So my father used to teach me that the Ten Commandments were divided with the first five being between man and G-d (e.g. “thou shalt not take the name of the L-rd, thy G-d, in vain”) and the second five being between man and man (e.g. “thou shalt not Kill”).
Note: The fifth one of “Honor they mother and father” is viewed as between man and G-d, since we honor our parents as partners with G-d in our creation and upbringing.
My father said well that some people keep the first five and some the second, but very few keep both sets.
I am aware of many examples of this from the “religious” Rabbis and Priests who sickeningly molest children to “unreligious” people who give charitably and do good deeds to others in countless of ways.
I do not know why most people cannot be both faithful to G-d and good to other people–are these somehow mutually exclusive in people’s minds? Is it somehow blasphemous to both worship G-d and genuinely respect and care for our fellow humans?
Perhaps, some think that if they are close to G-d, then other people are sort of besides the point, while others believe that if they act kindly to their fellow “man”, then they will be considered righteous in G-d’s eyes anyway.
The funny thing is that both–the ones that follow the laws having to do with G-d and those having to do with other people–seem to think that they are the “truly” righteous ones.
Today, I saw a an event that reminded me of this whole lesson and spiritual question, as follows:
A car pulls up in front of the house of worship and in the driving lane, just stops and double parks, even though, right there–and even closer yet to the house of worship–is an empty oversized space to just pull into.
The driver gets out and his wife gets out on the other side.
The car behind him beeps to let them know they are waiting to pass.
The man throws his hand up in a gesture of “too bad” and proceeds to escort his wife into the house of worship–all the while leaving his car blocking the driveway and the car behind him.
After about 5 minutes, the first driver finally comes back to move his car.
The second driver–of the car that has been waiting–goes up to driver of the first car and asks why he just left his car in the driving lane and didn’t even bother to pull over.
The first driver says that his wife can’t walk well and he wanted to escort her into the house of worship, and so the other car could wait until he returned.
The second driver is startled by this and says “but you saw I was behind you waiting and wanted to get in with my family to pray as well–why couldn’t you either circle back around or pull into the empty spot right there at the entrance?”
The first driver says, “well, you were the only other car behind me.”
By this time the second driver is clearly annoyed and says, “but I am a human being too!”
He continues clearly amazed at the callousness of the first and says, “how is it that you go to the house of worship, but you don’t care about another human being–how can you be so selfish?
The first driver raises his hand and flips it again indicating that he just didn’t care –going full circle to how this event began when he first stopped his car–and then he simply says as a matter of fact and sort of sarcastically “good day” and just walks away.
What an encounter with the first driver on his way to worship G-d, yet completely callous to his fellow human being waiting to do the same–he was following the first five commandments, but brushing aside the second five.
I wish for the day that people could embrace both sets of commandments! So that faith and decency could coexist, rather than battle in the hearts and soul of humans.
What a better world it could be…
(Source photo: here)