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New Details Revealed in Testimony

New Details Revealed in Testimony

Thursday, 10 August, 2017 - 11:03 am

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If you thought that you would be getting a new scoop on Russian collusion or the S&WB water pumps, you are at the wrong news feed… I am going to address a far more current and relevant story – the breaking of the Tablets at Sinai.

In the book of Devarim we find Moshe recapping (and teaching lessons from) the narrative of the journey from Egypt, through the wilderness, to the banks of the Jordan River, overlooking Eretz Yisrael. One might mistakenly assume that we can zoom through it because it is just repetition. However, an astute reader will notice that there are details in the recap that are not obvious in the original narrative. For example, when Moshe reviews the story of the golden calf and the breaking of the tablets, he states, “I took hold of the two tablets, and I cast from upon my hands and broke them before your eyes.” Here he adds the detail of “taking hold of the tablets.”

Why would he have to “take hold” of the tablets when he’d been carrying them all down the mountain? This ties in to a fascinating textual analysis of why the Ten Commandments were presented in singular from rather than communal (plural). It was a way for Moshe to absolve the people of Israel from the sin of the golden calf. He could make the argument that all of these commandments were addressed only to him as an individual. Similarly, when the Tablets were given to Moshe, they were presented to him personally. (We see this from the text of the narrative about the second set of tablets.) Once he received them, Moshe resolved to share them with the people of Israel (as he did later on with the second set). However, once he realized that the commandments contained therein would implicate the people in the sin of the golden calf, he “seized them back for himself” so as to further remove them from guilt. His thinking was, “Let this all be on me. I will take one for the team” (as a good leader should).  Though he had no connection whatsoever to the sin of the people, we see that Moshe puts himself at risk over and over again to argue for Hashem’s forgiveness of that sin.

This is the degree to which our Ahavat Yisrael (love for our fellow Jew) must extend. To quote today’s Hayom Yom daily inspiration, “Ahavat Yisrael must consume a person to the core.”

I want to give a shout out to my children’s school, Torah Academy, on the opening day of this academic year. Started in the early 90s, Torah Academy took a big hit (literally and figuratively) during Katrina. Three years ago the brand new facility opened at the W. Esplanade location and now the enrollment has surpassed pre-Katrina numbers. We are excited for a great school year in every way! Thank you to all of those that are making this a reality. As we say in Hebrew, “Chazak, Chazak, V’nitchazek!”

This weekend Chabad Uptown is launching our Junior Shabbat Club under the direction of newly appointed youth leader, Mushka Rivkin. Junior Shabbat Club will be held each Shabbat morning from 11-12.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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