"Go down, for your people have become corrupt, they have made them a molten calf…
and Moses cast out of his hand the tablets and he broke them." Exodus 32:7,8,19
The shattering of the tablets is probably the most impressive act performed by Moses during his tenure as
the leader of Israel. The last verse in the Torah, in which Yahveh portrays the climax of Moses' life, mentions the "mighty
hand and great awe," which Moses wrought in the sight of all Israel. Moses’ act of might and awe was his shattering
of the tablets. It would seem that this is his greatest epitaph.
The two tablets symbolized the two major categories of commandments. The first focuses upon man's obligations
to Yahveh, while the second focuses upon man's relationship with his fellow man.
When Moses heard from Yahveh that the people sinned with the Golden Calf, breaching their relationship with
Yahveh, he felt this act alone did not warrant the breaking of the tablets. His rationale was that the second tablet,
which represented man's relationship with his fellow man, did not 'incur' this liability. But when Moses descended the mountain
and saw Israel's debasement, he personally saw their immorality, incest and murder, and broke the tablets. Only when they
trespassed both boundaries, evidencing a disdain for both tablets, Moses broke them.
The lesson - when there is a breakdown in man's relationship with Yahveh, his perspective towards his fellow
man will ultimately be affected as well.