Have you ever been so stressed that you wanted to punch a hole in the wall? A business concept called an “anger room” provides the opportunity to break useless junk in a controlled environment, purportedly to release stress and frustration.

Anger management is not my expertise, and Jewish law forbids wasteful destruction, but perhaps the notion that breaking stuff is a valid method of stress relief contributes to a common misconception of an episode in this week’s Parshah.

During the Revelation at Sinai, G‑d verbally communicated the Ten Commandments and then instructed Moes to ascend Mt. Sinai for forty days and nights to learn the entire Torah and receive the Tablets. These Tablets were entirely prepared by G‑d and were miraculous in many ways.

Meanwhile, after miscalculating the day of Moses’ expected return from the mountain, the Israelite camp was in turmoil. Mixed messages, raw nerves, and overall confusion resulted in the unfortunate creation of a Golden Calf, which was subsequently served by a number of Jews. The self-sacrifice of Chur (Moses’ nephew) and Aharon’s heroic attempts to quell the rebellion did not stop the disaster from happening. Just forty days after pledging allegiance to G‑d at Mt. Sinai, idolatry infiltrated the Israelite camp.

Moses descended Mt. Sinai holding the divine Tablets, when he beheld the shocking scene of Jews serving the Golden Calf. Moses became angry and smashed the Tablets at the foot of the mountain.

Far from being a reckless reaction due to an anger management problem, Moses’ instantaneous decision to break the Tablets is considered the most heroic and selfless act ever done by a Jewish leader.

The Talmud invokes the analogy of a king who flew into a rage upon hearing rumors of his bride’s unfaithfulness. A close friend hurriedly destroyed the marriage contract so there would be no legal recourse for the king to swiftly punish the queen under duress. His quick thinking allowed for a thorough investigation, which revealed that the rumors were untrue, and the king was forever grateful to his friend for intervening.

At Sinai, the Israelites made a verbal commitment to G‑d, and the Tablets represented the written contract of their exclusivity. Seeing the Golden Calf, Moses understood that so long as the written contract remained intact, G‑d’s retribution would be swift and complete. Moses sacrificed everything by destroying the most priceless objects in the world to save his nation from annihilation. His quick thinking paid off, and he ultimately elicited G‑d’s forgiveness for their sin—and we are here today to tell the story.

This is the profile of a true leader and a powerful lesson in ahavat yisrael, loving a fellow Jew. To effectively inspire others to embrace Torah study and mitzvah observance, one must first sincerely and unconditionally care for their physical wellbeing and safety—even at great personal sacrifice.