Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Archeological Find: A miracle destroyed.

Imagine that a famous archeologist discovered in a dig a preformed slab of stone and as he is cleaning it off words in an ancient but still understood language appear on it. Those words conform with thoughts that he was thinking about at the time. Moreover anybody that looked at those tablets with words recognized some similarity to his own thoughts.

טז וְהַלֻּחֹת--מַעֲשֵׂה אֱלֹהִים, הֵמָּה; וְהַמִּכְתָּב, מִכְתַּב אֱלֹהִים הוּא--חָרוּת, עַל-הַלֻּחֹת.
16 And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.

Rambam explains this whole verse in Moreh 1:66. The tablets themselves are called the work of God as is all nature. That implies that God directed Moshe to preexisting naturally shaped slabs of stone.

AND the tables were the work of God" (Exod. xxxii. 1:6), that is to say, they were the product of nature, not of art: for all natural things are called 46 the work of the Lord," e.g.," These see the works of the Lord" (Ps. cvii. 24)”

The writing too was an anomaly; a unique one of a kind natural phenomenon created at the same time everything else was way at the beginning of time.

Or was the creation of the writing on the tables more difficult than the creation of the stars in the spheres? As the latter were made by the direct will of God, not by means of an instrument, the writing may also have been produced by His direct will, not by means of an instrument. You know what the Mishna says, ten things were created on Friday in the twilight of the evening, and" the writing" is one of the ten things. This shows how generally it was assumed by our forefathers that the writing of the tablets was produced in the same manner as the rest of the creation, as we have shown in our Commentary on the Mishna (Abot, v. 6).”

We have already discussed in an earlier post that the people were given instructions in basic theological philosophy, inferring the existence of a unique God. Imagine finding that idea naturally engraved on a stone – one would almost be stupid not to worship that stone. Could you imagine the cathedrals, pilgrimages and votive prayers that such an object would generate?
When Moshe came down and saw the worship of the Golden Calf he realized that this would be unavoidable. He therefore shattered the tablets and the Rabbis say the words flew away, disappeared. He shattered them to such an extent that the words could not be recovered.

R. Meir Simcha in Meshech Chochma (Shemos 32:16 and 32:19) explains that the rapid change in thinking that the Sinai experience forced on the people, did not give them enough time to grasp properly what transcendence means. They could not understand that holiness is more a state of mind than something spiritual hovering or attaching itself to a physical thing. Moshe made that point by taking this most revered and unique object, these tablets that were clearly made by God’s will, they in fact demonstrated that God has a will, are only special when they are perceived correctly. There is no intrinsic holiness only in the mind of the observer. The Rabbis say that God thanked Moshe for breaking the tablets. The second tablets although written by Moshe apparently still had to be hidden at the end of the first temple. We could not deal with them properly yet even today. Considering Uman, Meron and the contemporary “miracle workers”, have we really evolved that much?

Gut Yom Tov.


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