Exodus 32:15-19 Now Moshe faced about to come down from the mountain, the two tablets of the Testimony
in his hand, tablets written on both their sides, on this-one, on that-one they were written;
16 and the tablets were God's making, and the writing was God's writing, engraved upon the tablets.
17 Now when Yehoshua heard the sound of the people as it shouted, he said to Moshe: The sound of war is in the camp!
18 But he said: Not the sound of the song of prevailing, not the sound of the song of failing, sound of choral-song is what I hear!
19 And it was, when he neared the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moshe's anger flared
up, he threw the tablets from his hands and smashed them beneath the mountain.
Exodus 34:1 Then YHVH said to Moshe: Carve yourself two tablets of stone like the first-ones, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets which you smashed.
4 So he carved two tablets of stone like the first-ones.
to Mount Sinai, as YHVH had commanded him, and he took in his hand the two tablets of stone.
Biblical Translations by Everett Fox-- The Schocken Bible
Breaking of Luchot Unintentional (Pireki D'Rebbe Eliezer 45)
Moshe took the luchot and went down (the mountain), and the letters were carrying themselves and Moshe... and when the (letters) saw the instruments and the golden calf, they flew off the luchot, and became heavy. Moshe could no longer carry them, so he threw them out of his hands, as it says, "and he broke them under the mountain."
Why did Moshe Shatter the Tablets?
Midrash Shemot Rabah 43:1
What did Moshe do? He took the Luchot from the hand of the Holy One, blessed be He, in order to calm His anger. To what is this compared? To a king who sent someone to betroth a woman through a middleman. She went and acted inappropriately with another man. The middleman, who was innocent, what did he do? He took the ketubah which the king gave him to betroth her and tore it. His intention being that it is better she is judged as an unmarried woman than a woman who is married.What Moshe did was the same. When the Jewish people sinned, he took the Luchot and broke them, so as to say that if they would have seen their punishment, they would have not sinned.
Midrash Avot DeRabi Natan chapter 2
He looked at them and saw that the words had flown out of them. He said, “How can I give the Jewish people the Luchot with no substance? Rather, I will grab them and break them.”
The Value of the Shattered Tablets.
Talmud Tractate Shabbat 87a
We have learned: Three things Moshe did of his own accord and HaShem agreed to his judgment… He broke the Luchot. What was his reasoning? He said, “The Passover Offering which is only one of the 613 mitzvot, the Torah says, ‘any strange person (idol worshiper) should not eat from it;’ the Luchot contain the entire Torah and the Jewish people are transgressors, how much more so [that it should not be given to them]!”
How do we know that HaShem agreed with his judgment? For it is written, “(The first Luchot) which you have broken” (Shemot 34:1), and Reish Lakish said that the word “asher” (which) can be juxtaposed to mean “Yasher Kochacha (congrats) for having broken it.”
Rashi: For he was moved to smash the Tablets before their very eyes, as it is written (above, Deut. 9:17), "smashing them before your eyes," and the Holy One, blessed be He, was of like mind with him, for it is written (Ex. 34:1), "which you shattered"—the more power to you (Yasher Koach!)
Talmud Tractate Bava Batra 14b
Rav Huna said… the [full] Luchot and the broken Luchot lay [side by side] in the Aron (Holy Ark).
F. R. Yitzhak Arama, Akeidat Yitzhak, 15th century Spain
Why didn’t God sculpt the second tablets, the way He sculpted the first ones? Because that which is totally Divine is not sustainable in the hands of humans. Therefor the first tablets, which were “made by God and written by God”, were not sustainable. Therefore God told Moses “sculpt [the second Tablets] for yourself” – you make them and I will shape them, thus retaining both the shape and image of the first ones, but these will be sustainable.
Reshit Hokhma, R. Eliyahu deVidash, Gate of Holiness 7; 16th C Kabbalistic Moral tome
The Zohar teaches that the human heart is the Ark. And it is known that in the Ark were stored both the Tablets and the Broken Tablets. Similarly, a person’s heart must be full of Torah… and similarly, a person’s heart must be a broken heart, a beaten heart, so that it can serve as a home for the Shekhina. For the Shekhina [divine presence] only dwells in broken vessels, which are the poor, whose heart is a broken and beaten heart. And whoever has a haughty heart propels the Shekhina from him, as it says “God detests those of haughty hearts”.
For the Hasidic Reb Natan of Nemirov, the Broken Tablets are a necessary part of the process: “Through broken tablets, i.e. broken faith, by means of that brokenness itself the faith returns and amends itself, which is the second tablets.”
The First Tablets are broken, so broken. But that is not the end of the story.
They are a crucial part of the path towards the creation of Second Tablets, Second Naivete.
There is no such thing as unbroken faith, just as there is no such thing as unbroken love. By grasping the brokenness the new tablets can be achieved. Tikkun requires some breakage.
(courtesy of Broken Tablets: A Study Guide for Shavuot Rabbi Mishael Zion)
When Moshe saw the Bnai Yisroel sinning with the Golden Calf, he looked at the Tablets and saw the words begin to fly off from them. At that point the Tablets became heavy in his hands and they fell down to the ground, shattering.
(Yalkut Shimoni #393)
On 7 Sivan, Moses went up onto the mountain . . . On 17 Tammuz, the tablets were broken. On the 18th, he burned the [Golden] Calf and judged the transgressors. On the 19th, he went up for forty days and pleaded for mercy. On 1 Elul, he went up to receive the second tablets, and was there for forty days. On 10 Tishrei, G‑d restored His goodwill with the Jewish people gladly and wholeheartedly, saying to Moses, “I have forgiven, as you ask,” and gave him the Second Tablets.
Rashi, Exodus 32:1 and 33:11
"There is a Japanese word kintsukuroi that means "golden repair." It is the art of restoring broken pottery with gold so that the fractures are literally illuminated - a kind of physical expression of the spirit. As a philosophy kintsukuroi celebrates imperfection as an integral part of the story, not something to be disguised. The artists believe that when something has suffered damage and has a history, it becomes more beautiful. In kintsukuroi, the true life of an object (or person) begins the moment it breaks and reveals that it is vulnerable. The gap between once pristine appearance and its visual imperfection deepens its appeal." May the cracks become visible and may a golden light shine."