  Unlike Moshe who had been initiated to this new paradigm of existence at the burning bush (God’s words to Moshe אהיה אשר אהיה – I will ‘be’ what I will ‘be’), Aaron is unfamiliar with God’s plan and His educational scheme  for the people.[2]  Aaron understands, even empathises with the wish of the people to find a new means of worshipping God.  Using the resources available, he builds what he believes  to be a legitimate ‘representation’ of God.  What he did not anticipate, was that the people’s initial good will would lead to an uncontrollable frenzy, that would eventually lapse into idol worship.

Playing the harlot – an image of ‘Having’

The rabbi’s in Gemara Shabbat 88b, discuss a verse from the Song of Songs, where the wife plays the harlot under her wedding canopy.  They parallel this to the People of Israel who created the Golden Calf at the foot of Sinai.  The people ‘drinking the ashes’[3] of the Calf is analogous to the אישה סוטה – the women accused of adultery, who is forced to drink bitter water to prove that she had not been unfaithful.[4]  The theme of the unfaithful wife is seen most poignantly in the prophecy of Hoshea.[5]  Hoshea is given the difficult task by God, of having to literally act out the prophecy by marrying a harlot and having children with her.  He then must endure the pain of watching her be with other men, before realising they have nothing she wants, and ultimately  returning to Hoshea.  Eventually he takes her to the wilderness in order to teach her what is it to be husband and wife in the ideal sense.  I would like to share some of imagery we find in this book:

Hoshea 2:

ז כִּי זָנְתָה אִמָּם, הֹבִישָׁה הוֹרָתָם:  כִּי אָמְרָה, אֵלְכָה אַחֲרֵי מְאַהֲבַי נֹתְנֵי לַחְמִי וּמֵימַי, צַמְרִי וּפִשְׁתִּי, שַׁמְנִי וְשִׁקּוּיָי.  ח לָכֵן הִנְנִי-שָׂךְ אֶת-דַּרְכֵּךְ, בַּסִּירִים; וְגָדַרְתִּי אֶת-גְּדֵרָהּ, וּנְתִיבוֹתֶיהָ לֹא תִמְצָא.  ט וְרִדְּפָה אֶת-מְאַהֲבֶיהָ וְלֹא-תַשִּׂיג אֹתָם, וּבִקְשָׁתַם וְלֹא תִמְצָא; וְאָמְרָה, אֵלְכָה וְאָשׁוּבָה אֶל-אִישִׁי הָרִאשׁוֹן–כִּי טוֹב לִי אָז, מֵעָתָּה.  י וְהִיא, לֹא יָדְעָה, כִּי אָנֹכִי נָתַתִּי לָהּ, הַדָּגָן וְהַתִּירוֹשׁ וְהַיִּצְהָר; וְכֶסֶף הִרְבֵּיתִי לָהּ וְזָהָב, עָשׂוּ לַבָּעַל.

טז לָכֵן, הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי מְפַתֶּיהָ, וְהֹלַכְתִּיהָ, הַמִּדְבָּר; וְדִבַּרְתִּי, עַל-לִבָּהּ. יז וְנָתַתִּי לָהּ אֶת-כְּרָמֶיהָ מִשָּׁם, וְאֶת-עֵמֶק עָכוֹר לְפֶתַח תִּקְוָה; וְעָנְתָה שָּׁמָּה כִּימֵי נְעוּרֶיהָ, וּכְיוֹם עֲלוֹתָהּ מֵאֶרֶץ-מִצְרָיִם.  יח וְהָיָה בַיּוֹם-הַהוּא נְאֻם-יְהוָה, תִּקְרְאִי אִישִׁי; וְלֹא-תִקְרְאִי-לִי עוֹד, בַּעְלִי.  יט וַהֲסִרֹתִי אֶת-שְׁמוֹת הַבְּעָלִים, מִפִּיהָ; וְלֹא-יִזָּכְרוּ עוֹד, בִּשְׁמָם.  כ וְכָרַתִּי לָהֶם בְּרִית, בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא, עִם-חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה וְעִם-עוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם, וְרֶמֶשׂ הָאֲדָמָה; וְקֶשֶׁת וְחֶרֶב וּמִלְחָמָה אֶשְׁבּוֹר מִן-הָאָרֶץ, וְהִשְׁכַּבְתִּים לָבֶטַח.  כא וְאֵרַשְׂתִּיךְ לִי, לְעוֹלָם; וְאֵרַשְׂתִּיךְ לִי בְּצֶדֶק וּבְמִשְׁפָּט, וּבְחֶסֶד וּבְרַחֲמִים.  כב וְאֵרַשְׂתִּיךְ לִי, בֶּאֱמוּנָה; וְיָדַעַתְּ, אֶת-יְהוָה.

