Sunday, February 11, 2007

Ten Commandments - How do you stack up?

This past Shabbos at synagogues throughout the world Jews stood and listened as the Ten Commandments were read from this week's Torah portion: Yisro. The fact that it was a collective revelation given by God to the Children of Israel at Sinai over 3,000 years ago is not merely a miraculous and unique experience for mankind, but perhaps also the most defining moment of all for the Jewish nation.

Of course, as we all know, the wonder and splendor of this collective revelation wore off quickly, as the Jews soon after panicked after Moshe ascended to Sinai to receive the entirety of the Torah from God and hadn't returned. In his absence the Jews were so shaken that they turned to the hedonism and idol worship that had been so prevalent back in Egypt before the Exodus.

What does this tell us? It tells us that we are innately quick to lose faith in what we can't see, smell, taste, touch, or hear. We seemingly require constant interaction with or from the Source at all times to maintain our faith, even in this extreme case when God's revelation was given just 40 days earlier!

Therefore, one of the most significant Torah lessons we can take from this sequence of events is how critical it is to stay connected with Torah and our obligations on a daily basis. If we could stray just 40 days after God Himself speaks to us, how long would it take for us to stray today, when God's presence is far more hidden and the temptations to lead a Godless and meaningless life screams on every billboard, every television program, every magazine and every newspaper that we encounter?

The fact is, we must take Torah's lesson of the Ten Commandments revelation and subsequent fall to debauchery seriously enough to realize that because we are so weak and vulnerable when left on our own we need to cling to His words and His truth daily lest we get helplessly swept away in an ocean of internet porn and reality TV.

With that in mind, I will post the only Top Ten List that really matters. See how well you are stacking up and where you are coming up short.

  1. I am God, your God, Who has taken you out of Egypt.
  2. You shall not recognize the gods of others before me. You shall not make a carved image, nor any likeness of that which is in the heavens above or the earth below or in the water beneath.
  3. You shall not take the name of God your God in vain.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day and sanctify it
  5. Honor your father and mother
  6. You shall not murder
  7. You shall not commit adultery
  8. You shall not steal
  9. You shall not bear false witness
  10. You shall not covet



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