Throwing Stones: Ekev 2018

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: When we try to fix what is broken, how often do we focus on the cause of the break, and how often do we focus on the solution? Under what circumstances should the cause of the break matter?

As Moses continues his recounting of the Israelites’ 40 years of wandering, he mentions in vivid detail one of the low moments of their journey:

The Pitch: “Thereupon I gripped the two tablets and flung them away with both my hands, smashing them before your eyes.” – Deuteronomy 9:17

Swing #1: “Only the stone tablets which were ‘before your eyes’ were broken. The letters which had been engraved upon them flew away and remained whole.” – Rabbi Israel of Ruzhin

Swing #2: “It says: ‘There is a time to every purpose under the heaven … a time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together’ (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 5). This is applicable to Moses: there was a time for him to cast away tablets and a time to hew new ones.” – Deuteronomy Rabbah

Swing #3: “The word [for ‘I threw them’] is spelled defectively, without a yud. [This indicates that the letters inscribed into the tablets of] the Ten Commandments flew away from them [i.e., from the broken tablets].” – Baal Turim

Late-Inning Questions: Do our commentators appear to minimize the impact of Moses breaking the original tablets of the Ten Commandments? Do they see the damage of his action as unfortunate or necessary — or both? When do acts of destruction lead us to moments of wholeness? How can that happen?

Summer Training: Spending the week in high altitude makes drinking water even more essential, and makes every step tougher. I’m told that, after two weeks, the bodily effects of high altitude are neutralized. But I won’t be here long enough to test that out …

The Big Inning at the End: One of the funniest recent baseball stories was when White Sox pitcher Chris Sale took a pair of scissors and destroyed an admittedly awful uniform he was expected to wear. It’s amusing when so-called professionals do something far below their maturity level.

Shabbat Shalom!