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The Ten Commandments – More Relevant Than Ever

חג שבועות

* Translated by Janine Muller Sherr

As we approach the holiday of Shavuot, here is a powerful idea that is more consequential than any political debate:

A Jewish student from MIT visiting Israel told me, after describing the hypocritical protests on behalf of Hamas that took place on her campus: “What our world needs the most now is faith, vision, and a clear moral compass.”

This student is absolutely correct, and that is precisely the message of Shavuot. In the shameful and unforgettable hearing in front of the American Congress several months ago, three college presidents could not bring themselves to assert that the call for genocide of the Jewish people was against the “moral code” of their respective institutions.

So here is the definitive moral code as communicated by God in the Ten Commandments that we read on Shavuot:

“You shall not murder!” This year, this command echoes louder than ever. Do not murder, but also do not support a culture defined by murder and death.  Do not give these people international support and honor, and do not try to appease them. Members of the UN who stood for a moment of silence in memory of the Iranian president and master terrorist, Raisi, and ambassadors from Western countries who stood in tribute when the Iranian flag was lowered to half-mast, have clearly not internalized the meaning of these words.

Our world is confused; it has difficulty distinguishing between good and evil. And to counter this moral confusion, we must stand up and reaffirm the moral foundation of the word. There is truth and there are lies.

“I am the Lord your God who has taken you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery.” There is a God and He plays an active role in history, ensuring that, ultimately, everything will be resolved for the good.

“You shall not take the Name of the Lord, your God, in vain.”
How horrifying that our enemies cry out, “Allah Akbar,” God is great, when committing the most heinous crimes against humanity: slaughtering babies, elderly, men and women in the “name of God.”

The Ten Commandments also establish the principles of a moral society, in which there are clear limits and each person is recognized as being created in the image of God.
“Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.”
“Honor your father and your mother.”
“You shall not commit adultery.”
“You shall not steal.”
“You shall not covet.”

There is even a command addressing our system of justice: “You shall not bear false witness against your fellow.”  Even more so today, in a time of moral relativity, when every belief is open to subjective interpretation, it is critical to uphold justice. Sadly, we know this has not been happening at the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

Shavuot falls out on Tuesday night and Wednesday in Israel and another additional day in the Diaspora, the Ten Commandments will be read aloud in synagogues around the world. It is customary to bring children of all ages to the synagogue to listen for they will be responsible for carrying its message to the next generation.

Throughout our history, while living under the tyrannical Roman Empire, the murderous Crusaders, and even under the vicious Communist and Nazi regimes, we have always read the Ten Commandments on Shavuot. And today, surrounded by fanatical Islam, on the one side, and a morally-confused West on the other, we must continue to remind the world of these eternal truths.

Shavuot calls on us not to accept the world the way it is, but to strive to make it better, and to transform ourselves in the process.

Chag Sameach.


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