Friday, March 1, 2013

Second Chances

Parashat Ki Tissa (Ex 30:11 - 34:35) shows us a deeply holy moment.  Alone with God on Mount Sinai, Moses receives the instructions for building the Tabernacle in the wilderness where the Israelites will worship God, and bring their sacrifices.  At the end of the instruction, God gives Moses the two stone tablets of the Law, the Ten Commandments, inscribed by the very finger of God.

As this holy moment transpires, the people Israel are growing restless waiting for Moses to return.  Will they ever see him again?  Moses' brother Aaron asks them to bring him their gold jewelry, and he fashions a golden calf from it.  The Israelites, apparently unmoved by their recent experience with God at Mount Sinai, begin to sing and dance and worship the golden idol they have built.  God reveals to Moses what is going on, and Moses hurries down the mountain.  Although he has been told what to expect, when he sees the Israelites worshiping the calf, he explodes with rage and throws down the sacred tablets in his hand, shattering them at the foot of the mountain.  

The next day, Moses goes back up to the mountain to try to appease God and win forgiveness for the people's sin.  God forgives the people, and allows Moses to carve two tablets of stone like the first, containing all the words that were on the first tablets.  However, this second set is unlike the first, written by the hand of a human rather than the hand of God.

We all have moments of rage, and mostly we regret them later.  Sometimes we do damage in those moments, and sometimes the damage is irreversible.  But sometimes, like Moses with the stone tablets, we get a second chance.  It is said that the holy ark contained both the second set of whole tablets, and the broken shards of the first set.  Perhaps this comes to remind us that even when we are fortunate enough to get a second chance, it is not as if the event that we regret never occurred.

1 comment:

Susan F said...

Thank you for your thoughtful, and reassuring, explanation.