Many of these rebellious Jews gathered around Aharon.
“Make for us an idol! Now!” they demanded. “Get this straight, your brother is not coming back!”
Of course, this put Aharon in quite a tough spot. Saying no seemed like the right thing to do, but it was also dangerous. “Who knows?” Aharon thought. “They just killed Chur and they may murder me too. And if I am gone, G-d forbid, this Golden Calf would be made very quickly, with no one to stop them.”
After thinking it over, Aharon decided that he had no choice but to make it seem as though he was cooperating.
“I must stall for time. I only need a few hours.” Aharon thought. “I’ll follow their requests, but sloooowly – very slooooowly… and no doubt about it, meanwhile my brother Moshe will come down from the mountain with the two tablets.”
Aharon came up with an idea. He responded to them, “All right. Now listen up. In order to make the idol, I’ll need gold – and lots of it. Go to your wives and tell them that you need their golden jewelry. We’ll melt down the jewelry and you’ll have plenty of gold for your idol.”
“This will buy me some more time.” Aharon thought. “Hopefully, they’ll stay home a bit for dinner and tend to a few errands.”
Although it didn’t buy enough time, still Aharon was in for a pleasant surprise. The women immediately responded to their husband’s requests, “Out of the question! We won’t have any part in this ridiculous scheme! Outta here!”
“If that is the case,” yelled the desperate men. “Here’s our own gold earrings for the Golden Calf! Melt these down, Aharon!” (BTW, in those days, it was quite common for men to we ar earrings.) The men proceeded to fill up basket after basket with thousands of golden earrings, and in record time they had plenty of gold to make their Golden Calf.
When gold is mined from the ground, it contains all kinds of impurities. It takes a lot to purify it, including a hot blast from a furnace at 2,063° Fahrenheit. (Boy, is that hot! Hotter than you can imagine!) This process called smelting, costs about $35,000 to process just one bar of gold!
Here are some more interesting nuggets of information:
And do you know why HaShem created this amazing substance?
So that we could use it – and other beautiful things – to create a special home for Him, the Beis HaMikdash.
In the words of our Sages, לא נברא הזהב אלא לבנין בית המקדש – “The sole purpose of gold is for the Beis HaMikdash.”
Besides for the righteous women, the entire tribe of Levi and many Jews from other tribes also refused to donate gold.