As an example of G d’s willingness to forgive the Jewish people for their misdeeds, Moses recounted the incident of the Golden Calf.
Assuming the Blame
וָאֶתְפֹּשׂ בִּשְׁנֵי הַלֻּחֹת וָאַשְׁלִכֵם מֵעַל שְׁתֵּי יָדָי וָאֲשַׁבְּרֵם לְעֵינֵיכֶם: (דברים ט:יז)
[Moses said to the Jewish people, “When I saw that you had made the Golden Calf,] I grasped the two tablets and hurled them from my two hands, shattering them before your eyes.” Deuteronomy 9:17

Moses was already carrying the two tablets, so he had no need to “grasp” them in order to break them. He grasped them as a gesture of ownership; he wanted to acquire them as his own personal property in order to assume the full blame for breaking them.

We see here Moses’ selfless devotion to the Jewish people. Not only did he break the tablets in order to “destroy the evidence” of the Jewish people’s covenant with G‑d that they had just broken. Not only was he willing to give up his life in order that G‑d forgive the Jewish people. He even took upon himself the blame for breaking the tablets. And let us recall that Moses had absolutely no part in the incident of the Golden Calf – he was not even “guilty” of not trying to prevent it, since he was not present when it took place!

Moses’ example is a lesson for all of us, for we are all leaders. We all are responsible for each other – whether in the circle of the family, of our friends, of our associates, of the Jewish people, or of all humanity. We should be ready and willing to give up whatever necessary – our resources, our reputations, even our lives – in order to ensure the survival of the Jewish people and the furtherance of our Divine mission to transform the world into G‑d’s true home.1