Answer: The golden calf symbolizes the immense egoistic desire the children of Israel came out of Egypt with, rose above temporarily, until they suddenly fell into it and began to build the golden calf out of their desires for wealth and for using others.
In other words, the golden calf symbolizes the mutual desire for bourgeois development that humanity sees as a goal, as a substitute for Godliness.
The more we advance toward the attribute of love and unity, the greater the danger of falling into the desire of the golden calf, every step of the way.
Therefore, there is a method of integral unity according to the wisdom of Kabbalah that enables us to ascend above this growing desire, since this is how we develop.
From the Kabbalah Lesson in Russian 4/3/16