7 For their mother hath played the harlot, she that conceived them hath done shamefully; for she said: ‘I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.‘ 8 Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and I will make a wall against her, that she shall not find her paths. 9 And she shall run after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them, and she shall seek them, but shall not find them; then shall she say: ‘I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now.’ 10 For she did not know that it was I that gave her the corn, and the wine, and the oil, and multiplied unto her silver and gold, which they used for Baal.

16 Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly unto her. 17 And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope; and she shall respond there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt. 18 And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call Me Ishi, and shalt call Me no more Baali. 19 For I will take away the names of the Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be mentioned by their name. 20 And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground; and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the land, and will make them to lie down safely. 21 And I will betroth thee unto Me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in justice, and in lovingkindness, and in compassion. 22 And I will betroth thee unto Me in faithfulness; and thou shalt know the LORD.

The paradigm of the unfaithful wife, as seen in our Parsha and here in the book of Hoshea, is the harlot, who seeks to attain material possessions from her other lovers.  Relationship for her are based on what can be ‘gained’ from the other.[6]  It is a matter of ‘having’ and ‘possessing’ the other, rather than allowing for growth, self being, dignity and equality of the other.  The wife returns to Hoshea since she cannot get what she wants anymore from her other בעלים – husbands or in literal language – owners.[7]  Hoshea refuses to give her the material possessions she seeks, and instead endeavours to teach her what a relationship should ideally possess – unconditional love, respect, compassion and loving-kindness.  He takes her to the wilderness, the place devoid of possessions, ownership or consumerism.  An unconditional existence.  It is there he forces her to face her inner self and recognise that any authentic relationship cannot be based on ‘owning the other ‘, but rather on simply existing in a mutual mode of ‘being’ with the other.  There through Hoshea’s prophecy God tells us His people ‘ וְהָיָה בַיּוֹם-הַהוּא נְאֻם-יְהוָה, תִּקְרְאִי אִישִׁי; וְלֹא-תִקְרְאִי-לִי עוֹד, בַּעְלִי. – Call me your husband/eqaul partner do not call me anymore ‘your possessor ‘.[8] Through Hoshea prophecy God illustrates to the people the foundation of their relationship.  He is not to be treated like the God’s of the pagan or Egyptian cultures, to be manipulated for the good of man or to be treated as a means to an end.  A true relationship requires seeing the other as an end in and of themselves.  Fromm elucidates this idea eloquently:

To love is a productive activity.  It implies caring for, knowing, responding, affirming, enjoying:  The person, the tree, the painting, the idea.  It means bringing to life, increasing his/her/its aliveness.  It is a process, self renewal and self-increasing.  When love is experienced in the mode of having it implies confining, imprisoning, or controlling the object one ‘loves’.  It is strangling, deadening, suffocating, killing, not life-giving.[9]

It is very hard today, in a world dominated by materialism, possessions, consumerism and success being defined through how much I ‘have’,  to ignore the message of the Golden Calf.   The Golden Calf was the result of a people deeply influenced by the ancient world of ‘having’, trying to define God and their relationship to Him through power, control, a physical ownership or possession.

