We read in the Parasha this week about how the nation succumbed to their feelings of despair at the absence of Moshe, their leader, and created the golden calf.
Rabbi Shneor Zalman of Lidia in Sefer Hatanya writes, “A person’s drives are related to the degree of one’s intellect.”
For example, when children have a strong desire for things that are important to them, they become very angry and enraged if they do not get them. However, to adults this item, whether it’s a small toy or a colorful block, has no value, even though to the child it may be very important.
As we grow older and hopefully wiser, we can see that things that had at one time great importance are in retrospect no more important than that toy. At the time, it seemed so important because we didn’t have the wisdom that would come with greater maturity. In retrospect, when Moshe returned, the nation had to deal with the shame of their impetuous rebellion.
In our own lives, we are often absolutely certain that something we want is vital and we cannot survive without it, only to later change our minds. Why can we not stop and see that we are feeling precisely the way we felt in the past about something that we now think is trivial?
Although we cannot have tomorrow’s wisdom today, we can utilize our experiences of our past and learn how to confront the desires of our todays for the benefit of our tomorrows.