Our Torah by Marc Poleyeff


After the tragic incident of Cheit HaEigel, Moshe descends Har Sinai and smashes the Luchot.  Consequently, Hashem commands Moshe (Shemot 34:1) to carve two new Luchot just like the first ones: “Pesol Lecha Shenei Luchot Avanim KaRishonim.”  A question arises from these instructions: what created a need for the second Luchot to be carved out by Moshe, unlike the first Luchot, which were entirely made by Hashem?

To answer this, we must understand why Bnei Yisrael committed the Cheit HaEigel, which led to the destruction of the first Luchot and thus the need for the second ones.  Bnei Yisrael knew that the first Luchot contained the essential part of the Torah they were given at Har Sinai and were entirely Hashem’s work.  They therefore believed that they would only be able to understand the Torah with the help of supernatural powers.  Therefore, Bnei Yisrael made the image of a calf, mimicking the one engraved on the Heavenly Chariot (see Chizkuni), thinking that by serving it they could come closer to Hashem and attain a greater understanding of His Torah.  As long as Moshe was with them, they relied on him to teach them Hashem’s Torah.  Now, as the Midrash tells us, they believed Moshe to be dead, so they desired another connection to Hashem and His Torah, and as a result built the Eigel.

However, the Torah was intended for mortals to understand by themselves without looking for other sources of help.  We are able to achieve the highest levels of the Torah utilizing our own powers.  Therefore, to teach this lesson, Hashem wanted the second Luchot to be, as much as was possible, the work of the mortal Moshe.  This would show Bnei Yisrael that they could reach any level of the Torah if they worked hard enough.  The Torah that was given through a human and is called “Torat Moshe,” “The Torah of Moshe” (Malachi 3:22), was also meant to be understood by humans using their own intellects.


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