The Heights of Repentance
וַיַּעֲלוּ עֹלֹת וַיַּגִּשׁוּ שְׁלָמִים וגו': (שמות לב:ו)
They sacrificed [to the calf]. Exodus 32:6
How could the people who witnessed G‑d’s miracles and
experienced His revelation at Mount Sinai commit
such a blatant transgression so soon afterward?
True, only a small percentage of the people worshipped the Calf,
but even this is hard to imagine.
The sages of the Talmud therefore teach us that indeed,
the Jews at that point were incapable of sinning.
In order to enable the people to rise to the heights
of spiritual achievement only attainable through repentance,
G‑d “forced” the entire incident upon them.
In this light, we can all focus on our past misdeeds
as opportunities through which we can scale
spiritual heights that we could not rise to otherwise.1