(Torah Portion Eikev) Tablets!
Greetings from the holy and beautiful City of Jerusalem!
Malki and I are here to attend the upcoming wedding of Tali Rutta, daughter of our friends Richie and Julie Rutta.
We also have the pleasure of seeing our son Chaim who is studying at Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem.
In the first few portions of the Book of Deuteronomy Moshe reminisced about the events, challenges and experiences that the Jewish nation encountered during their forty year sojourn in the desert.
Moshe did this during the last phase of his life right before the Jews entered into Israel with all the Jews in attendance. Interestingly and importantly not one Jew stood up to contradict anything Moshe said.
Moshe did not only talk about the good things such as the Exodus, the Manna, G-d proclaiming the Ten Commandments and the many miracles G-d performed for the Jews. He also spoke about the challenges, such as the sins of the golden calf and the spies which were major setbacks for the Jews.
It is nothing less than astounding that approximately 2.5 million Jews heard Moshe telling them things that either they or their parents experienced and not one person disagreed, opposed or denied any of the facts.
Moshe then wrote all this down in Torah scrolls that he gave to each of the tribes. That generation passed it down to the next, all the way to us 3328 years later. Pretty powerful and compelling!
When the Torah refers to the Ten Commandments that were written on two tablets of stone it uses the word Luchos – Tablets. It is interesting that the word Luchos is often spelled in the singular form, although by tradition it is read in the plural form of the word.
The question is, what is the Torah teaching us by writing it in the singular form?
Rashi explains that it was written in the singular form to tell us that although they were two distinct Tablets, they were equal. This means they were identical in weight and size and also that they were equal in terms of their importance.
Although the first Tablet speaks of five laws between us and Hashem, i.e. belief in G-d and the observance of the Shabbos, and the other Tablet speaks of five laws pertaining to our relationship with our fellow man, i.e. murder, stealing, coveting, still, the laws contained in both Tablets are essentially one. For a Jew to serve G-d properly, the laws of each Tablet are equally important. We are required to follow the two Tablets as a unit. Our moral code of behavior to our fellow man contained in the second Tablet is interdependent upon our allegiance to G-d that are contained in the first Tablet.
The Medrash teaches us that the two Tablets of the Ten Commandments correspond to different pairs – to heaven and earth, to a groom and bride, and to our earthly world and the Eternal World. This requires explanation.
We explained that we must embrace the two distinct components of the Tablets to effect a complete service to the Almighty. So too, we can we understand that all these pairs join together to form a complete unit.
Although the heavens and the earth are different, for the world to properly function they must co-exist.
The same is true with a bride and groom who set out to establish a home. Each one is different from the other. After all, they were raised in different homes and families, yet they need to complement each other’s abilities and differences and build on their relationship creating a unified and loving entity.
The same idea applies to our limited existence in this physical world. The ultimate purpose of our creation is to use our resources and personality to follow the word of G-d. The ultimate payoff is receiving our eternal reward in Olam Habah – the eternal World to Come.
It is interesting that there is a distinct difference between the first set of Tablets and the second set of the Ten Commandments in regards to the law of Shabbos. The first Tablets states Zachor – remember the holy day of Shabbos, while the second set states Shamor – observe the holy day of Shabbos.
Our Sages explain that G-d actually uttered the two words of Zachor and Shamor simultaneously, a feat that is impossible for a human being to do or hear.
G-d blended two separate words to impress upon us that remembering and celebrating the Shabbos is just as important as observing the Shabbos through refraining from creative activity to preserve the sanctify the holy day!
Wishing you a most enjoyable & uplifting Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks