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Broken Tablets, Broken Souls

Moses Shattered the Tablets and then Redefined the Meaning of Brokenness

1 hr 1 min

Class Summary:

"The simple reading of the story goes like this: After the Jews created a Golden Calf, Moses smashed the stone tablets created by G-d, engraved with the Ten Commandments. Moses and G-d then ""debated"" the appropriate response to this transgression and it was decided that if the people would truly repent, G-d would give them a second chance. Moses hewed a second set of stone tablets; G-d engraved them also with the Ten Commandments, and Moses gave them to the Jewish people." "Yet a few major questions come to mind. 1. Moses, outraged by the sight of a golden calf erected by the Hebrews as a deity, smashed the stone tablets. He apparently felt that the Jews were undeserving of them, and that it would be inappropriate to give them this Divine gift. But why did Moses have to break and shatter the heavenly tablets? Moses could have hidden them or returned them to their heavenly maker?" "This seems strange. Why would they place the broken tablets in the Holy of Holies? After all, these fragments were a constant reminder of the great moral failure of the Jewish people. Why not just disregard them, or deposit them in a safe isolated place?" "2. The rabbis teach us that ""The whole tablets and the broken tablets nestled inside the Ark of the Covenant."" The Jews proceeded to gather the broken fragments of the first set of tablets and had them stored in the Ark, in the Tabernacle, together with the second whole tablets. Both sets of tablets were later taken into the Land of Israel and kept side by side in the Ark, situated in the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem." "3. In its eulogy for Moses, the Torah chooses this episode of smashing the tablets as the highlight and climax of Moses’ achievements. Why does the Torah choose this tragic and devastating episode to capture the zenith of Moses’ life and as the theme with which to conclude the entire Torah, all five books of Moses?! " "This class, using as a springboard two seemingly superfluous words in Eikev, will examine this entire episode from a deeper vantage point. It tells the story of all forms of brokenness in the human journey."

Please leave your comment below!

  • Anonymous -4 years ago

    I cannot open the class

    it only download 4 sec. can you fix it please

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  • DB

    David Berkowitz -11 years ago

    Yishar Koach
    I did break the tablets, and I want to pay it back in full !! Ad Musai! -Dovid (Ha Levy) Benveniste,which is the Leviitic origin of the name David Berkowitz ).

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  • J

    Jina -11 years ago

    Broken tablet
    As always I lissend two times and took notes.  so deep.  athank you

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  • W

    Wondering -11 years ago

    Question
    Great shiur. If the breaking of the luchos was so great, why is it one of the 5 things we mourn for on 17 Tammuz?

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  • A

    Asher -13 years ago

    please put subtitles in hebrew! great SHIUR!

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  • KT

    Kayo, Tokyo -13 years ago

    What a Shiur
    This is why I can not miss the class.
    Shalom

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  • H

    Hana -14 years ago

    More
    Beryl, I will not go into my story with the Rebbe here because it is kind of complex and long, tho very interestng. The Rebbe has done much more than we can know on many levels and for many lives. I don't think I would have liked to think of him in the mud at Woodstock, and I am sure there was lots going on at the same time elsewhere that he was involved in that could have been just as, or more, important than a concert, no matter how large. Woodstock is just the epitome of what was going on at that time. The era included everything that has been mentioned here already by everyone - the war, music, youth, drugs, ideas, etc. I wish we had more of the free feeling now that we had then. I think hippies are closer to the way Jews were in the desert than they are now, with the black suits and hats and wigs and heavy stockings and other garb, like from the European gettos. I wish Judaism could shake off the dull heavy exterior it has managed to collect over the years.

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  • Y

    YG -14 years ago

    Levi G
    Looks like the acid and alcohol has not fully subsided. Perhaps write back when your clean and sober and when you are completely liberated from the shackles of narcissism. You are like the scoffer looking to deflate the massive balloon of inspiration with your tainted perception. In fact, its kind of interesting how you could read through an inspiring article and say it is filled with ego and deceit. I am reminded of a teaching of the Baal Shem Tov which says, Since our sages say, "Ain Odom Roeh Nigei Atzmo" the manner in which we can view our shortcomings is by what we see in our fellow. The shortcomings that you find in this article are in fact the shortcomings that you struggle with. In fact, this is a deeper understanding of the words of our sages, "Siyag Lachochmah Shtika" Had you kept your mouth shut we all would have thought you were wise - but now its too late - you just gave yourself away.But its never too late to apologize and make good on your wrtongdoing especially in these days of Elul, when the King is in the field and accepts all of us, even the outright sinners among us with a shining countenance.In the words of Rav Nachman of Bresslov, Im Attah Ma'amin sheyicholim likalkel taamin shyicholim litaken" You, my brother, should be blessed with a kesiva vechasima tova and a gut gebentched yahr.

