Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Shavuot: Ramblings on the Ten Commandments
What is Shavuot? The literal answer is the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mt.Sinai to all the Jewish people.
One of the things I love most about Jewish holidays is that they always encourage study and contemplation. And this year is no different. Study leading up to Shavuot, and our attempt at taking part in the counting of the Omer has led to me looking at things in a new light, and yes, this rambling post about it...
This year I learned a lot of new things about Shavuot. Did you know it's said that all Jewish souls (yup, every single one, convert or not, born yet or not) were there at Mt. Sinai to hear and witness the giving of the ten commandments.
When you look at the ten commandments as written they are beautiful statements about our responsibility to ourselves. They don't talk about our rights, but our responsibilities to others. Do not murder, do not steal, do not commit idolatry. As those of us with youngins know, the only thing we can be responsible for is ourselves. Our responses to others, our minds and our actions. This starts with G-d. With the ten commandments showing us that despite everything else going on in the world, we are responsible only for ourselves.
It's interesting to note that the first commandment doesn't read as a commandment at all. I am the Lord Your G-d, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. That doesn't seem to be commanding me to do anything at all.
This year I've come to a new understanding of the first commandment- a point of reference upon which to build all the other commandments. Depending upon where you stand in your faith (and believe me, I realize this could be a different answer today than yesterday) the belief of G-d as an almighty and legitimate force upon which you should rest your shoulders can be daunting. I haven't seen any major miracles in my life- maybe you have been blessed differently. But by starting out referring to a miracle that G-d did that was witnessed by millions of people you start listening with a different ear.
The first step then, in the 10 commandments, is to acknowledge the awesomeness, the power and the authority to command.
Have you looked at the ten commandments in a new way this year? Has somethings sparked your interest that didn't seem as relevant last year.