Made on Earth vs. Made in Heaven – Parshat Eikev
Man-made on Earth vs. Made in Heaven
There are various meanings to the term “man-made.” In a world where so many things are made by machines or robotic assembly-lines, it has a positive meaning, one that connotes craftsmanship and hard work. However, another meaning of “man-made” is synthetic or artificial, a poor copy of that which is natural.
How about Made in Heaven? Is it ever possible for something man-made to compete with that which is made in heaven? In this week’s Torah portion, Moshe recounts the story of the Tablets engraved with the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments were spoken to the Jewish people from Mt. Sinai and Moshe came down from the mountain 40 days later holding the tablets which had been inscribed by G-d. Thinking that Moshe wasn’t coming back, the Jewish people had fashioned a golden calf and began to worship it. After seeing the golden calf, Moshe threw the tablets down causing them to shatter.
Why? By most accounts, Moshe’s actions are attributed to rage. However, another explanation for Moshe’s action is more benign. The tablets were the physical manifestation of the contract between the Jewish people and G-d. One of the clauses of that contract was that the Jewish people would not worship idols. Upon seeing the Jewish people breaking that clause, Moshe destroyed the “contract” in order to protect the people so they wouldn’t be liable.
After Moshe prayed on behalf of the people, G-d forgave them, but would not create another set of tablets. G-d told Moshe to carve the second set of tablets on his own. These are the tablets that stayed with the Jewish people inside the Ark during the time of the temple. Although they were man-made, this set of tablets was the ones that stayed with the Jewish people.
What is the lesson? Perhaps we can learn from this that something which is divine can’t last in this world. Ever since G-d created the world, He wanted people to achieve and attain on their own. Superimposing spirituality from another dimension into this physical world won’t and can’t last. The first set of tablets was Made in Heaven, and therefore transient. The second set was man-made and therefore able to last.
G-d is waiting for our contribution to the world.
Carve your tablets and make a lasting impression.
Rabbi Mendy Hecht