Shabbat Message from Rabbi Metz – Tangible Objects of Holiness

March 2, 2018
By Beth Mordecai
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Shabbat Message from Rabbi Metz – Tangible Objects of Holiness

Good Afternoon,

We have all see various depictions in film and art of Moses descending Mt. Sinai with the tablets in his hands.  He then sees the Israelites below him worshipping the golden calf and throws the tablets down as they shatter below him.  We read of this scene in this week’s parshah, Ki Tissa.

The Kuzari, written by the medieval Spanish Jewish philosopher and poet Judah Halevi explains one possible reason for how the people could commit idol worship so soon after the revelation at Sinai.  Halevi explains that the people were waiting with great anticipation for Moses to return. But what were they expecting to receive, the tablets of what was written on them?

Halevi explains that the people needed some type of tangible object of holiness.  However, some had forgotten that the purpose of the object was to be a representation of a spiritual message and of their relationship to the Divine.  They saw a medium instead of a message.  

When Moses saw this, he shattered the tablets in an attempt to teach the people that the object is nothing more than a tool and a symbol.  When a physical object no longer represents the spiritual message, it becomes meaningless or even worse, it becomes an object of idol worship.

What are the symbols of God and Judaism you hold dear?

What objects help you to feel closer to God and your heritage?  On this Shabbat, find those items, hold them and rededicate yourself to the ideals they represent.  Each time you see, hold and touch these physical reminders, keep in mind, they are a vessel for something much grander.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Metz

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Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal