Parshas Ki Tisa – The Wealth of the Luchos

When HaShem has accepted the Teshuva of the Jewish people for the sin of the Eigel, He then commands Moshe to prepare for the second giving of the Torah. There are a number of major differences. The second Matan Torah is done quietly, B’Tznius, as opposed to the first one which was with thunder and lightening, and an overwhelming revelation of HaShem. The first Luchos are the product of HaShem Himself, and written also by Him. The second Luchos are prepared by Moshe, and only the writing upon them is from HaShem. There is connection between these two ideas, but I would like to focus on the second idea.

Rashi teaches us that HaShem says to Moshe, “You broke the first Luchos, therefore you need to prepare the second ones, so I can give them to Klal Yisroel again.” In order to make these second Luchos, Moshse requires the raw materials. Rashi brings one opinion, but there seem to be two opinions in the Yerushalmi. Rashi brings, that there was a quarry of precious stone in the tent of Moshe, and he carved out the Luchos from that stone. The second opinion is that it was from under the Kise HaKAvod, HaShem’s throne of glory.

In addition, Rashi brings what is found in the both the Bavli and Yerushalmi, that Moshe’s wealth came from the parts of the stone that were carved away to make them into the shape of the Luchos. This is the source that the Gemarra brings that a Navi needs to be wealthy. The question seems to be why is this important, and why is Moshe’s wealth from such a source?

Obviously, the first Luchos do not have any leftover parts. What is it about the second Luchos, that there are leftovers? And why does this not have Kedusha, but instead serves as the source for the wealth of Moshe?

Chazal teach us, and in many sources after this idea is expanded that the difference between the first and second Matan Torah, was the interface between man and the Torah. In the world of the first Luchos, man and the Torah were one entity. The Luchos were inscribed on Klal Yisroel’s heart. This was a level of Torah Sh’Bichtav, with no Torah Sh’bal Peh. By just seeing the Luchos, it was known what the proper action was. After the sin, the connection was not as direct. There came into the world the aspect of Torah Sh’bal Peh. That means that there is a process of trying to reach clarity. As opposed to Torah Sh’Bichtav, where all is clear, Torah Sh’Bal Peh requires clarification. As the Midrash says on the Pasuk in Eichah, “I sat in darkness as those who are dead”, this is the Talmud of Bavel which requires effort and backbreaking labor to clarify.

The process of carving out the second Luchos, is similar to the study of Talmud Bavli. It is a process of carving away what is extraneous to reach the pure truth. It is possible to reach that, but it requires tremendous effort. But even more than that, the process itself is valuable, and even those parts which are carved off retain their connection to Torah.

Moshe himself remains on the level of the first Luchos. But as the one who gives Torah to the people, he has to prepare a Torah for them. In order that one should not think that it is a man-made entity, it comes from under the Kise HaKavod. The glory of HaShem is enhanced by man’s involvement in the process of clarifying what His desire is. But in this world it appears in the tent of Moshe. But it does not appear as a fully formed, ready to be used piece of gem. It requires the effort of Moshe to form it.

The word used is “Psal”. That means “Pasul”, something incorrect, and also to carve away that which is not needed. Inherently those two meanings are one. But, when it comes to Torah even what is removed is part of Torah. The Talmud Bavli includes all the possibilities that are rejected, all the original thoughts, all the questions, all the possible answers. They are carved away to reveal the gem beneath. That is the process of preparing the second Luchos.

Moshe receives that wealth. Wealth is something above what a person needs for their existence. Moshe actually has the Torah of the first Luchos. But he receives an added gift, the Torah of the second Luchos. Chazal are teaching us that a Navi knows how to use all his gifts for Torah and to serve HaShem.

It is interesting to contrast this to the Pasuk in Yeshaya about how Avoda Zarah is made. The Pasuk says that they take a piece of wood and from half make an Avoda Zara and the other half they use to grill their steak. Avaoda Zara, what is left over has no significance, even by their own misguided understanding. Torah leaves an imprint of Kedushah on all that it is connected to.

[כשנאמר לכלל ישראל שובו לכם לאהליכם למשה נאמר אתה פה עמוד עמדי. כלל ישראל הותרו בנשותיהם, משא”כ משה. מה כן היה באהל משה? עמילות התורה, החמידו דאורייתא. וזה כדברי הרמב”ם, שאין מחשבת העריות נמצא אלא בפנויים מחכמה ומתורה. לכן נמצא אצלו הדברי תורה באהל שהוא כן חזר אליה.]

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