The Fast of Tammuz 17

He approaches the owner and negotiates a very reasonable price to have the broken pieces gathered, packaged and delivered to the birthday party, with specific instructions that the klutzy employee accidentally drop the gift at the front door.

The big day arrives. So does the deliveryman. Our hero's plan executes flawlessly. Sympathy all round and assurances that "don't worry, darling, it's the thought that counts."

All would have ended perfectly if some guest hadn't decided to open the package to examine what the gift had looked like... You wouldn't want to be in our friend's shoes when his Mother in law saw that the store employee had lovingly gift-wrapped each individual shard separately.

The Value of Broken Pieces

The Talmud lists five tragic events in Jewish history that occurred on Tammuz 17. The first occurred on this date in 1313 BCE, forty days after the Giving of Torah. Upon descending Mount Sinai and witnessing Israel's worship of the Golden Calf, Moses smashed the Tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments which he was carrying down from the Mt. Sinai.

G-d agrees to grant His nation a second chance and symbolizes this by allowing Moses to carve out a second set of tablets. The two sets of tablets, the broken ones and their replacements, are stored together in perpetuity in the Ark of the Covenant. But why keep the broken pieces?

By exhibiting the broken shards of the luchot we were constantly being reminded of our imperfect past. Displaying the evidence of our sins is a reminder of our inspiration to reunite with G-d, and determination to avoid future pitfalls, thus guaranteeing our right to not just receive but to live with G-d and his Torah.