The results of the Calf: stiff neck, removing jewellery and drinking ashes

There are several consequences which result directly from the Egel.  First God calls them a stiff necked people refusing to forgive them and destroying the main culprits.  Second, Moshe breaks the Tablets.  Third the people must drink the ashes of the Calf.  Fourth they must remove their jewellery.  Finally they must hear a list of commands before being given a new set of Tablets.  Each of these results are going to be significant in our understanding of the event.  The following verse describes God’s reaction to the peoples sin and then Moshe’s:

Exodus 32:

ז וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה:  לֶךְ-רֵד–כִּי שִׁחֵת עַמְּךָ, אֲשֶׁר הֶעֱלֵיתָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם.  ח סָרוּ מַהֵר, מִן-הַדֶּרֶךְ אֲשֶׁר צִוִּיתִם–עָשׂוּ לָהֶם, עֵגֶל מַסֵּכָה; וַיִּשְׁתַּחֲווּ-לוֹ, וַיִּזְבְּחוּ-לוֹ, וַיֹּאמְרוּ, אֵלֶּה אֱלֹהֶיךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר הֶעֱלוּךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם.  ט וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה:  רָאִיתִי אֶת-הָעָם הַזֶּה, וְהִנֵּה עַם-קְשֵׁה-עֹרֶף הוּא. 

יט וַיְהִי, כַּאֲשֶׁר קָרַב אֶל-הַמַּחֲנֶה, וַיַּרְא אֶת-הָעֵגֶל, וּמְחֹלֹת; וַיִּחַר-אַף מֹשֶׁה, וַיַּשְׁלֵךְ מִיָּדָו אֶת-הַלֻּחֹת, וַיְשַׁבֵּר אֹתָם, תַּחַת הָהָר.  כ וַיִּקַּח אֶת-הָעֵגֶל אֲשֶׁר עָשׂוּ, וַיִּשְׂרֹף בָּאֵשׁ, וַיִּטְחַן, עַד אֲשֶׁר-דָּק; וַיִּזֶר עַל-פְּנֵי הַמַּיִם, וַיַּשְׁקְ אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.

7 And the LORD spoke unto Moses: ‘Go, get thee down; for thy people, that thou broughtest up out of the land of Egypt, have dealt corruptly; 8 they have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed unto it, and said: This is thy god, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.’ 9 And the LORD said unto Moses: ‘I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people.

19 And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing; and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and broke them beneath the mount. 20 And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it with fire, and ground it to powder, and strewed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.

God describes the people as an עם קשה ערף stiff necked people.  A people who refuse to move their heads to hear new ideas, absorb new perspectives or be open to new realities.  Fixated on the paradigms learnt from slavery, they refuse to let the Sinai experience penetrate their inner being.  The pedagogical attempt by God failed.  Even if for a moment they met God in the mode of ‘being’ at Sinai, they all too quickly regress back to the mode of ‘having’ which culminates in the creation of the Egel.[10]

Moshe descends the mountain and upon seeing what the people have done he breaks the Tablets -Luchot. By breaking the Sinaitic covenant with God he shatters the conditions of that relationship in order to make space for the creation of a new one that allows for man’s physical needs and God’s idealistic expectations.

Moshe then burns the Calf, grinds the ashes and gives it to the people to drink. (verse 20) The people must ‘consume’ the Golden Calf.  They must ‘consume’ literally that which ‘consumed’ them. They must internalise the message of the Golden Calf.  When one tries to possess God, to change him from a Divinity whose essence is ‘I will be what I will be’ to a possession that one owns, the result eventually will be idol worship that will consume only ourselves.

We then read another strange corollary to the events of the Egel.

