Every issue that comes up today no matter what the topic is, always seems to be dealing with the symptoms and rarely the root. Taking a pill for a headache is like going to your car mechanic because a warning light on the dashboard is lit. He opens the hood, takes a scissor and cuts the wire connected to the dashboard light. Poof…no more problem; the light is out. Silly isn’t it? Yet that is what we are constantly doing…dealing with the symptoms but rarely searching for the root of the problem.

We are bombarded daily with problem after problem, trouble after trouble in every walk of life. I recently watched a video about how children from a certain religion are being taught to hate and kill instead of being allowed to experience the innocence of childhood.  The person speaking was raising money to make a movie covering this topic and hoping that by showing it to the world, people will change.  Can people change just because we tell them that what they are doing is wrong? If we take a young man who is a petty thief at heart and educate him will he not become a more sophisticated thief? Of course education is important but it is not only what is needed; mankind needs a change of heart.

We can’t know where we are going until we know where we come from.

So where do we begin.  The Scriptures tell the story of Adam and Eve. Whether we believe it or not, whether it happened or not, is not the issue; it is a great story.  They are said to be the father and mother of all humanity and they had two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain killed his brother in a jealous rage and hid the fact that he did it.  These were the first two children born on this earth! Their parents had also tried to hide what they had done after disobeying the one simple rule that they had been given… “Do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for on that day you will die”.  Eve was tempted with knowledge and the opportunity to be like God and she jumped at it.  Adam stood by but said nothing; instead he allowed Eve to eat and he ate with her! Their disobedience brought curses upon mankind.  Woman would give birth in pain and she would now have to lower her position and submit to man; man would work by the sweat of his brow but the earth would not give its fruit up easily to him because it too was cursed.

Most religions promise that they hold the key to reversing these curses upon mankind. All we need to do is follow their guidelines, doctrines and dogmas and we will be saved from the consequences of our sins.  If that is true than why does it seem that mankind has not evolved much from that first family?  What if there really is another way, the true hope for humanity?

Let’s begin with an event that occurred at Mount Sinai after the people of Israel left Egypt to become a free people. This is written about in Exodus 19:18 -20” “And the entire Mount Sinai smoked because the LORD had descended upon it in fire, and its smoke ascended like the smoke of the kiln, and the entire mountain quaked violently.The sound of the shofar grew increasingly stronger; Moses would speak and God would answer him with a voice.The LORD descended upon Mount Sinai, to the peak of the mountain, and the LORD summoned Moses to the peak of the mountain, and Moses ascended.1

There is enough evidence today to prove that this was indeed something that took place in history whether people choose to believe it or not.  If we “Google” where is the Real Mount Sinai, Jebel El Lawz, the Mountain of the Law comes up in Saudi Arabia. The mountain there is charred at the top according to the verses in Exodus. There is other evidence that has been discovered there that demonstrates the veracity of this claim, far more than the Mt. Sinai that has been accepted by most religions for so long.  We might ask ourselves why this area in Saudia Arabia is cordoned off from the public.

Once we are open to examining the fact that this event could have happened in history and that the Ten Commandments do in fact exist, the next step is to question whether they were given to us by a higher intelligence or was Moses just an extremely intelligent and educated man who went up Mount Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights and carved these tablets by himself.  Most people believe the latter however this was a moment in history unlike any other in any other culture, time or place.  Some of us hold to the understanding that the Creator entered time and handed to Moses the principles by which humanity would be able to live in peace and harmony. They were carved by spiritual “hands” on two tablets and according to Exodus 24: 4 the remaining words of the Creator known as Torah were then written down by Moses for posterity… 4 Moses put all the LORD’s words into writing, and early next morning he built an altar at the foot of the mountain, with twelve standing-stones for the twelve tribes of Israel.

Here are these Ten Commandments:

