Broken Shards of Hope

In this week’s Parsha, Parshas Eikev, Moshe recounts that after he broke the first set of luchos – in the aftermath of the sin of the golden calf (Deut.9:15-17) — he carved a second set of luchos.  Moshe now had a broken set of Stone Tablets, which had previously been engraved with the Aseres Ha’Dibros, and he had a new set of Stone Tablets, engraved and unbroken.  Hashem commanded Moshe to make an aron, an ark out of wood, to house the luchos (Deut.10:1-2).

The Sages note מלמד שהלוחות ושברי לוחות מונחין בארון – that both the (unbroken) luchos and the broken luchos rested in the aron (Bava Basra 14b).

That the new, unbroken luchos, engraved with the Aseres Ha’Dibros, rested in the ark, we understand. But why were the shards of the first luchos placed in the ark as well?  They represented a dark time in our national history, a time of bewilderment and sin, a time when we strayed and worshipped the golden calf.  Why would we want a remembrance of this terrible transgression?

While the broken shards served as a reminder and lesson to the nation to take care not to repeat the sins of the past, they also contain a deeper message for us all.

Perhaps we can propose that the broken shards of the first, shattered Tablets, are shards of hope resting alongside the complete Tablets. 

We all have times in our lives when we have erred, when perhaps we have strayed from ratzon Hashem, the will of the Almighty.  Perhaps we feel we are too far away from Hashem to come back to Him.  Perhaps He will not take us back, chas v’shalom!  The broken shards of the first luchos remind us that no matter what we have done – and it may be as severe a transgression as the sin of the golden calf – there is always room for us in the ark of Hashem; there is always a place for repentance and return.

Hashem commanded Moshe to place both sets of luchos in the ark.  The complete set was engraved with the Aseres Ha’Dibros, from which all other mitzvos are derived (see Rashi to Ex.24:12).  We needed that set as our guide in life and the foundation of Torah.

As for the broken set – yes, even that we keep.  It reminds us to follow the straight path.  And it encourages us when we have sinned.  Hashem always awaits our return, no matter how broken we may be.  Just as those who are complete are before Him, so too, those who are shattered are before Him. 

As we prepare to usher in Chodesh Elul, the month of repentance, let us keep the broken luchos in mind… No matter what one may have done this past year, no matter how one may have sinned, erred or strayed, no matter how far one may feel from Hashem, He cherishes each one of us and awaits our return.  For in the ark of Hashem, there is room for us all. 

Amongst those shards of rock, there is the glimmer of hope: the light of teshuva – the gift of repentance and return.

בברכת שבת שלום,


  • Carol
    Posted at 16:03h, 06 August

    Dear Michal,

    Powerful and inspiring as always! Perfect message to convey as we approach Rosh Hashana.

    Thank you!

  • Debbie Friedman
    Posted at 17:00h, 06 August

    Thank you… beautiful as usual

  • Shani
    Posted at 17:55h, 07 August

    Beautiful. And also, those that are “broken” (off the derech) are still loved by Hashem. And those who are broken by their challenges are loved as well. So, so beautiful.

  • Marla
    Posted at 18:28h, 07 August

    Beautiful message. When we feel broken, we need to turn to Hashem for repair.

  • Rochy Fried
    Posted at 13:46h, 09 August

    My son and I were discussing this and he mentioned the gematriah for the word Eikev. If you add the letters, they equal 172. If you then add those three digits together, you get 10, representing the asseres hadibros. The word Eikev teaches us that the asseres hadibros might be revered as the 10 “biggies” in Halacha, but the littlest-perceived Halachos must be given the same weight and chashivus as the “EIKEV” ones in the Luchos. Similar to what we learn in the Rashi on that possuk, but with the gematriah thrown in. I am sure others have thought of this, but it was a nice springboard for discussion.