Anger and fear are powerful emotions in Parashat Ki Tissa. The Israelites grow impatient when Moshe is on Mt. Sinai with God. Under Aaron's direction, they create the infamous golden calf. Their fears of abandonment and the unknown propel them to turn away from God. God is justifiably angry and says to Moses (Exodus 32:10) "Now, let Me be alone, that My anger may blaze forth against them and that I may destroy them, and make of you a great nation." God tells Moshe what is going on with the Israelites and shares God's anger with him. Moses, acting quickly and as an effective and compassion leader carefully responds to God, (Exodus 32:11-13) "Let not your anger . . . blaze forth against Your people, whom You delivered from the land of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand... turn from your blazing wrath and renounce the plan to punish your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Israel." Moses is also angry with the people, but in this moment he listens to God and is thoughtful in his response.
The medieval scholar Rashi comments on Exodus 32:10, "by saying 'let Me alone' God opened the door to Moses, intimating that if Moses prayed for them, God would not destroy them." I learn from this section and Rashi's commentary that sometimes we need a soundboard and a partner particularly when we are angry. Prayer can serve in this way at times. It is a good reminder for us that sometimes we need to take step back and ask ourselves are we acting out of fear or anger? Speaking to someone we trust can help us to see a situation from a new angle. Let's pay attention to our own feelings this Shabbat and listen for strong emotions from others in our lives.