Exodus 33:

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה, לֵךְ עֲלֵה מִזֶּה–אַתָּה וְהָעָם, אֲשֶׁר הֶעֱלִיתָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם:  אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי לְאַבְרָהָם לְיִצְחָק וּלְיַעֲקֹב לֵאמֹר, לְזַרְעֲךָ, אֶתְּנֶנָּה.  ב וְשָׁלַחְתִּי לְפָנֶיךָ, מַלְאָךְ; וְגֵרַשְׁתִּי, אֶת-הַכְּנַעֲנִי הָאֱמֹרִי, וְהַחִתִּי וְהַפְּרִזִּי, הַחִוִּי וְהַיְבוּסִי.  ג אֶל-אֶרֶץ זָבַת חָלָב, וּדְבָשׁ:  כִּי לֹא אֶעֱלֶה בְּקִרְבְּךָ, כִּי עַם-קְשֵׁה-עֹרֶף אַתָּה–פֶּן-אֲכֶלְךָ, בַּדָּרֶךְ.  ד וַיִּשְׁמַע הָעָם, אֶת-הַדָּבָר הָרָע הַזֶּה–וַיִּתְאַבָּלוּ; וְלֹא-שָׁתוּ אִישׁ עֶדְיוֹ, עָלָיו.  ה וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה, אֱמֹר אֶל-בְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל אַתֶּם עַם-קְשֵׁה-עֹרֶף–רֶגַע אֶחָד אֶעֱלֶה בְקִרְבְּךָ, וְכִלִּיתִיךָ; וְעַתָּה, הוֹרֵד עֶדְיְךָ מֵעָלֶיךָ, וְאֵדְעָה, מָה אֶעֱשֶׂה-לָּךְ.  ו וַיִּתְנַצְּלוּ בְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת-עֶדְיָם, מֵהַר חוֹרֵב.  ז וּמֹשֶׁה יִקַּח אֶת-הָאֹהֶל וְנָטָה-לוֹ מִחוּץ לַמַּחֲנֶה, הַרְחֵק מִן-הַמַּחֲנֶה, וְקָרָא לוֹ, אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד; וְהָיָה, כָּל-מְבַקֵּשׁ יְהוָה, יֵצֵא אֶל-אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד, אֲשֶׁר מִחוּץ לַמַּחֲנֶה.

1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses: ‘Depart, go up hence, thou and the people that thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land of which I swore unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying: Unto thy seed will I give it– 2 and I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite– 3 unto a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people; lest I consume thee in the way.’ 4 And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned; and no man did put on him his ornaments. 5 And the LORD said unto Moses: ‘Say unto the children of Israel: Ye are a stiffnecked people; if I go up into the midst of thee for one moment, I shall consume thee; therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee.’ 6 And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments from mount Horeb onward. 7 Now Moses used to take the tent and to pitch it without the camp, afar off from the camp; and he called it the tent of meeting. And it came to pass, that every one that sought the LORD went out unto the tent of meeting, which was without the camp. 8 And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the Tent, that all the people rose up, and stood, every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the Tent.

On hearing God tell them that He will not accompany them into the promised Land, the people mourn and do not put on their עדיו – which the majority of commentators understand to mean some kind of jewellery.[11]  They are then commanded by God to strip themselves of their עדים – jewellery.  Again the emphasis and repetition in the text is strange.  On a purely Peshat level, they refrain from adorning themselves since they are in a state of mourning.  If we follow the reading we are proposing, the stripping of the people’s gold and jewellery is a subversive message to the people of the need for purity of being.  The jewellery, the gold, the ornaments, have a time and a place.  They are needed in certain contexts and at specific moments, but they must not define who we are, and certainly cannot be used as an end in itself. To repent for the sin of the calf, the people must rid themselves of ‘possessing’, they must stand before God as they are, in the simple mode of being.

The conditions for accepting the second set of Tablets:

Immediately following this narrative and preceding the giving of the new Tablets, we have a list of seemingly misplaced commands which include the obligation to destroy any artefacts used for idol worship by the other nations when entering the land, the prohibition of molten images, redemption of the first born, the requirement of pilgrimage to the Temple three times a year and the obligation to bring the first fruits to the Priest.  Why are these laws listed here? Why do we need to hear them before we accept the new Tablets?

In the interpretation we are posing, these laws make complete sense.  Before we can engage in a new relationship with God and receive the physical manifestation of that covenant, we must be reminded of certain lessons. Destroying artefacts of idol worship that represent worship thorugh the mode of ‘having’.  We must then learn that our impulse to lay claim to the land, our fruits, even our animals and children, is not absolute.  These laws prevent man from living in a constant state of ‘possessing’, and force him to recognise, even if for a moment, the existence of an alternative reality.

