I vividly remember the first time I encountered Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors.I couldn’t have been more than 15 or 16, and I remember it dawning on me that this tale of missed connections and relationships-gone-wrong struck me as both funny and poignantly possible in real life. To this day, Comedy of Errors comes to my mind in these one-in-a-million chance moments of encounter, or missed encounter. (It also helps me to let things slide, a bit, and laugh off certain frustrations when possible.)
This week’s Torah portion, Ki Tisa, could be read as a comedy of errors (if it weren’t quite so tragic). After his intense and detail-oriented time on Mt. Sinai with God, Moses descends to find the Israelites all in a frenzy worshipping a Golden Calf. Perhaps you’re familiar with the story: the Israelites panicked at Moses’ absence, begged Aaron to make them something to which they could direct their frightened religious energy, et voila – Golden Calf. Perhaps you also are familiar with the bloody retribution that follows (the sheer death count being the part that makes this a tale of tragedy rather than comedy). It is a tale of missed encounter and of good-intentions-gone-wrong, but it ultimately ends with a moment of meeting between Moses and God – a climactic and famous Happy Ending to this sordid tale.
– Rabbi Callie Schulman