Midot HaYom: Day 2 – Gevurah in Chesed
Carrying the Tablets, Moshe joyfully went down the mountain. But when he saw the misdeed they committed in making the golden calf, he said to himself: “How can I give them the Tablets? I will be obliging them to observe major Mitzvot and condemning them to death at the hands of heaven, for it says in the Ten Statements; “Do not have any other powers before Me.” (Exodus 20:3) He turned back, but the seventy Elders, seeing him go back, ran after him. He held on to one end of the Tablets, and attempting to prevent him from returning them, the Elders took hold of the other end of the Tablets, as it says, “I grasped the two Tablets.” (Deuteronomy 9:17) The word “grasped” implies that someone was trying to tear the away from him. But Moshe was stronger, as it says, “And by all the strong hand and awesome power that Moshe displayed before the eyes of all Israel.” (Deuteronomy 34:12) Avot of Rabbi Nathan 2:2
The people were desperate for the Tablets. They could not imagine losing such an awesome gift. It was just outside their grasp, and they perceived Moshe as pulling the Tablets away. Moshe intended to protect them. He had to draw on his great strength to stand up to the people he was trying to help. Moshe was willing to risk everything and shatter this precious gift from God in order to protect his people. He actually had to fight to protect them.
We usually associate Chesed – Nurturing Life Force – with acts of obvious kindness, but there are times when Chesed demands that we draw on our inner strength and actually fight to help others. Children do not perceive natural consequences as Chesed, but they are. We fight our children in order to help them. There are times when Chesed demands that we not “help” someone, but to force them to help themselves.