Putting the Pieces Together in Eikev
by Rachel Landsman
We are all familiar with the colossal mistake the Jewish People made in the desert - the building the Golden Calf (and seemingly worshipping it) and Moshe consequently breaking the tablets. Historically, the Sin of the Golden Calf was as grave a sin on the communal level as eating from the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden was on an individual level. One that Moshe begged and begged forgiveness for, and finally attained for us on that Yom Kippur.
One would think that once we were forgiven we'd never want to dwell on it again or remind ourselves of the major consequences of our sin, let alone schlepp it around every day. But in fact, we are instructed in this week's parsha - Eikev - to carry the broken pieces of the original luchos with us in the Aron HaKodesh (Holy Ark), along with the new ones.
Why would we want to carry around a reminder of our biggest mistake ever? The original tablets were engraved by G-d Himself. One consequence of building the Golden Calf is that we no longer merited those tablets. The new ones were engraved by Moshe instead.
Still, the broken pieces of the holy original tablets were carried along, though they no longer could be used they way they were originally intended to be used. They were kept privately in a very holy and special place (the Aron). Why?
Because even the broken pieces of what was once the kesuba between G-d and the Jewish People so to speak (in other words, the contract that bonded us together, that represented our love) is so very precious; it remained a symbol of love between the Jews and G-d and of the high level that was once attained, if only briefly in time. The brokenness doesn't mean we love was lost, it just means we no longer able to contain it. Rather than being a reminder of a mistake, the broken pieces served as a reminder of connection and love.
The Kotzker Rebbe says there's nothing as whole as a broken heart. Indeed.
When something is shattered and glued or cemented back together, the place where it broke, the place that was weakest, actually becomes strongest.
May we merit to keep our holy broken pieces in a private and holy place within us as a reminder of our preciousness, and may we somehow mend our broken hearts and strengthen ourselves to be able to hold the love and closeness to the Holy One.