Aharon saw things were going from bad to worse. He witnessed the brutal killing of his nephew, Chur, and also noticed how confused Bnei Yisrael were. Some were ready to worship the Golden Calf right then and there. Others hoped that HaShem’s presence would rest upon it and protect and guide them. Everyone was in turmoil.
“Well… hmm… let me think… hmm,” said Aharon aloud, while he frantically tried to stall for time. ”I know what we need! An altar. Yes, an altar to offer sacrifices to the new idol. And tomorrow, we will proclaim a grand festival for G-d Almighty.”
“Wow!” thought the idol worshippers. “Even the great Aharon is calling our Golden Calf ‘G-d Almighty’!”
But this was not the case… Aharon needed to “buy” just a few more hours. He was hoping and praying that Moshe would come down by the next morning, the 17th of Tammuz. Then they really could have a Simchas Torah – a joyful celebration with HaShem and His Torah – and put this entire, awful idol episode behind them.
“Come on!” they proclaimed enthusiastically. “Let’s get started building this altar! If we each grab a stone or two, we’ll build it in no time!”
“Oh no. I’d rather build it myself,” said Aharon.
“What’s the big deal? Let us all help… it’ll go much faster!”
“No. Out of the question. I am the highest ranking Kohen around, and I am the one who deserves to build this wonderful altar,” Aharon replied.
Aharon began to gather stones for the altar. He was in no hurry. He dragged his feet and he twiddled his thumbs. He took breaks to drink water and shake the sand out of his sandals.
One by one, sloooowly but surely, Aharon carefully piled one stone on top of another. Meanwhile, everyone else was losing their patience.
“Nu? Can’t you hustle a little? We don’t have all day!” they shouted.
“If you were moving any slower, you’d be going backwards!”
“Yeah! Let’s get on with the program!”