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  • LG

    Levi G -14 years ago

    A Lie
    I found your message concerning the "Woodstock" generation filled with

    lies and ego. With all the vomit on the floor of the synagogue that you were raised with, how do you dare say that religious Jews drink only once a year?



    The Woodstock experience was largely a media hype -- a rainy, bedraggled affair that created the musical standard for our present day. There was no mass indulgence in sex, and the acid created more baale-tshuva than you

    could begin to dream to mekarev. I was there. Matter of fact, Crown Heights real estate is populated with those people and their children--and they have a much higher level of morality than all your great Hassidim.



    You make the Rebbe look not respectable, all in the pursuit of creating a name for yourself. I suggest you and your ambitious staff go to Sullivan county and meditate on where you and your co-religionists went wrong.

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  • R

    Rand -14 years ago

    I was on the other side then
    As a product of the 60's (grew up in L.A. graduated H.S. in '67, in vietnam '68/69 and in a Navy hospital at the time of woodstock). The way I see it, it was a time the U.S. had more life, more spirit then any time since. We had very strong opinions and were willing to risk everything, even die for our beliefs.

    In the 40 years since, the spirit is gone, the quest for right, wrong and Truth is dead. People spend their lives hooked up to electronic drugs in a non-think stupor, buying whatever the slick salesman tells them to believe in his 15 second sound bite. Schools have dumbed the people down to the point they do not even know what is in the constitution. Seperation of church and state means there is no state appointed church, not that God has to be taken out of everything.

    And for 80% of the Jews to vote for an anti-Semetic, anti-American, muslim (any doubts, just look at all his friends, mentors and cabinate choices), the Jews had to be brain dead (and/or self hating). Even Israel is trying to commit suicide by being politically correct instead of self preserving.

    The fire and drive that was the essense of the 60's is gone. Replaced by politically correct, no winners and no losers, wealth redistributing socialists that do not even have the ambition to vote out of office the people that are destroying our once great countries (both the U.S. and Israel).

    If the majority of people are too lazy or too stupid to take the time to learn what the U.S. was built on and is supposed to stand for, the elections of 2010 might very well be the last elections held in the U.S. and what is left of the current generation will be left telling their children about the olden days when the U.S. was free and prosperous.

    And it is the fault of my generation, that let far left radicals be the only teachers, thus filling the heads of our children with stupidity and lies. And somehow they were even able to get the children to stop thinking, exploring and delving to learn more.

    Woodstock was a crossroads, it had the chance to question authority and make the U.S. even better, more free, more striving for excellence. Or it could go the way it went, pay lip service to freedom while pushing non-think conformity, politically correct speech and giving all the power to the government so they could take care of you and tell you what to think. You cannot even call a terrorist, a terrorist anymore.

    I, and my generation, not only failed, we have brought the greatest nation this world has ever known to the brink of self destruction.


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  • Z

    zvi -14 years ago

    question
    Aren’t there two occasions to drink? The other being Simchat Torah.

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  • B

    Berel -14 years ago

    To Hana
    Thank you for sharing. Can you share with us in more detail about the Lubavitcher Rebbe telling you to go your own way? I'd love to hear. Thanks so much!

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  • T

    Tzvia -14 years ago

    To Hana
    and Mordechai.

