Tablets For Life

Ki Sisa

“Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a ‎rainy Sunday afternoon.” (Anger in the Sky, 1943)

The author assumes that the desire for immortality is rooted in rational thought. ‎This logic is not unfounded. Just as sovereignty to end life, is within the jurisdiction ‎of the suicidal, it stands to reason that the converse i.e. the desire to live ‎perpetually, is likewise within the control of man. This gives rise to the above absurd ‎aphorism – why wish to live if you are bored on a rainy afternoon?‎

The yearning to be immortal, however, is not the product of a conscious decision. ‎Studies by Boston University, conducted in Ecuador, demonstrated that even young ‎children trust they existed prior to their conception, albeit in a different form. At ‎that juncture, they were unable to eat, see, or have a heartbeat; but they still had ‎feelings, desires and emotions.‎

The essence of the human soul is a spark apportioned from the Divine – there is G-‎dliness in every person and thus each individual is truly immortal. A body can be ‎destroyed by natural or physical phenomena, but not the soul. This human spirit is ‎the source of man’s wish for immortality. This desire for deathlessness, erroneously, ‎spreads from the soul to its temporary housing – the body –developing the ‎inspiration to live forever. ‎

Moses descended Mount Sinai carrying two sapphire Tablets. On witnessing the ‎Jews worshiping the Golden Calf, the letters engraved in the stones departed and ‎flew back to Heaven. These letters, written by G-d himself, could not tolerate ‎idolatry, and returned to G-d on high. Moshe, too, was repulsed. He grasped the ‎Tablets and smashed them to smithereens at the mountain base. ‎

‎“Why did Moshe smash them? Because the script flew away” (Tanchuma Eikev 11)

After much beseeching from Moshe, Hashem agreed not to destroy the nation. He ‎further commanded Moshe: “Hew a second set of tablets and carry them up the ‎mountain”. Hashem promised to inscribe them with what had been written on the ‎first set. Thus, the First Tablets where fashioned and engraved by Hashem, whilst ‎the second set were carved by Moshe and written by Hashem. ‎

There were other differences too. The power vested in the first set, had the ability ‎to permanently subjugate the Angel of Death. He would no longer have any ‎dominion over the Jews. Had the Jews not sinned with the Golden Calf, they would ‎have been spiritually and physically immortal. ‎

‎“At Mount Sinai the Holy One called the Angel of Death and said: even though I ‎made you executioner of the living, you have no business with this nation for they ‎are my children.” (Vayikra Rabbah ‎‏18‏‎:4)‎

The Tablets had two components: the raw sapphire stone and its engraved ‎message. These bear symbolism to the physical human body and the spiritual soul. ‎The mineral stone, which formed the background, represents the human body and ‎provides framework for all activity. The hallowed script documented the Divine ‎message and charged the Tablets with supernatural energy; this corresponds to the ‎human spirit which permeates, characterizes and drives man. ‎

When both the writ and stone were fashioned by Hashem they both had eternal ‎properties. If the Jews would have retained the First Tablets, they would have ‎guaranteed eternity for the corresponding human body and soul. The Angel of ‎Death would be powerless. Alas, they were not worthy and the letters flew to ‎Heaven and the Moshe smashed the stones. A new pair was made, this set however, ‎was hewn by mortal Moshe and written by Hashem; they had a Divine message ‎carved into a human background. In parallel, the body was now mortal once again, ‎but the soul which charged the body, retained its immortality. ‎

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