Be a Jew Through and Through

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  1. David Bildner says:

    The comparison of the Jew to the tablets is intriguing. Another aspect of this comparison that can be developed in various directions is the fact that the miraculous “through and through” tablets that were provided through Divine miracle, the ones discussed by Dr. Levine, were shattered by Moses when he returned to the Israelite emcampment and saw that the Jews were not yet ready to live up to them. The replacement tablets prepared by Moses were one-sided, produced by (and for?) human abilities. Those are the ones that were actually “used” by the Jews. However, the original Divinely-produced tablets were placed in the ark in the center of the Israelite encampment. Perhaps this is a reminder to the Jews to aspire to the “through and through” status of the original tablets and Dr. Levine’s comparison.

  2. micha says:

    The tail end of the hashkafic portion of the introduction to Shaarei Yosher also compares self refinement to carving the luchos. Rav Shimon Shkop suggests that the reason why Moshe had to discard the first luchos, which were carved by Hashem, in favor of luchos that he was commanded “pesal lekha” — to carve for himself.

    He writes (tr. mine):

    The beginning of the receiving of the Torah through Moses was a symbol and sign for all of the Jewish people who receive the Torah [since]. Just as Hashem told Moses, “Carve for yourself two stone Tablets”, so too it is advice for all who receive the Torah. Each must prepare Tablets for himself, to write upon them the word of Hashem. According to his readiness in preparing the Tablets, so will be his ability to receive. If in the beginning or even any time after that his Tablets are ruined, then his Torah will not remain. This removes much of Moses’ fear, because according to the value and greatness of the person in Awe/Fear of Hashem and in middos, which are the Tablet of his heart, this will be the measure by which heaven will give him acquisition of Torah. And if he falls from his level, by that amount he will forget his Torah, just as our sages said of a number of things that cause Torah to be forgotten. About this great concept our sages told us to explain the text at the conclusion of the Torah, “and all the great Awe Inspiring acts which Moses wrought before the eyes of all of Israel.” 27

    To my mind this can be connected to what our sages explained in Nedarim (folio 38) on the verse “carve for yourself”. Moses didn’t get rich except through the extras of the Tablets. 28 This is an amazing idea – [is it possible that] Hashem couldn’t find any way to make Moses wealthy except through the extras of the Tablets? But through what we said, we can explain this. Through this change of how Tablets are to be readied, there was given opportunity for those who receive the Torah to fear, to accept upon themselves the yoke of Torah. Through this it becomes appropriate for anyone entering the gates of Torah to separate themselves from all the preoccupations of his world. As they interpret the verse “‘it is not on the other side of the sea’ 29 it is not found at salesman or importers.” 30 However, if the first Tablets had remained, then it would be sufficient to establish an easy hour for Torah, and spend most of your time trading and buying. For this reason the Holy One showed Moses as a sign to all who accept the Torah that He would prepare for them their income through the making of the Tablet; any “extras that are carved away” will provide them with income.

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