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The Golden Rule, the Golden Mean, and the Golden Calf
©2009 Stan Tenen

If the Hebrew  עברית below displays incorrectly, click here for a PDF version of this essay

In Hebrew, "Golden Calf" is Egel HaZahav: Ayin-Gimel-Lamed עגל He-Zayin-He-Bet  הזהב.

Ahava: Alef-He-Bet-He  אהבה is the root for love in the sense of friendship and affection.

The word Egel means not only calf, but also circle or round. Ayin ע itself is also a circle, an eye, and a wellspring. Gimel-Lamed  גל is also the root for circle.

There's a special quality to gold which is not generally known. At the molecular level, gold is drawn to itself. It's homophilic. The essence of gold, the metal, is "self-love".

Emergent qualities, including the miracles in Torah, require Great Assemblies (or assemblies of spiritually great people). Moshe was only able to get to the top of Sinai, where Torah emerged, because of the integrity of the Hebrew/Israelite community/camp that surrounded him.

When Moshe came down, he expected to find a minyan of people who loved each other (as opposed to loving themselves), and who were upright and thus also loved God and looked to (were in awe of) the Lord.

This would have been a Great Minyan, a Great Assembly, a Great Knesset (Kaf-Nun-Samek-Tav  כנסת) of loving individuals fit to carry and maintain the emergent miracle, Nes (Nun-Samek  נס) of Torah. The "burning bush", Sneh (Samek-Nun-He  סנה) uses the same root letters as Nes  נס miracle.

What Moshe found was a mistake. Instead of waiting patiently for Torah "on one foot", in the light of the Golden Rule, the people looked instead to the Golden Calf. Instead of Ahavah  אהבה, they looked to HaZahav  הזהב. Instead of gathering themselves into a "minyan of spiritual gold", they assembled and melted their jewelry, and watched the gold gather itself into a lifeless metallic pool – Egel, Ayin-Gimel-Lamed  עגל – called the Golden Calf.

Instead of looking up to Hashem – the (metaphoric) Golden Transcendent "Sun"* – and thus receiving the Shefa Tal, which allows for free will and choice and thus breaks the wheel of karma, they slid back onto the wheel of karma on the earth-plane, in the shadow of Pharaoh who did not know Hashem.

Gold, when it applies to our spiritual achievements, is desirable, and this gold leads us to love Ahavah  אהבה of each other and to love of God.

Gold, when it applies to the mechanical world, binds us to the wheel of karma by its exclusive self-love – its narcissism.

The Golden Rule tells us not only that "what goes around comes around", but also that "what is above can be what is below". Without apprehension of the Hashem-Elokim axis that provides novelty, we are forced to circle ourselves endlessly in our own self-image, unable to break the wheel of karma or learn from history. The geometric metaphor for this narcissism is carried by the logarithmic spirals, and in particular by the so-called golden spirals and/or Fibonacci golden pseudo-spirals, which form the dead trace of history confined to the wheel of endlessly repetitive karma. This is Egypt, Mitzraim  מצרים , constriction, i.e., flatness confined to the earth-plane. It is a realm without Hashem, so it lacks the Shefa Tal and thus lacks free will and volition. A person in such a situation is bound and helpless, and unable to escape. The word Shin-Tet-NunSofit  שטן is "the expression of being bound forever." This is the meaning of SaTaN, the narcissist, the exact opposite of what it takes to form a minyan.

We do not live in a flat world (Egypt), limited and bound to the law of karma. We live in a world where it is our job to unify Hashem (the "Sun") and Elokim (the "Shield"), as we proclaim in the Sh'ma, in this full, thick, 3-D and 4-D reality of opportunity limited only by our imagination and the extent of our loving-kindness.

* "Hashem-Elokim is a sun and a shield" (Ps. 84:11); thus, Hashem is like a Transcendent Sun.

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