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    The words of the Ten Commandments – Ekev

    Moses broke the tablets of the Ten Commandments when he saw the people misbehaving (Deut. 9:17). The tablets shattered to pieces though there is a tradition that the broken fragments were collected and kept in the Ark with the new tablets.

    This applies to the stone pieces of the tablets, but what about the words themselves?

    There is a Midrash that the letters of the words all flew off the tablets; none of the writing survived, except for the command, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy”.

    It is for this reason, says the Sadigura Rebbe, that we say in Shacharit on Shabbat, “Two tablets of stone he (Moses) brought down in his hand, and written on them was the observance of Shabbat” – i.e. of the first set of tablets all that remained intact was the Fourth Commandment.

    What we learn from this Midrash is that whatever happens in Jewish life, nothing can destroy the principle of Shabbat. Or rather, no external act can uproot Shabbat, but the Jewish people by its neglect can. And without Shabbat we not only lose a day which takes us out of our “normal” routine. We also lose the opportunity of recreating ourselves and our civilisation.

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