And G-d said to Moshe: “hew for yourself two tablets of stone like the first ones, and I will write on the tablets, those words which were on the first tablets which you broke.“ (Shemos 34;1) The sight of the worship of the Golden Calf had made Moshe drop the first set of tablets of stone containing the Ten Commandments. He was now instructed make a replacement set. The verse records that although G-d Himself would write the text upon the second tablets, the actual hewing of the stones had to be done by Moshe. Why? If the G-d had manufactured the first set, why should Moshe be the one

to hew the second set? The sin of the Golden Calf: What lay at root of the error of the Israelites that led them to an idolatrous endeavour? Rabbi Moshe Feinstein conjectures that the root of the error lay in the first tablets of stone themselves.

Hewn by G-d these first stones symbolised the importance of the Divine and the consequent inadequacy of man. The first tablets carried the message that man, by himself, cannot attain full spiritual levels, and that in order to attain spiritual levels only G-d, or His representative could help him.

Now, as long as Moshe was there the children of Israel felt that he could bring them close to G-d. But his failure to return on time, convinced the children of Israel that they needed to make a substitute intermediary – a Golden Calf - which could help bring them close to G-d. But this was all so mistaken, and so antithetical to Judaism.

The truth is that the Torah was given to ordinary human beings who, by their own powers and forces, can achieve high spiritual levels. They do not need intermediaries.

Therefore the second tablets were aimed at eradicating the previous erroneous impression. Moshe, the human being, now had to be a full participant, by hewing the stone.

This would show that human beings, through their unmediated efforts, can achieve the highest spiritual levels - as long as it is in accordance with the wishes of G-d as expressed in His Torah.

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