Gershon Hepner

Why Moses Broke the First Pair of Tablets

Wabi is the mystery

where the words in wonder glow,

sabi is the history

of serenity, repose.


Elegance is understated,

perfect in its modesty,

porcelain from which is tasted,

when we serve a goddess tea,


it repairing with kintsugi,

recalling Moses, who repaired

 broken tablets whose bi-beauty

to God’s first pair can be compared.


Comparisons, though, can’t be made,

since of two pairs of tablets, half

were smashed by Moses, most afraid

they would just like the golden calf


be idolized, as masterpieces

whose first commandment had by God

been signed, their theophoric thesis

hushed, as Hashem’s Homeric nod.


Meir Soloveichik explained on 2/28/24 in a Tikvah lecture, “Wabi Sabi and the Second Tablets”:

 Let us ponder the Japanese notion of wabi sabi, a phrase that combines two very different words, each difficult to translate. Together, they connote a joy in the uniqueness and beauty of the imperfect object, in the recognition that such an object reflects its human creator, and therefore the nature of human existence. The concept is described in a book by Nobuo Suzuki, titled Wabi Sabi: The Wisdom in Imperfection:

About the Author
Gershon Hepner is a poet who has written over 25,000 poems on subjects ranging from music to literature, politics to Torah. He grew up in England and moved to Los Angeles in 1976. Using his varied interests and experiences, he has authored dozens of papers in medical and academic journals, and authored "Legal Friction: Law, Narrative, and Identity Politics in Biblical Israel." He can be reached at
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