After breaking the first set of Tablets of Ten Commandments because Israel worshipped the Golden Calf, Moses ascends Mount Sinai and spends forty days there again, praying for forgiveness for his people. On Yom Kippur day his petition for pardon was granted, and he returns to his people.

His first act on the next day was to "gather the entire congregation of Israel" and he told them the things that "G‑d commanded us to do." His first lesson was the observance of the Shabbat, singling out the creation of fire among all labor that was to be avoided on the Holy Day.

The guarantor of Israel's integrity is not its theology but its devotion to observance of mitzvot

Couldn't Moses have found something more ennobling to tell the Jews at that moment? They were filled with contrition for their idolatry. They had denied the basis of Judaism, belief in G‑d Himself, and now humbly sought to return to Him. It would have been more appropriate to lecture them on theology, expounding the concepts of ethical monotheism, stressing communion with the Creator through worship and meditation. This would be the logical way of vitiating the influence of the Calf-cult, of insuring against a repetition of backsliding.

Here we find the constant refrain of Torah, the theme that permeates Judaism, that "not expounding is important, but deed." Judaism's shield against assimilation, the guarantor of Israel's integrity, is not its theology but its devotion to observance of mitzvot, carrying out G‑d's will in daily living. Israel's ability to withstand the golden calves of all sorts is embodied in the tefillin and Shabbat and dietary laws that make Torah as much a part of life as eating and making a living. Devotion to Judaism can be developed only through using Judaism, living it. Throughout history we have seen that Jews who lived Judaism, lived; those who neglected its observance, despite earnestly professed warm feelings and love for its ideals, were ultimately lost to our people.