Self-professed experts give much advice about why “love is (or isn’t) better” the second time around. One thing, however, is clear; it’s never the same. Whether it’s falling in love again with the same person, or with someone new, the relationship is not the same. The first experience changes us and impacts the second.
We see that in this week’s Torah portion, Ki Tisa. Moses brings God’s Ten Commandments down from Mount Sinai, sees the Israelites worshiping the Golden Calf and, in anger, smashes the Tablets. The Israelite apostasy is not only an affront to God, but a violation of trust in the relationship between Moses and the people he leads. Among the Israelites there is blame and recrimination. Moses and God argue about what should be done. Reconciliation comes at a price, and the Israelites experience God’s wrath. Yet, they also experience God’s love and compassion. Reconciliation leads to understanding and a second set of Tablets.
Jewish tradition says that when the second set of Tablets are placed in the Holy Ark, the remains of the shattered tablets are placed there as well. They serve as a reminder of the holiness of all that took place. May we also treasure our second chances and value, as well as learn from, the experiences that make us who we are today.