Thursday, July 05, 2012

Broken Tablets

My husband shared a beautiful idea with me at dinner today. Its source is Brachot 8b.

והזהרו בזקן ששכח תלמודו מחמת אונסו דאמרינן לוחות ושברי לוחות מונחות בארון

Be careful to respect an old man who has forgotten his learning through no fault of his own [due to old age] for it was said: Both the whole Tablets (Luchot) and the Broken Tablet were stored in the Aron.

I found this idea to be extremely compelling. I thought it was beautiful in that it teaches the value of respect, and especially respect for knowledge, learning and effort, through the use of such beautiful imagery. I now see in my mind's eye the mingled fragments of the Luchot next to the whole ones, each one important and beloved by God in its own right. 

Heshy says that he has actually witnessed this in his community. An elderly man who might be suffering from Alzheimers or dementia or some other illness that takes the mind on a journey to a dark place will still be honored and respected through the day he is buried. 


Daf Hayomi said...

We have a saying around here that "Every day is Father's and Mother's day".
This includes parents that are senile.
Likewise we are obligated to respect the senile sage as well.
An explanation for this might be that when one learns Torah it becomes part of his person. His DNA, if you will.
This can be better understood with the comment made by the great Rabbi Meir Shapiro Z'L. (Founder of the prewar Yeshiva "Chachmei Lublin", and the propagator of the Daf-Hayomi.)
When asked whether it really pays to learn a new Daf every day even though it means that each Daf will be learned only once in seven and a half years. "People will forget what they learned!"
Said he: "The person forgets Torah, but the Neshamah doesn't forget!"
Of course it's vital to constantly review, but every thing learned even once will become part of the person's essence and remains within him, in his soul.
Therefore it makes perfect sense that the senile Sage, whom had studied AND reviewed intensely, is still considered a living Torah, albeit "broken".

Mindy Schaper said...

That is beautiful, and I can attest to the reality that elderly people are respected no matter how far gone they are where we are from.

theonlywayiknow said...

read this past week's mishpacha (family first) the article by C Saphir

smoo said...

Out on a limb here: Ancient treaties inscribed on stone have been found in storage where each of the 2 empires/nations had a copy. Could it be that the luchot were not set up as we always believed- 5 on one and 5 on the other but rather 2 complete tablets? One for us and one for God but since He had nowhere to put it, we kept them together.
Archaelogy never gets old- just sayin