Shabbat – the ultimate existence of ‘Being’

In adopting this perspective it is now easy to understand why the incident of the Golden calf is preceded and concluded with the mention of Shabbat (31:12/35:1).  Shabbat is the one day in which we live in a mode of ‘being’, we cannot acquire anything, we must not work, money is of no value or object.  We practise existing in the mode of being and not in the mode of having.  Today, in a world of extreme consumerism, it is very hard to elicit a balance between the two.  We have been led to believe that our self worth is linked to how much we ‘have’, how much we ‘do’ and how much we ‘own’.[12]  Even our worship of God has become focused on what we ‘wear’, how we ‘look’, what shul we go to and what ‘type’ of Judaism we belong to.  What God taught Moshe at the burning bush and what he wanted to instil in the Israelites through their wanderings in the wilderness, was a sense of ‘Being’ that was not tied to ‘Having’.  A relationship not based on what one is given and receives, but on mutual respect and dignity.  The Mishkan, is a midway point, a concession by God to the needs of the people.  But the message of the Mishkan is clear: God is not a being to be ‘had’, the Mishkan is not a place where man ‘possesses’, on the contrary, it is a home for God, where man and God can be as one.  In the beautiful act of Hoshea, that took his wife back to the wilderness, as God took the people to the desert, there was a profound message to be learnt:

The Desert is the key symbol in this liberation. The desert is no home; it has no cities; it has no riches; it is the place of nomads who own what they need and what they need are the necessities of life, not possessions. Historically nomadic traditions are interwoven in the report of the exodus, and it may very well be that these nomadic traditions have determined the tendency against all non-functional property and the choice of life in the desert as preparation for the life of freedom. [13]

We do not live in the desert, we are not meant to lead a nomadic existence cut off from the influences of society and culture.  However we are meant to constantly remember the wilderness experience, to return to the moment of unconditional love with God, to remember the message of a reality dominated by ‘being’, and to question ourselves everyday whether we are making space in our lives for authentic and true relationships with others and with ourselves that are not dominated by our very human instinct to possess and conquer. [14]

Shabbat Shalom


[1] In the parent -child analogy, the Golden Calf could be perceived of as a ‘transitional object’ as conceived of by Donald Winnicott in Playing and Reality.  The ‘transitional object’, is a physical object that takes the place of the mother-child bond when the moves from complete dependence to relative dependence.

[2] See my writing on Parshat Shemot at

[3] Shemot 32:20

[4] Bamidbar 5:18-24

[5] Hoshea is one of the 13 minor prophets

[6] This is reminiscent of Buber I-It relationship.  In fact Fromm models of ‘Having’ and ‘Being’ are similar in many ways to Buber’s I-It and I-Thou encounters.  An I-It encounter is where I see the other as a means to an end.  An I-Thou encounter addresses the other in his entirety and is based on the true relationship.

[7] The word ‘baal’ is also the term used to describe idol worship.

[8] There is much to be discussed on the difference between איש and בעל, suffice to say they connote entirely different paradigms of relationship between husband and wife. One based on power, the other on mutual purpose and respect.

[9] Erich Fromm: To have and to Be p39

[10] This is expressed in verse 32:8 that recalls how the people were ‘quick to turn away from the path of Hashem’ –  סָרוּ מַהֵר, מִן-הַדֶּרֶךְ אֲשֶׁר צִוִּיתִם–עָשׂוּ לָהֶם, עֵגֶל מַסֵּכָה

[11] See Rasag, Rashbam, Abarbanel on this verse

[12] For a beautiful in depth study of this and similar ideas about Shabbat see A.J.Heschel: The Sabbath

[13] Erich Fromm: To have and to be p42

[14] Once a year on the festival of Sukkot we are reminded of the wilderness experience.  We must leave our houses, our possessions, our mode of ‘having’ and go to a booth, outside and simply ‘be’.

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