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  • JS

    Jan Schulman -14 years ago

    There was so much going on then...
    In the 60's, and when Woodstock took place, there was a very terrible war going on. A war that left thousands of young men dead, crippled, mentally damaged and left the citizens of this country polarized as to what we were doing and why. It was a wrong war. And it was a war that raised the consciousness of the young to realize that no longer could they just accept the dogma of their elders and act as lemmings. Woodstock became a symbol of that consciousness; and that war became a symbol of tragic horrible unncessary loss. Our young people who went off to fight went in good conscience and came back to a country who spat on them. They could not understand what they had done wrong and we could not understand how they could have done what they did. It was a difficult, emotionally challenging time. It was a time to throw off the shackles of mind-numbing materialism and shallow thinking. And the youth of our country, finding no real spokesperson, no real leader, nobody to help them find direction, went off in all directions. If the Rebbe's words could have been shared with all people, who knows what might have happened? These were words of wisdom, words of love and concern, words that offer succor and compassion to those youngsters so lost and struggling so hard to find a way, to find meaning in their lives. This article was remarkable and beautiful in its sentiment and meaning and I thank you for sharing it.

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  • H

    Hana -14 years ago

    The Rebbe
    That being said, I do not think that the Rebbe should have gone the route that Shlomo went, or he would not have been the Rebbe. He seems to have encouraged Shlomo to go his own way, and to do what the Rebbe could not do himself, as long as he stayed the head of the Chassidim. He encouraged me to go my own way, too. He has probably encouraged a lot of people to go their own way.

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  • H

    Hana -14 years ago

    Shlomo Carlebach
    I knew Shlomo,and his twin brother Eli Chaim and his mother the rest of the family there, and went to the shul. I knew he had been involved with Lubavitch, but I did not know this, from that article I referenced earlier:

    "From 1951 to 1955 I was, mamash [really], the Rebbe's right-hand man, Today, Lubavitcher sends out messengers all over the world, but then it wasn't yet organized and I was one of the first, actually Zalman (Schachter-Shalomi) and I were the first messengers of the Lubovitcher Rebbe. Zalman and I were his representatives, reaching his message to the world.

    So I did outreach. But I had some problems and I told the Rebbe about it. "Last night," I told the Rebbe one day, "I had one hundred people come to learn and sing with me." But in those days the Rebbe had the position that women cou ldn't sing with men [kol isha, women's voices would sexually arouse men according to some Orthodox traditions]. So I told the Rebbe, "When I told them that we had to sit separately men from women, I lost 90 people, and when I told them that women couldn't sing, I lost nine more, and the one person who remained was the biggest idiot. So instead of spending two hours with people who wanted to know something about Yiddishkeit, I wasted my time on one idiot. Let's assume that it's very important that men and women shouldn't sit together. Still, this is like a manicure for Judaism, making, it super-beautiful, but if the person is having a heart attack you don't give him a manicure. So I can' t do outreach this way.

    So the Rebbe said to me, "I cannot tell you to do it your way. But I can't tell you not to do it your way. So if you want to do it on your own, G-d be with you." So I split. If I had stayed, and the Rebbe had gone with what I was saying, he could have been Rebbe of the world, not just Rebbe of the Chassidim."

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  • J

    Joe -14 years ago

    Carlebach
    Shlomo Calebach said in that interview, "Take Woodstock. Why should Swami Satchananda go there - why not the Lubavitcher Rebbe? It would have been a gevalt -- it would have changed a whole generation. But the Rebbe chose to be the Rebbe of the Chassidim. You know, a few years after the Rebbe became chosen to be the Lubavitcher Rebbe, he wrote a letter to his Chassidim and said, "I have so many unbelievable dreams, but I can't do them because your heads are so small."

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  • Y

    Yaakov -14 years ago

    Words from one who was there
    Media images notwithstanding, the vast majority of people at Woodstock were neither on drugs or having sex. We were a bunch of young people who thought we were going to a concert, that turned into an incredible "happening".
    More importantly, by somehow being able to transcend the "superficial distinctions between Haman and Mordecai", these 500,000 were able to reach a deeper level, where in what turned into deplorable conditions there were no incidents of violance, only acts of brotherhood and kindness. The task for people today is to remove the hedonism and craziness of a Woodstock, and yet bring that kind of ethos into so called "normal" life.

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  • H

    Hana -14 years ago

    We're not there yet
    In the words of Joni Mitchell from the song "Woodstock":

    "We've got to get ourselves back to the garden"

    Sadly, I do not see the practice of Judaism as it has been interpreted so far as anything akin to the "Garden"
    Interesting article about and by Shlomo Carlebach http://www.havurahshirhadas...

