At the end of his exhausting second 40 day effort, again without food or water, Moshe was rewarded with a command to hew new tablets, as Hashem accepted his petition and forgave them. They were re-granted their important role in the divine plan. Moshe said Hashem did not desire for them to be, hashchitecha l’Hashchit- destroyed physically. It indicates an undermining and dismissal of someone or something, an emotional or spiritual destruction. For instance an ineffective educator is considered a mashchit as she/he causes a student to abandon his/her potential, which is waiting to be nurtured and developed. The confidence of a person who has invested great effort into preparing a masterful lecture can be destroyed by the words of a jealous colleague, a mashchit. The resulting lack of confidence will cause the next lecture to indeed be inferior.
Our status as am ha’Nivchar explains the significant role the Jewish people played throughout history, despite our relatively tiny population. The world barely pays attention when two obscure nations go to war. India and Pakistan, with a combined population of some 1.5 billion, quarrel over Kashmir, threatening to unleash a nuclear war. Russia and the satellite countries were all major issues in 1956, and continue to threaten world peace to the current day, as per Ukraine and the former Soviet countries. Syria, Egypt, Libya, Iraq are all burning. Yet the world and the feckless UN are silent. However, when tiny Israel and the Jews are involved, representing less than 2 tenths of one percent of world population, they become the dominant issue and scapegoat, relegating the other stories to second-class status. For the second time in 70 years we are threatened by an enemy who is a direct descendant of Amalek, whose raison d’etre is defined as l’Chu v’nach’chiydem m’Goy, to obliterate the Jewish nation. How little the world has changed! Moshe’s second Tefillah successfully restored the covenant with Hashem, and reestablished the Jew nation’s unique historical status. Our significance has always been a reflection of our quality, am ha’Nivchar, not our quantity.
If Moshe successfully acquired the second set of luchot with his second prayer, why did he again pray for 40 days and nights during the third visit to Mount Sinai, apparently with the same fervor and urgency he displayed with vayechal, and his prayer during the intermediate 40 days? Moshe recognized that ultimately, the Jews will violate the covenant in the future, and they will again be trapped in an existentially threatening situation. Who will persuade them to repent like Moshe did when he forced them to recognize their transgression with the eigel? Hashem provided the formula of the thirteen attributes, beginning with the repetition of Hashem’s name. Hashem instructed him that when His children sin, they should perform the order of the 13 middot and they will be forgiven immediately. Chazal says that this refers to Hashem before and after a man sins. Hashem promised to provide that subconscious calling to the Jew, constantly prodding him to return to Hashem, to live a holy existence. Hashem promised to accept the returning Jew and erase the blemish of his sins, as long as he repents. A politician who violates the public trust resigns (or she should have the decency to resign) his/her post. He may express remorse, but the community is not required to extend him in his position. A felony conviction remains on record after the convict pays his debt to society. Our covenant with Hashem says no matter how far we may stray, we can always return to Hashem and reset our relationship. When thousands sinned by attending the parties of Achashveirosh, the barely audible sound of Hashem prodded them to repent and saved them. A Kohen Gadol who sins and commits even major transgressions, may reacquire his status after he repents. Such is the power of teshuva.