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    Moshe’s Wealth
    In this week’s parsha,
    Eikev, Moshe recounts
    the dramatic tale of
    how, following the
    Revelation at Sinai,
    G-d carved out Two
    Luchot, engraved them with the Ten
    Commandments, and presented them to
    Moshe on Har Sinai. When Moshe descended
    the mountain, however, he observed that
    Bnei Yisroel had created a Golden Calf as an
    idol. Moshe seized the Luchot and smashed
    them before their eyes.
    After a confrontation with G-d, Moshe
    persuades Him, as it were, to forgive the
    Jewish people for their betrayal. G-d instructs
    Moshe to carve out a second pair of Luchot,
    to replace the first smashed ones.
    In Moshe’s own words:
    At that time, the Lord said to me, “Hew for
    yourself two stone tablets like the first ones
    and come up to Me onto the mountain…”
    The Sages, always sensitive to nuance,
    focus on the word “for yourself” (“lecha”),
    which seems superfluous and even
    misleading, as though these Luchot were
    being carved for Moshe himself. The verse
    could have stated, “Carve two stone Luchot.”

    What does it mean “Carve for yourself?”
    The Talmud deduces from this that Moshe
    was permitted to keep the chips of the second
    Luchot, hewed from sapphire. As Moshe
    hewed the stone into Two Luchot, all the left
    over chips became his. Indeed, the word in
    Hebrew for “hew,” pesal, also means the
    leftover chips, the refuse (pesoles). This, says
    the Talmud, transformed Moshe into a very
    wealthy man.
    Nedarim 38a: Moses became wealthy only
    from the waste remaining from hewing the
    Tablets of the Covenant, as it is stated: “Hew
    for you two tablets of stone like the
    first” (Shemos 34:1). “Hew for you” means
    that their waste shall be yours. (As the tablets
    were crafted from valuable gems, their
    remnants were similarly valuable.)
    Rashi: G-d showed Moshe a sapphire mine
    from within his tent, and He said to him,
    “The [sapphire] chips shall be yours,” and
    from there Moshe became very wealthy.
    This is a strange commentary. What is this,
    a business deal? Moshe, you carve out the
    second Luchot, and you get a cut! It seems
    distasteful that Moshe is making money from
    the sacred Luchot containing the Ten
    Commandments! If G-d wanted Moshe to be
    wealthy, He could have found many a way.

    Besides, why did Moshe need the
    money anyway? Living in the desert
    for his entire life, receiving all of his
    needs directly from G-d, did he really
    need savings for a rainy day?
    I will present two insights, from two
    great spiritual masters. (The first
    comes from the third Rebbe of Chabad,
    the Tzemach Tzedek, Rabbi
    Menachem Mendel Schneerson of
    Lubavitch (1789-1866); the second—
    from his grandson, the fifth
    Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber
    Schneerson (1860-1920), known as the
    Rebbe Rashab.)
    The Refuse, Not the Essence
    Torah confers upon a human being a
    richness and royalty. Some 3,400 years ago,
    at the foot of a lone mountain, the Jewish
    people received a gift that transformed their
    life and destiny for eternity. The Torah
    imbued Jewish life with the dignity of
    purpose and the grandeur of the infinite. The
    Torah saturates every moment with ultimate
    meaning; it grants the Jewish heart, the
    Jewish home, and the Jewish community —
    rich and poor alike — a taste of heaven.
    Yet the richness of Torah, the wealth that
    comes along with a Torah life, is merely the
    “pesoles,” the “refuse” of Torah, the
    leftover “chips.” It does not capture the
    essence of Torah. What is the essence of
    Torah and its Mitzvos? They are the
    expression of the Divine, the voice of
    ultimate truth, transcending all material
    and spiritual benefits of this world or next
    world, for G-d transcends and precedes
    all benefits. Torah is our opportunity to
    touch the Divine in His essence, to reach
    beyond all our limitations and unite with
    G-d. What value is there to the richness
    that Torah confers upon my life—
    stability, meaning, purpose, consistency,
    focus, inspiration, discipline, depth,
    passion, family, faith, conviction, love,
    etc.—to the truth that Torah allows me to
    go beyond all of existence and touch the
    Creator Himself?
    The richness of Torah pales in
    comparison the core truth of Torah itself.
    The richness of Torah is how it benefits
    me, in this world, or in the next. But what
    value does that have relative to Torah
    itself—the ultimate truth which
    transcends even the highest actualization
    and fulfillment of “I.”
    The Chips of Your Life
    We now come to the powerful insight by
    the Rebbe Rashab.
    The second Luchot differed drastically
    from the first. As the Torah relates, the
    first Luchot were created by G-d himself,
    while the second were hewed by a human
    being—Moshe. He is the one who carved
    out the stone into Luchot; only then did
    G-d inscribe on them the Ten

    This reflected the difference within the
    Jewish people before and after the creation
    and worship of the Golden Calf: Initially,
    Bnei Yisroel were heavenly, pristine, and
    sacred, hence they were capable of receiving
    Heavenly Tablets, crafted in Heaven. After
    they tasted sin and endured spiritual failure,
    they could only receive the second set of
    Luchot which were man-made, and were
    inferior to the first. In the process of failure
    and rehabilitation, we confront our darkness,
    weakness and vulnerability. We are not any
    longer a clean slate of heaven; instead, we
    have much “pesoles,” refuse, sediments, and
    filth to deal with.
    Comes the Torah and teaches us a powerful
    lesson in life: It is from the “chips” of the
    second Luchot that Moshe acquired his
    greatest wealth. The first Luchot had no
    “chips,” no refuse and waste. Heaven knows
    not the pain of failure, filth of promiscuity,
    the abyss of addiction. The Second Luchot, in
    contrast, had many a chip. They represented
    our confrontation with addiction, shame and
    Moshe was a “wealthy” man. But his true
    wealth came only from the second Luchot—
    from the light and truth that is generated
    when we confront our darkness and we
    transform it into light. When we gaze at our
    “chips” and we turn them into Divine Tablets.
    It is from the confrontation with our inner
    gravel and trauma, that we discover our
    profoundest richness and our deepest truths.
    It is when we can look at our proclivity to
    depression, despair, and capitulation, and use
    it as a springboard for awareness, that we
    grow to discover an inner wealth not available
    in the heavenly, pure and holy first Luchot
    given by G-d himself to pure and innocent
    Despite the unparalleled richness of
    Moshe’s soul, his deepest richness came from
    dealing with the “pesoles,” with the refuse,
    sediments and gravel of his people. This is
    the wisdom and depth that emerges from
    life’s “dirt” and grime, from amid struggle
    and inner strife.
    As growing human beings, we must never
    run from our inner refuse, and from the refuse
    we see in others. Like Moshe, our truest
    wealth will come when we discover and
    extract the sparks hidden in the “chips” of the