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  • A

    alex -14 years ago

    You Got It Wrong
    I would suggest that perhaps the main point was missed by the interpretations in the article, including the Rebbe's.

    Rebellion in the young comes from a need to individuate and

    a quest for the new and the fresh. It is the way of things that what may begin with the extraordinary and exciting, soon becomes stale and boring. The challenge has always been, for

    religion and other disciplines, on how to keep people engaged with the "work". It is a generational lament that the youth is compromised

    through falling standards.



    Woodstock was a statement of

    disillusionement with the old and rejection of the status quo. The rock music alone, reflecting experimentation and

    exploration, contained that

    message.



    It is the hallmark of Chabad, and the Rebbe, that its minions are energized and enthused, and something they

    are able to pass on to others. This is a great gift, for aliveness is what we all crave. And if we don't receive it from Mordechai

    because he seems boring and stale, then we go to Haman to rock.

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  • B

    bassie -14 years ago

    Em....
    great essay, the reading just flowed like a boat on the river. then i came to the "and today.." the flow suddenly stopped short. please develop this further as a continuation.

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  • M

    michal -14 years ago

    woodstock tsorres
    The legacy of my 60s generation is AIDS, abortion, drug addiction, rampant divorce, homosexual acceptance/perversion. Let's not glorify the freaks and subversives who have raised the Obama generation!

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  • MC

    M. Corbett -14 years ago

    "Woodstock" Generation?
    Not everyone went to Woodstock in 1969, nor did everyone else think highly of that event - to this very day. Many more people served in the mud of South Vietnam, inlcuding some Jews who thought they were answering the soulful call to do the right thing by entering military service during this period. Following relatives' example of WWII and Korea, young men, and some women, of all levels of the Jewish faith joined the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Coast Guard, and even the Marines. Having served honorably, anywhere in the world (yes, Vietnam included), I wonder if the Rebbe said anything about or to us? Are there any (of his) words to describe the sacrifices made by these dedicated patriots whose lives were also forever changed by their experience? And, after witnessing the media hype of this eras' "peace" movement, are there any words to or about these veterans who are, for the most part, now entering their senior years?

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  • HL

    hinda langer -14 years ago

    to Lev
    The media responds to numbers of people involved in something....it was at least hundreds of thousands....worthy of reporting.

    Professional pollsters that work for corporations, politicians, etc. use far fewer numbers for seeing societal trends.

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  • HL

    Hinda Langer -14 years ago

    Woodstock article
    There is a saying in SF and elsewhere "if you remember the 60's you weren't there".



    Even though, no, I was not at Woodstock, the Rebbe was speaking directly to me without my knowing.



    Tzadik gozer v HaKadosh Borchu mekayam....We see how every observation by the Rebbe about social issues, health issues has become in line with the Rebbe's "opinion".



    Hospitals and other health care institutions are called "Centers for Healing or Well Being" Everything about mind/body medicine was spoken about before by the Rebbe.



    My picture is of the Rebbe being in the center of the ripple effect of all of his words emanating out in greater and greater ripples.



    Let's finish the shlichus and welcome Moshiach into our hearts, our consciousness.



    P.S. - in 1975 when my husband and I first came on shlichus, Rabbi Chaim Citron sat on the Berkeley campus doing outreach to students. An Israeli student asked him if he believed that the Rebbe was Moshiach. Rabbi Citron asked "why?" The Israeli said, "Doesn't the Rebbe end all of his talks saying that Moshiach should come MaMaSh - Mem Mem Shin for Menachem Mendel Schneerson?"

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  • S

    Solomon -14 years ago

    Question
    But if you destroy the structure, you might never get to this deeper level. Is it not then better to stick with the superficial structure? At least it is more productive and healthy?

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  • L

    Lev -14 years ago

    No Big Story
    The Woodstock experience was a media hype. Let's not make a big deal of it.

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  • YG

    Yochanan Gordon -14 years ago

    Yitzchak
    I am not arguing with the premise of the shiur. I enjoyed this shiur as I do all of them. I thought the Maharsha's question was interesting as a result of the Rambam who says that a baal teshuva is a completely new beriah who should rightfully change his or her identity as a result. The Rambam was a Rishon and while some of his writing may have been done in a poetic manner - he was not a poet. If the Rambam is suggesting that a Baal Teshuva change his or her identity he means that there is no relation between the guy who sinned and the one who repented. Teshuva is the ability to begin anew. In fact our sages say that even Tzaddikim when Moshiach comes will repent.

