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“Hew out for yourself two tablets of stone like the first ones.” (34:1)

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Upon descending from Har Sinai and witnessing the degradation of Am Yisrael with the Golden Calf, Moshe immediately broke the luchos. After entreating Hashem on behalf of Am Yisrael, Moshe was commanded to hew out a second set of luchos. This time Moshe was to ascend the mountain alone. The Midrash notes the disparity between the aura surrounding the giving of the first luchos and the aura surrounding the giving of the second ones.  The first luchos were given amidst great publicity, before the entire nation, accompanied with thunder, lightning and smoke.  Chazal point out that the first luchos were adversely affected by an “evil eye,” because of all the glory.  Consequently, they had no permanance. The second luchos were, therefore, given quietly without ceremony. The lesson to be culled from the Midrash is simple — nothing can be more successful than that which is done modestly.

The Kotzker Rebbe z.l., understood this Midrash on a more profound level. The first luchos, because they were given amid such pomp, acquired their sacredness much more from Hashem than from the people. The second luchos, which were given under modest circumstances, had to be sought out by the people if they wanted to receive them. Only that which is acquired through determination, effort and resolve can achieve permanence. That which comes without effort is much less likely to endure.

Chazal teach us that Moshe Rabbeinu became wealthy from the pesolas, worthless chips from the luchos. This is enigmatic. Was there no other way for Hashem to make Moshe financially secure? What is the rationale behind this act?  Horav Shimon Shkop z.l., responds to this question by citing Chazal who state that had the first luchos not been broken, whatever Torah one learns in his lifetime would never be forgotten. Imagine, review would not be necessary, since the Torah would remain permanently ingrained in one’s mind. With the second set of luchos, this unique characteristic disappeared. One would now have to learn over and over again to achieve proficiency in Torah knowledge.

Horav Shkop explains that this new development might make people anxious about their livelihood. If access to Torah accomplishment is only reached through constant study, how would one earn a living? Indeed, had the first luchos remained whole, one would only need to study an hour per day and the rest of the day could be spent in financial pursuit. Hashem, therefore, made Moshe wealthy from the luchos chips. This demonstrated to the people that while Moshe was actively involved in preparing the new luchos, the small pieces of engravings became his.  His financial welfare was secure while he was involved in Torah endeavor. This is Chazal’s lesson.  One should seriously involve himself in Torah study and trust in Hashem to provide for his financial support.

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