Breaking Tablets

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By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld

                In Shmos 34:1 Hashem tells Moshe to cut out two new tablets similar to the first ones and, “I will write on these tablets “asher shibarta” (that you broke.)” The gemara in Shabbos 87a says from the above posuk we see that Hashem was happy that Moshe broke the luchosMoshe used a kal vachomer to explain. We know that the Torah forbade a ben nechar from eating the korban Pesach. If this is so for one mitzvahkal vachomer it is for all of the Torah. All the Yidden became meshumadim with the eigel so of course they don’t deserve the luchosHashem agreed with him and said the word “asher” as  “Yasher Koach.”

The question we need to answer is how is the word asher an indicator that Hashem agreed with Moshe? Is it a fact that whenever the Torah uses the terminology of asherHashem agreed with him? The first answer we can say relates to the fact that the above posuk is next to the posuk that commands Moshe, “Vesamtam – you shall put them in the Aron.” It is proof that Hashem loved the broken luchos from the fact that Hashem told Moshe to put them in the Aron. If Hashem would not like it, Hashem would not have said put it in the aron because we have a rule that a prosecutor cannot become a defender. The second answer we can say is the fact that in the last posuk in the TorahDevarim 34, the Torah compliments Moshe for his strength. Rashi translates this to mean the strength he had to break the luchos. This shows that Hashem approved and felt that Moshe did the right thing.

Tosfos in Shabbos 87a says that the Kal Vachomer of Moshe is not really accurate. If we say a “Mumar” (apostate) is forbidden to partake in the Pesach, which is a korbanMoshe should still have let the Jews get the Torah and give them the opportunity to do teshuva. The Maharsha questions why it isn’t a different kal vachomer for us to bring down here. If someone shechts the Korban Pesach for both frum Jews and apostates, it should be good for the frum Jews.  The kal vachomer we can apply here is that since Shevet Levi did not serve the eigel they should have gotten the luchos. We could differentiate that even in the case where it was shechted for both frum Jews and apostates, at least the shechita was done to Hashem; whereas the luchos were being brought down to a nation who overall did not have the name of Hashem in their minds.

The next question that needs to be answered: how could Moshe break the luchos? It is not worse than having wood of hekdesh, which one is not allowed to burn as the Torah says one should not do these things to Hashem.

There are a couple of answers to this question. The first answer is based on Pirkei D’Reb Eliezer 45 that says the letters flew off the luchos so the luchos did not have kedusha anymore. This is similar to a Sefer Toraih that got erased which the Gemara in Shabbos 116 says has no kedushaMoshe was therefore able to break them. The Tzofnas Paneach questions this answer and says that the part of klaf that had the letters erased does not have kedusha, but the empty space above it or underneath it does have kedusha. The answer is that since the luchos were engraved in the stone and not written on, once the letters flew away there was no kedusha at all on the luchos themselves.

The second answer is based on Gemara Menachos 99b that says the bittul of Torah is the kiyum. Sometimes we need to be mevatel the Torah and do something that is totally wrong to be mekayem the TorahMoshe therefore had to break the luchos, despite it being wrong, for the upkeep of the Torah in the future.

May we be zocheh to be mekayem the Torah.

Do you have a topic or discussion you want to read about? Please send comments or questions to hymanbsdhevens@gmail.com or berachsteinfeldscorner@gmail.com

 

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