Standing there, looking down from Mount Sinai, Moses had to make a decision.

In his hands, he held two tablets, the work of G‑d, engraved by G‑d with His own words. No objects more precious than these two stone tablets had ever materialized in this universe.

Below, he beheld his people in the debauchery of their sin, worshipping a golden calf only forty days after hearing from G‑d Himself, “You shall have no other gods.”

If Moses would hold onto the tablets, he would have to deliver them, and then, he knew, none of those who had any involvement with the golden calf would have a chance of survival. He was their leader, their shepherd.

Yet it was to receive the Torah that he had liberated the people from Egypt and brought them here. It was to receive the Torah that he had ascended the mountain and lived as a heavenly being, without food, water or sleep, for 40 days and 40 nights. For Moses, these two tablets lay at the very essence of his being.

And now, Moses had to decide: Are the people here to keep the Torah, or is the Torah here to liberate the souls of the people?

So he shattered the tablets. And he saved the people.

And with that, Moses established forever the relationship between the Torah and the people.

Likutei Sichot vol. 34, pp. 217-224. See also ibid vol. 21, pp. 173-180.