Today, I heard a fascinating speech from Rabbi Haim Ovadia of Magen David Synagogue that put a beautiful new perspective on the Ten Commandments.
He explained how the commandments are not just commandments, but actually a covenant between G-d and mankind.
G-d gave man gifts of:
1) FREEDOM and choice (He is the L-rd who brought you out of bondage)
2) DIVINITY, a direct spiritual connection (Thou shalt have no idols)
3) PRAYER, heartfelt (Thou shalt not take G-d’s name in vain)
4) SABBATH (On the seventh day thou shalt do no work)
5) FAMILY (Honor thy father and mother).
In turn, G-d asks that we appreciate His gifts to us, and not take from others what isn’t ours:
1) LIFE (Don’t murder)
2) Another Man’s WIFE (Don’t commit adultery)
3) THINGS (Don’t steal)
4) DUE PROCESS/JUSTICE (Don’t bear false witness)
5) Someone else’s BLESSINGS (Don’t covet, and essentially bring an “evil eye” on them)
This interpretation is sort of the ah-ha in the Ten Commandments, which otherwise some would say, “what’s so novel or special about G-d telling us not to do these bad things–wouldn’t we already know (many of) these ourselves?”
But what is novel here is that the Ten Commandments is a whole philosophy of thinking about life, one where we appreciate G-d’s many gifts to us, but where we control our animal instincts and in turn act spiritually.
Thank you G-d for the many wonderful gifts, and for giving us the opportunity to elevate ourselves and be satisfied with our lot in life.
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)