“God gave Moses the two tablets like a bride to speak with”
~ Exodus 31:18
As strange as it sounds, this is exactly how the verse is written.
However, our tradition says there’s an intentional typo and prescribes a simpler reading:
“God gave Moses the two tablets when He finished speaking with him”
But why make the typo to begin with?
Because here the message is as important as the event: more than a rules, Judaism is a relationship. God’s not your boss, He’s your partner, in good times and bad, in sickness and health.
“And Aaron shall carry the judgement of the Children of Israel on his heart”
~ Exodus 28:30
Included in the uniform of the High Priest was a golden breastplate which he used to gain clarity when judging cases of Jewish law.
Since the heart is in the breast, the plate is obviously positioned over it; so what does “on his heart” mean?
It means judgement should always be ‘above’ the heart.
Emotions are natural and essential to a normal experience of life. However, since good judgement only results from impersonal perception, even positive emotions will blind you.
“You shall make two Cherubs of gold from both ends of the cover.”
~ Exodus 25:18
God gave incredibly precise instructions for building the Temple and everything in it.
The cover of the Ark – which housed the Torah and the tablets of the Ten Commandments – needed to have two cupid-like winged angels on it.
Of all the figures in this beautiful universe, why did God chose something that looked like a child?
Because when it comes to wisdom, being ‘childish’ is the best attitude you can have: they’re curious, unassuming and know they don’t know anything.
“Don’t abuse a stranger and don’t oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
~ Exodus 22:21
Of many hundreds of commandments, only a handful offer reasons to keep them. Why’s one given here?
Moreover, Hillel encapsulated all of Torah into the famous principle: Don’t do to others that which you hate. So isn’t it obvious?
Because human relationships are matters of the heart, it’s easy to justify our bad behaviour through our own painful feelings.
The only cure for this insidious rationalization is understanding how you would feel if it was you on the receiving end.