Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
Why is this Shabbat especially important? Think about all the “fake news” we hear all year long about Judaism: Distorted headlines, partial quotes, exaggerations, as well as elevating the importance of marginal extremist views. The parasha we read this Shabbat reminds us of what is essential. At the heart of the parasha we read about gathering as a united people at the foot of Mount Sinai. The giving of the Torah was also the giving of our identity, whose core is the Ten Commandments. What an unfathomable gap exists between the cacophony of fake news and this holiest of historical events! Our receiving of the Torah became the foundation of our culture and this same Torah would inspire the entire world.
The Torah came with a revolutionary message: From now on, society would be based not upon slavery or false gods, not upon on lies or deception, but upon freedom. This freedom, represented by the Exodus from Egypt, was both physical and spiritual. Freedom from tyrannical human authority; freedom to be servants of the one true G-d. Society would be based on the commandments of “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” “You shall not commit adultery,” and on the obligation to demonstrably honor your father and mother and the Sabbath day. No one uploads the contents of the Ten Commandments in order to get more “likes” on Facebook. However, once a year we are given the opportunity to be reminded of what is essential and what it not, and of whom we really are.