When did stop signs become suggestions? I learned from my father that it meant a full stop, although that was probably because he was a judge. I recall when he would give me driving lessons that I must come to a full stop, look left, look right, look left once again and then proceed if safe to do so. I still drive that way, not in homage to my father but because it is a habit, and frankly, the way some people drive, it is probably a good habit, much to the chagrin of the impatient driver behind me.
Have the Ten Commandments become the Ten Suggestions? We can agree that a society must have unifying laws that all will follow, as that would be part of the definition of a society. I would think that a high value on human life would demand “Thou Shalt not Murder”, but does everyone place the same high value that Judaism does on human life? What would drive a young man to bring weapons to a public school that he discards this commandment? Or a suicide murderer who believes that eternal reward awaits?
How about Shabbat? In today’s frenetic pace of life, I personally find it so physically and spiritually rewarding to have a day to slow down, disconnect from my electronic leash (aka iPhone), enjoy pleasant meals, study some Torah and talk to God. Don’t we all deserve a day where we put aside running errands, fixing something in the house, paying bills and answering e-mails and text messages? Do the Ten Commandments need a bit of refreshing, or at least a discussion on whether the values system of our ancestors applies to us?
The Torah portion this coming Shabbat, Yitro, describes God’s revelation to the Israelites at Mt. Sinai, with God gifting them the Ten Commandments. We will be discussing the values of each of the Ten Commandments, and now comes your homework assignment:
Is there a commandment that you think is missing, that speaks loudly to you, that perhaps should replace one of the ten? If yes, come to services this Shabbat and offer up your perspective, as we engage as a community in the ultimate Jewish communal activity – debate and discussion on the Torah. Be prepared to defend your suggestion, and why it might be worthy of the top ten. I look forward to a lively conversation.