    In summation, Im not arguing on the premise of the shiur and while the Maharsha new the Rambam I feel that the words of the Rambam in regards to a Baal Teshuva suggest otherwise because the one who did teshuva is not the one who sinned.

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  • Y

    Yitzchak -14 years ago

    To Yochanan
    You are wrong in my opinion. The Maharsha also knew the Rambam. But the fact remains that as a result of his sins -- and doing teshuvah and becoming a new person -- he is getting more mitzvos than the tzaddik can ever hope to get, since the tzadik does not have all these sins being transformed into mitzvos. Hence the question of the Maharsha still stands.
    The chedush of the Rabbi's explanation is that it is not that the sinner is being rewarded with an extra "treat," but rather his work of teshuvah includes a new avodah and component which the tzaduk does not do - to transform darkness into light, now after he did teshuvah, and this creates an entirely new dunamick and energy.

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  • YG

    Yochanan Gordon -14 years ago

    Maharsha
    It is interesting that the Maharsha should ask on the Gemara, Zedonos Nassis lo K'zachiyos, "Lo Yehei Chotei Niskar" Accoding to the Rambam someone who does a sincere Teshuva should change his or her name to symbolize that they are no longer the one who sinned. According to this Rambam the Maharsha's question does not start because its not the sinner who is being rewarded - its a totally unrelated BAAL teshuva.

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  • A

    Avrumi -14 years ago

    mp4
    Could you provide the class in mp4 for download, so we can watch in our ipods. thanks

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  • B

    BRACHA -14 years ago

    JUST LOOKS INCOMPLETE !!!!!!!!!
    THANK YOU , MAKE SENSE WE ARE ALL SLAVES SAT UP TO SERVE HIM ACCEPT IT AND LOVE IT

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  • Y

    YYJ -14 years ago

    To Neshamah
    That expression is found many times in the Talmud, it is not from Reish Lakish.

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  • A

    Anonymous -14 years ago

    Rabbi Yosef makes many fascinating correlations for the first, broken, set of Tablets versus second set of Tablets. Here is a thesis: non-observant Jews versus observant Jews may correlatively be identified as two set of Tablets. Does it sound too heretic and completely inappropriate? What Sages could say about such kind of rough approximation and correlation? Analytically we might find an interesting clue for dynamic of their relationship through that wild guess.
    Thanks.
    Martin

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  • N

    Neshama -14 years ago

    I thought it was a reference to Raish Lakish something to the effect that 'does a sinner receive ... for sinning while someone who is good doesn't get anything for behaving....
    Who said this?

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  • B

    Berel -14 years ago

    To Neshama
    See source #3.

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  • N

    Neshama -14 years ago

    Raish Lakish
    I see the 'second' Raish Lakish re Teshuva; didn't you mention a previous statement by him? I don't see it in the curriculum. Could you write it for me and the source. I want to pass this on to my husband. Thank you.

    Tremendous insights of The Rebbe. Wish I could have heard his entire explanation. Surely it is very very profound. Thank you.

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  • M

    m -14 years ago

    great
    Phenomenal presentation - the shattered tablets have a story to tell a holy of holies part of your life not just a nuisance but an integral part of your holy of holies- very well taught and presented - compassionate, encouraging, clear, learned terrific!
    I sat with a 26 year old woman who just found out that she has leukemia- I will share this with her tomorrow.

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  • JS

    Jacob Savoia -14 years ago

    Regards from Brazil
    It was a real pleasure to watch you again! We´ll never forget your wonderfull lectures in Brazil!!

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  • BR

    Bonnie Reiss -14 years ago

    Tonight's Lecture
    Thank you for the important insights.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • J

    Joe -14 years ago

    Thanks
    So clear abd beautiful. Lovely! Thanks.

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Rabbi YY Jacobson

  • August 3, 2009
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  • 13 Av 5769
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  • 5622 views
In honor of the birth of Hadassah to Esther and Zalman Lebovic by David and Eda Schottenstein In the loving memory of Yosef ben Reb Shabtai and Dinah Elberg

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