“The problem these days is that we feel obligated to broadcast to the world that we are perfect,” said Rabbi Yosef Yitzhak Jacobson when I met with him in his sukkah, in New York. “We don’t talk enough about our difficulties since we don’t understand that these very difficulties and the challenges they present lead us to the truth, to an honest assessment of who we are. We have only now begun to read the Torah all over again, starting from Genesis. Everyone is familiar with the first passage in the Torah, but what about the last? Just before we read about creation, the last passage in the Torah reminds us of Moses’ breaking the tablets of the covenant when he saw the people worshiping a golden calf. The Torah ends with a description of everything Moses did for us and yet, the final deed of Moses that is mentioned is his breaking of the tablets. And it’s truly astonishing that the last words of Rashi’s monumental commentary on the Torah are: yasher koach for breaking the tablets. Congratulations on breaking them! Leonard Cohen once sang:
Forget your perfect offering,
There is a crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in.
There is no reason to be embarrassed by cracks since G-d is in every one of them. As the Chasidim say, there is nothing more whole than a broken heart. It’s like the earth which must be hoed and plowed, split and broken up, in order for new growth to emerge through the cracks. When something is shattered, something new begins to emerge. We are not perfect. Even the Torah, which is the essence of perfection, ends with congratulations for breaking the tablets upon which it was written. And had they not been broken, the magnificent Oral Torah would never have come to be. Only after we are reminded of and see the importance of what is broken can we experience a new beginning once again”.