According to pshat, the simple understanding of this week’s Torah portion, it seems that Aaron is willfully cooperating with the erev rav, the riff-raff tagalongs that left Egypt with the Israelites, in making the Golden Calf. Doesn’t Aaron know that he must sacrifice his life rather than cooperate with idolatry? Why doesn’t he resist?
I heard a beautiful answer to the above question from Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto shlit’a from Ashdod. He cites the Zohar which explains that the erev rav surrounded Aaron and gave him one of two choices: either he bring them into the camp of Israel (for up to now, they were only allowed to encamp outside of the Israelite encampment), or else make them their own god which they could worship. Aaron knew that if he integrated the erev rav into the people of Israel, it would be the beginning of the Jewish people’s destruction, Heaven forbid. So to save the Jewish People, he made them their Golden Calf and kept them outside the Israelite encampment. As such, the Golden Calf was the lesser of two evils, leaving Aaron no choice. He had to do what he did.
Aaron knew how the influence of a detrimental partner can bring a person totally down. We therefore must be extremely cautious about whoever we partner with in life. Rashi says that the crow and the starling hang around together because they are essentially one of a kind.
May we all merit upright partners in life, whether in marriage, in business, or anywhere else. Have a wonderful Shabbat!