Today’s Chumash is extra long! It has the WHOLE story of the Cheit Ha’eigel. In shul on Shabbos, a Kohen gets the first aliyah, a Levi gets the second aliyah, and a Yisroel gets the third aliyah. That means that this aliyah goes to a Levi. Since Shevet Levi wasn’t part of the Cheit Ha’eigel, it isn’t embarrassing for a Levi to be called up for this aliyah. But it COULD be embarrassing for a Yisroel to be called up to this aliyah, since the other Shevatim were involved in this aveira.
We go back to what happened at the end of Moshe’s 40 days on Har Sinai:
When Hashem finished teaching Moshe the mitzvos we learned in Parshas Mishpatim, Hashem gave Moshe two luchos: They were square shaped — 6 tefachim tall and 6 tefachim wide — and 3 tefachim thick. Five of the Aseres Hadibros were carved on one of the Luchos, and the other five were carved on the other one of the Luchos. The letters were all engraved with a neis: The letters were engraved straight through the Luchos, but the letters looked the same on both sides! Also, even though some letters have a piece in the middle (like Samach and Shloss Mem) none of those pieces from the letters fell out!
Meanwhile, down at the bottom of Har Sinai, the Yidden made a very big mistake. They were counting the days until Moshe Rabbeinu would come back, and they thought (just like with a bris milah where we count the first day and the last day as part of the 8 days), that the 40 days that Moshe would be on Har Sinai also started on the day Moshe went up on Har Sinai. But really, Moshe meant 40 FULL days. So when they finished counting what they thought were 40 days, and Moshe hadn’t come back yet, they thought that Moshe wasn’t going to come back at all. Really, though, it wasn’t time for Moshe to come down yet!
The Satan also tricked the Yidden by showing them something that looked like Moshe passed away!
The Yidden believed the Satan, and now they thought they need to get someone else to show them what Hashem wants. They thought that maybe Hashem would agree to talk to them through something made of gold, like the Keruvim on the Aron. They thought that if Aharon would make a gold statue, Hashem would talk to them through it. (They didn’t know yet that it is asur to make something like the Keruvim. Hashem already told this to Moshe, but Moshe didn’t have a chance to teach this to the Yidden yet.)
Aharon didn’t think it was a good idea, so he told them to go get gold rings from their wives and children. He thought that the women and kids wouldn’t want to give away their jewelry, and this way he could push it off until later. But instead, the men took their OWN gold jewelry and brought it to Aharon.
Aharon wrapped up the gold and threw it into a fire. Then some tumah magicians from the Eirev Rav (the group of goyim who joined the Yidden when they left Mitzrayim) made some magic and a live calf (baby cow) made of gold (Eigel Hazahav) came out of the fire! The Eirev Rav said, “This is Hashem who took you out of Mitzrayim!” Even though the Yidden just wanted something to LEAD them instead of Moshe, the Eirev Rav decided to treat it as an Avodah Zarah. Some of the Yidden got excited and started to do Avodah Zarah with the Eirev Rav.
Aharon wanted to stop them, but since he saw that they killed Miriam’s son Chur when he told them it was asur, he realized he wouldn’t be able to stop them by speaking to them. Aharon thought he could find another way to make them wait, so he said he would build a Mizbeiach. He built it himself, very slowly, so there would be enough time for Moshe to come down before then.
But the Satan woke the Yidden up very early the next morning. It was the morning of Shiva Asar B’Tamuz. They brought korbanos to the Eigel, and did many aveiros.
Hashem told Moshe to go down the mountain, since the Eirev Rav got some of the Yidden to do aveiros. Because the Yidden are at a lower madreigah in kedusha, Moshe has to go down too.
Hashem told Moshe that the Yidden keep not trusting Hashem, so He will just destroy the Yidden and make Moshe’s children into a new nation.
Moshe begged Hashem not to do that! He davened to Hashem to forgive the Yidden. Hashem agreed that only the Yidden who actually did the Avodah Zarah would die right away.
Now Moshe went down from Har Sinai, carrying the Luchos. Yehoshua had been waiting for Moshe, and they went down together. When Yehoshua heard the noise coming from the Yidden, he said, “It sounds like they are fighting!” “No,” said Moshe, “it is a very sad sound — a sound of aveiros.”
When Moshe saw the Yidden dancing around the Eigel, he decided to break the Luchos so the Yidden couldn’t get punished for not keeping the Aseres Hadibros. He threw the Luchos, and they broke into pieces on the ground.
The Yidden stopped the Avodah Zarah, and Moshe took everyone who was part of it to Beis Din. Moshe asked that people who didn’t do the Avodah Zarah help him, and Shevet Levi came. They helped Moshe to punish the people who deserved it. Three thousand people were punished for their aveiros.
Now Moshe told Shevet Levi that the bechor of a family won’t do the Avodah anymore. Instead, the kohanim from Shevet Levi will.
The next day, Moshe went back up onto Har Sinai to ask Hashem to forgive the Yidden.
Moshe said, “if You forgive the Yidden that is good! But if not, please erase my name from the Torah!” Hashem said that He would erase the names of the Resha’im from the Torah, not Moshe’s name!
Hashem made anyone who was seen doing Avodah Zarah, but was not able to be punished by the Beis Din, get sick and they died.
Moshe stayed on Har Sinai for another 40 days, and didn’t eat or drink anything the whole time.
Hashem told Moshe to take the rest of the Yidden to Eretz Yisroel, but a malach would come with them. The Yidden aren’t able to have Hashem’s Presence with them anymore the way it was before.
When Moshe saw that Hashem wasn’t so close to the Yidden anymore, Moshe decided to put his tent at the very end of the Yidden’s camp.
Moshe called his tent the “Ohel Moed” — the “meeting” tent, because that’s where you could “meet” Hashem the best, near a tzadik.
All of the Yidden would watch Moshe go to his tent, and saw how Hashem’s cloud went down onto the tent. They would bow because they knew that Moshe was talking to Hashem!
Hashem would speak to Moshe “face to face” — like a person talks to his friend. Then Moshe would go and teach the Yidden what Hashem told him.
The Torah tells us that during the whole time, Yehoshua never went away from Moshe’s tent!