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Showing posts from March, 2009

Smashing the Tablets

One of the most shocking images in the Torah happens after the Israelites fashion the golden calf: the Israelites are dancing joyously celebrating their new god of gold. Moses comes down the mountain, sees the dancing, ‘vayichar af Moshe,’ and Moses was enraged, ‘vayashleich miyado et haluchot’ and he hurled the tablets, ‘vayishaber otam tachat hahar’ and he smashed them at the foot of the mountain. It’s stunning on every level: it’s the shattering of the most sacred of objects, the Ten Commandments. It’s the sight of the worst kind of idolatry. It’s an image of humanity totally failing to live up to its potential. And frankly, a question we can ask is, ‘What was Moses thinking?!’ When you think about it, it’s real chutzpah to take the tablets of the ten commandments, written with the very ‘finger’ of God, and smash them. Where did he get permission to do that? Isn’t that act blasphemous in and of itself?
And of course, our ancient sages have wondered the same thing. What did Moses hop…