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ב"ה

A Gari Moment

Friday, 18 February, 2022 - 7:09 am


The Jews had just committed a grave sin.

Less than six weeks after experiencing the most unique interaction with their Creator at Sinai, the Jewish people worshipped a golden calf. Moshe, their leader, had been studying the Torah with G-d on top of Mt. Sinai and descended the mountain with two tablets of stone in his hands. Prepared to deliver the Ten Commandments to the people, he instead is witness to the treasonous act. Immediately, he smashes the Tablets and scolds the people.

Eventually they repent and Moshe intercedes on their behalf and G-d forgives them. The sign of their pardon is the second set of Tablets that G-d ultimately grants them.

We can understand Moshe’s reluctance to give the unworthy Jews the Divine Tablets. But, why did he destroy them?  Why not simply put them aside for a time when the nation of Israel would be more deserving?

The Midrash relates that Moshe was indeed pained by the fact that he ruined G-d’s handiwork.  G-d assuaged his troubled feelings, telling him that the original Tablets only had the Ten Commandments, but the final set would come with the addition of the detailed laws, Midrash and Aggadic interpretation.

In fact, G-d thanked Moshe for breaking the Tablets, thus necessitating the second, superior Tablets.

Going from Tablets Version 1.0 to Tablets Version 2.0 was no simple task.

It was sort of like going from a California roll to a tuna roll, or from sashimi to kappamaki – you need some gari in-between.  If the flavor of the previous piece of sushi is still lingering in your palate it will compromise the taste of the latter. The ginger destroys the previous taste. And, precisely that destruction is what allows the new taste to be appreciated.

This may help us appreciate why Moshe broke them in the first place.  He recognized that in order for the Jews to be worthy of and value the infinite wisdom that was to be contained in the Oral Tradition arriving in the ‘updated’ Tablets, they would first need some form of hard-drive reformatting. Temporarily setting aside the Tablets and simply moving on from their terrible sin would not suffice.  They would need to become utterly broken and start anew.

By shattering the Tablets, Moshe was assisting the Jewish people. He was affording them the opportunity for a complete makeover.  Without this terrifying ‘gari moment,’ they may never have gotten to Version 2.0.

Sometimes starting over is better than continuing where we left off.

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