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Torah Tuesdays with Hennie Black- Parshat Ki Tisa



tHIS WEEK’S PARSHA LOOKS AT THE LESSONS  that can be learned from the timing of what is revealed about the tablets.

when they are first received by moshe, we are only told that they were written with the “finger of g-d.” 

Only later, just before they are broken, do we learn more significant information. 


When Moshe first received the Tablets [Luchot] atop Mt. Sinai, the Torah tells us that they were written “by the finger of G-d.” It is curious that at this point there is no additional description of the Tablets. It is only later that we learn more about the Tablets in greater detail. Let’s look at the progression of events that lead to their fuller description.

After receiving the Tablets, G-d informed Moshe that the Jewish people had sinned greatly. The fledgling Jewish nation miscalculated Moshe’s return and determined in a state of fear and panic that their leader had abandoned them. As a result, they felt the need to fashion a new conduit to serve G-d and built the golden calf. G-d was so furious, He expressed His desire to destroy the entire nation and begin anew with Moshe.

Moshe needed to go back down the mountain to set things straight and persuade the people to repent. As Moshe began his descent down the mountain, he witnessed the scene first hand: The Jews were dancing and reveling around the golden calf!  Before Moshe breaks the Tablets in a fit of anger, the Torah informs us that the Tablets were inscribed on both sides: they were G-d’s handiwork, G-d’s script. This is a new detail. We are told further that one could read the Tablets from one side or the other side because the engraving went right though to both sides, a miracle that could only have been achieved through the hand of G-d.

Wouldn’t it have made more sense for us to learn this important fact when we are first introduced to the Tablets i.e. when Moshe received them, rather than describe them just before they are about to be broken? Instead, the Torah does the opposite: it gives a simple explanation of them when they are first given and a detailed explanation just as they are about to broken.

Rabbi Frand explains a possible answer in the name of a commentator Shemen HaTov:

Perhaps the Torah is teaching us a lesson that not only applies to the Tablets but to life itself. Failing to appreciate something fully until it is almost too late is a part of the human condition. Often we take what we have for granted; it is only when we are about to lose something that we start to realize how special what we have is.

This also plays out in the realm of human relationships. All too often we take for granted the people we have in our lives. Only when we are faced with the possibility of losing someone do we start to appreciate our time with them even more.

That is what happened with Moshe. When Moshe made his way down the mountain to the Jewish people, he apprehended the beauty and magnificence of the Tablets just before he was about to break them.

We can draw an important lesson from this story as to how to live in gratitude—not only when the object of our love and appreciation is about to be lost, but every day.

Stop and appreciate the experiences that that you are going through—now!  Sometimes we get so busy with life, we get consumed with all the details and the nitty gritty or we focus on the challenges and setbacks of life. We must stop to realize the blessings in our life, the important things that matter, the things we take for granted.

We are now approaching a full year since Covid began. With our freedoms restricted and the loss of our ability to connect with others in person, it is amazing how much we took for granted. With all the terrible aspects of Covid, there has been a silver lining: Covid has caused us to slow down from the daily nitty gritty and switch our focus to the beauty and blessings in our life.

May we take these lessons learned during this difficult time and carry them with us as our lives return to “normal.” Let us always remember what’s most important. Let us not wait until it is too late.

Shabbat Shalom!

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