In Parshas Eikev Moshe is continuing his goodbye speech to Klal Yisrael. He cautions us to guard all of the mitzvos, even the ones that seem minor and one could figuratively trample with their Eikev – a heel. He then continues his review of the events of the Jewish nation’s 40 years in the desert. Exposing and showing the lessons we are to learn from each and every incident. One pasuk highlights something unprecedented Moshe did and until now Moshe himself never said anything about it. “[Moshe said to the Jews ‘When I saw that you made a golden calf,] I grasped the two luchos and hurled them from my two hands, shattering them before our eyes” (9:17)
What is higher, The Torah or the Jewish people?
When Moshe looked down and saw Klal Yisrael worshipping a golden cow, just a month after the revelation at Har Sinai, he had two choices. He looked down, saw the Jews – his people whom he loved. He looked up and saw Hashem, saw the luchos – the Torah he was holding in his arms like a father holding his newborn son.
Here, he had to pick one or the other for if he were to pick the Torah he would lose his people, they would surely be destroyed because of their sin. Yet if he chose his people he would have to figuratively drop the Torah. Without hesitation not only did he figuratively drop the Torah, he literally “grasped the two luchos and hurled them”. Moshe saved his people. His action shows that there has to be something about a Jew, something that is present within a Jew even when he is committing the worst of sins. This something makes the Jew more valuable than the ultimate of God’s wisdom, the Holy Torah itself. It would seem that the soul of a single Jew is greater than the Torah that allows it to shine. Yet how do we know this to be true? How do we even know the value of a human life? Only because the Torah tells us this story. Without the Torah we would never know the value and greatness of a Jewish soul and people. So we now have a bit of a weird contradiction: the soul would never know its greatness without the Torah and the Torah could not even be contemplated in real depth until it was shattered for the sake of the people. Therefore the ultimate Torah, as God truly wanted it to be received, could only enter once Moshe had sacrificed the Torah for his people. That is the key, Moshe sacrificed it for us to live. This is why the pasuk says “[Moshe] grasped the Luchos…” he was already holding onto it, so what need was there to grasp the Torah in order to break it. Rather, Moshe “grasped” the luchos as a gesture of ownership; he wanted to acquire them as his own personal property in order to take the full blame for breaking them. We see here Moshe’s selfless devotion to the Jewish people. Not only did he break the luchos in order to destroy the “evidence” of the Jewish peoples covenant with God that they had just broken by worshipping the eigel. Not only was he willing to give his own life to save the Jewish nation – he even took all the blame for breaking the luchos, as if Klal Yisrael had done nothing wrong!
Moshe’s example is a lesson to all of us. For each one of us is a leader. We are all responsible for each other, whether it be in the circles of our family, our friends, our coworkers, of the Jewish people, or all of humanity. We should be ready and willing to give up whatever necessary; our resources, our reputation, our being, in order to ensure the survival of the Jewish people. This sacrifice is what allowed the Torah to be established. Effectively bonding the ever powerful and intrinsically holy Jewish soul to the vast Torah. Thus transforming the world and our souls into God’s true home.