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I am committed to a life provoking the invasion of The Coming Kingdom through: human service, ecstatic prayer, halakhic observation, community building, nurturing hope, and drawing down abiding faith...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Broken Torah

It took me a while to begin to understand why God would seem to not care at all that Moshe broke the tablets. I mean, He keeps Moshe out of the land for striking a rock instead of speaking to it! My first experience with Rav Hartman (from Eretz Yisrael) began to open my heart and my mind to the layers of what happened as those tablets shattered:

1. Moshe broke the Torah with the people. Whether intentionally or not, Moshe demonstrated a profound identification with the people breaking the Torah right before his eyes. He saw them breaking into pieces before him and so he broke the Torah in front of their eyes, in front of God's.

2. The Torah needed to broken to make a way for t'shuvah. By showing that the Torah could be broken and then set right, we also learned that we could be broken and then made right.

This, of course finds its ultimate conclusion in Yeshua, through whom breaking is the prerequisite for wholeness-a process in which we are invited to participate

This year, in reading Ki Tissa I discovered yet another layer: God cares more about our relationship with Him than our relationship to the written word. Don't get me wrong, I will still kiss every holy sefer that falls to the ground...I will still fast if I witness a Torah scroll fall (chas v'shalom). Nevertheless, God had not a single word of protest at Moshe's act. He simply told Moshe to write a new one. However, the people started worshiping a calf and He was ready to call the whole thing off! God loved those made in His image more than the stone bearing the imprint of his finger alone.

I wonder if that's still true. I wonder if God would care less seeing me throw a TaNaKh into a river rather than seeing me make a god of anything other than Him. I'm humbled to admit I'm more likely to do the latter than the former (in fact I have). I pray we all let the Torah written within us be put back together when it breaks, when we break.


  1. "Let the Torah written within us be put back together when it breaks, when we break." What a wonderful, powerful, and encouraging image! Thanks for sharing in this post, Amen!

  2. Interesting take. Midrashim teach that Moshe broke the Tablets so as to reduce the punishment for which the Jewish people would be liable due to worshiping the golden calf. This makes sense, because the punishment for sin increases when one is under Torah (because then one will be judged according to Torah, per Romans 2:12).

  3. Paula, Thank you for sharing your encouragement. I'm glad for it to have been meaningful.

    Gene, Thank you for sharing yet another layer of meaning to Moshe's action!

  4. Excellent point, I would like to add that Hashem allowed his Torah to be broken in 8 different ways in Judges Ch.6 when he told Gideon to build an altar, according to Temurah 28b. Additionally, the Sages teach that Hashem allows his Torah to be broken in reference to Levirite Marriage corresponding to the laws prohibiting familial relationships.