Parshas Ki Sisa
Let Us Not Break Those Too!
By Rabbi Label Lam
The Children of Israel shall keep the Shabbos, to make the Shabbos an
eternal covenant for their generations. (Shemos 31:16)
And the tablets were G-d's work, and the inscription was G-d's
inscription, engraved on the tablets. (Shemos 32:16)
.... "were G-d’s work": This is to be interpreted according to its apparent meaning, that He personally made them. – Rashi
Why is it that in the middle of the narrative of the events about Moshe’s
reaction to the Golden Calf, we suddenly privy, almost parenthetically, to
an appraisal and provenance of the Sacred Tablets? Why here and now?
Ron called me in the height of his frustration. I had a good rapport with
him and he felt I would be able to understand his side also. It seemed to
him like it was the worst thing that had ever happened. His wife, over time,
had become Shomer Shabbos, and he was living with a virtual Rebbetzin. Short
of checking his Mezuzos he was looking for a solution to his dilemma. So he
called me and I heard about what had happened most recently to set him off.
It’s not enough that all the light switches are covered and taped and the TV
remote is disappeared, but Friday in the middle of the night, he hears a
shriek. He told that he came running downstairs expecting to find a dead
body. What had happened?
Their college age daughter was home with a friend and to explore deeper in
the fridge they turned the bulb back on and left it that way. When Mom came
down to get a drink, she was alarmed to see the light turn on and was now
unable to close it lest she turn the light off. Her surprised reaction
produced that shriek. “Is that normal!?” he complained. Of course I
empathized and all that good stuff before trying to put his wife’s reaction
into some meaningful context that he too could appreciate. “Ron, how much is
the Mona Lisa worth? Billions if not priceless, right!? Now imagine that
this rare painting is being hosted in your house for a short period of time.
How would you react if while you were sitting in your living room admiring
its beauty your daughter would approach that delicate work of art and, not
knowing its true value, suddenly reach to touch it with hands made greasy
from fried chicken. What would your immediate reaction be? Shriek! Right!?”
Now Shabbos is even more precious and priceless than the Mona Lisa. It was
blessed by G-d from the very beginning of creation. It comes to our house
once a week, by invite, and we host it for slightly more than 24 hours. We
are commanded to keep it and so we have successfully for many thousands of
years. I explained to him, “Your wife has come to appreciate this over the
years and even if you don’t yet, it is important to her that you respect her
value of this priceless entity.”
Now the Tablets too were probably the most valuable object ever in human
history. If I would draw a painting of a woman half smiling it might not be
worth the paper it is scribbled on. If Van Gogh or De Vinci did the same it
would be priceless. What if the greatest artist, G-d Himself, created it and
signed it? The Torah authenticates here, that that’s what Moshe broke in
order to sober the people intoxicated with the Golden Calf. That would be
worthy of a shriek. Measure the loss. We can never estimate the extent of
The consolation is that inscribed on those Holy Stones were words and ideals
that live with us today like knowing HASHEM and keeping Shabbos holy. Let
us not break those too!
DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.