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Shabbat Parashat Chukat 5779

Ein Ayah: Different Types of Constructive Destruction

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 9:45)

Gemara: [One of the things that Moshe decided on his own and Hashem gave His approval for was that Moshe broke the luchot (Tablets).] How do we know that Hashem agreed to what Moshe did? It is from that which the Torah says [in the context of the second luchot that Moshe was commanded to arrange, in which Hashem referred to the first ones as] “asher shibarta” (which you broke). Reish Lakish learned it as if it said “yishar [kochacha] sheshibarta” (you should be blessed with strength for the fact that you broke it).  


Ein Ayah: There is one type of destruction for the purpose of fixing in which there is no way to get to the improved state without going through the destruction. The fact that there is no other way to do it is a limitation that relates to what is fitting from the perspective of the person who is to receive the matter, not from the perspective of the Creator, who has no limitations in what He can do.

When man performs an act of destruction in order to fix matters, it is proper that the improvement is at least as great as the destruction that preceded it. Still, if the destruction is one that only is done because there is no other choice, then Hashem would not give His explicit agreement to the action. After all, it stems from human incapacity! Even though the person did the proper thing according to his level and situation, it is not proper to attribute that to Hashem directly.

On the other hand, there is a type of apparent destruction that only looks to us as destruction, but it actually is just a great act of improvement. It is not just that there is no way to avoid the destruction but that there is a realization that, at the deepest level, it is an improvement, which can be viewed as the will of Hashem. The official confirmation of Hashem will never come on something that is bad and destructive, for Hashem’s Name is not placed upon evil and darkness.

In this case, we see the confirmation of “asher shibarta” in the context of the exciting time of the giving of the second set of luchot. This showed that the breaking of the first Tablets had not been a necessary destructive act but an absolute act of goodness, which was only cloaked in a facade of evil and destruction. This is what we learn from the fact that Hashem explicitly acquiesced, as seen from His blessing to Moshe – that Moshe should merit increased strength as a result of his action – and the way it was presented.  

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