Exodus Chapter 20 שְׁמוֹת

א  וַיְדַבֵּר אֱלֹהִים, אֵת כָּל-הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה לֵאמֹר.  1 And God spoke all these words, saying: 
ב  אָנֹכִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתִיךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים:  לֹא-יִהְיֶה לְךָ אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים, עַל-פָּנָי. 2 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.  (I)
ג  לֹא-תַעֲשֶׂה לְךָ פֶסֶל, וְכָל-תְּמוּנָה, אֲשֶׁר בַּשָּׁמַיִם מִמַּעַל, וַאֲשֶׁר בָּאָרֶץ מִתָּחַת–וַאֲשֶׁר בַּמַּיִם, מִתַּחַת לָאָרֶץ. 3 You shall not make for yourself a graven image, nor any manner of likeness, of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;
ד  לֹא-תִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה לָהֶם, וְלֹא תָעָבְדֵם:  כִּי אָנֹכִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, אֵל קַנָּא–פֹּקֵד עֲו‍ֹן אָבֹת עַל-בָּנִים עַל-שִׁלֵּשִׁים וְעַל-רִבֵּעִים, לְשֹׂנְאָי. 4 you shall not bow down to them, nor serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me;
ה  וְעֹשֶׂה חֶסֶד, לַאֲלָפִים–לְאֹהֲבַי, וּלְשֹׁמְרֵי מִצְו‍ֹתָי.  5 and showing mercy to the thousandth generation of them that love Me and keep My commandments. (II)
ו  לֹא תִשָּׂא אֶת-שֵׁם-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, לַשָּׁוְא:  כִּי לֹא יְנַקֶּה יְהוָה, אֵת אֲשֶׁר-יִשָּׂא אֶת-שְׁמוֹ לַשָּׁוְא.  6 You shalt not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. (III) 
ז  זָכוֹר אֶת-יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת, לְקַדְּשׁוֹ. 7 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
ח  שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תַּעֲבֹד, וְעָשִׂיתָ כָּל-מְלַאכְתֶּךָ. 8 Six days shall you labor, and do all your work;
ט  וְיוֹם, הַשְּׁבִיעִי–שַׁבָּת, לַיהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ:  לֹא-תַעֲשֶׂה כָל-מְלָאכָה אַתָּה וּבִנְךָ וּבִתֶּךָ, עַבְדְּךָ וַאֲמָתְךָ וּבְהֶמְתֶּךָ, וְגֵרְךָ, אֲשֶׁר בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ. 9 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God, in it you shall not do any manner of work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your man-servant, nor your maid-servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates;
י  כִּי שֵׁשֶׁת-יָמִים עָשָׂה יְהוָה אֶת-הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת-הָאָרֶץ, אֶת-הַיָּם וְאֶת-כָּל-אֲשֶׁר-בָּם, וַיָּנַח, בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי; עַל-כֵּן, בֵּרַךְ יְהוָה אֶת-יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת–וַיְקַדְּשֵׁהוּ.  10 for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.  (IV)
יא  כַּבֵּד אֶת-אָבִיךָ, וְאֶת-אִמֶּךָ–לְמַעַן, יַאֲרִכוּן יָמֶיךָ, עַל הָאֲדָמָה, אֲשֶׁר-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לָךְ.    11 Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God gives you.   (V)
יב  לֹא תִרְצָח,    לֹא תִנְאָף;    לֹא תִגְנֹב,     לֹא-תַעֲנֶה בְרֵעֲךָ עֵד שָׁקֶר.     12 You shall not murder. (VI) You shall not commit adultery. (VII) You shall not steal. (VIII)   You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. (IX) 
יג  לֹא תַחְמֹד, בֵּית רֵעֶךָ;  {ס}  לֹא-תַחְמֹד אֵשֶׁת רֵעֶךָ, וְעַבְדּוֹ וַאֲמָתוֹ וְשׁוֹרוֹ וַחֲמֹרוֹ, וְכֹל, אֲשֶׁר לְרֵעֶךָ.  13 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor any thing that is your neighbor’s. (X)

They aren’t very complicated.  The people standing at the base of Mount Sinai were simple people. They didn’t have PhDs or degrees in Theology.  They were not all Orthodox Jews rather they consisted of a mixed multitude of Israelites and Gentiles who were thrown out of Egypt whether they wanted to leave or not.  They all were in one accord when they cried out…all that the LORD has said we will do.

Knowing the Words is not enough….the challenge for us is obeying and living them daily.

The Ten Commandments were divided into three parts by our sages.  The first three Commandments are regarded as Mitzvot and are directed toward our relationship with the Creator.  The second two Commandments (four and five) are Chukkim for which there is no rational explanation but are simply to be accepted to be for our own good. They concern themselves with love and regard for ourselves. The last five Commandments are Mishpatim, regulations which allow us to have love and respect toward our neighbor.

In the first three, the Mitzvoth, the Almighty begins by introducing Himself to us as being the One who brought the Hebrews out of Egypt, out of slavery. He is demonstrating that He was an active participant in their lives and that He is the only true God for all peoples.  We are not to replace Him with any other gods. In those days, humanity had their local deities which were localized to their own territories. We are not to make any images of Him, to bow down to them nor are we to use His Name in any way we please.  The Creator was showing the people that He did not have the form or shape of man or animal and was not limited to any locality. His Name represented all the characteristics through which he would reveal Himself to us and He could not be limited to man’s ideas of Him.  We were simply not to put words in His mouth.

Commandments four and five about the Sabbath and honoring our parents point to our personal well-being.  The people were now set free from slavery during which time they had no option to choose anything for themselves. Now they, their servants, their foreigners and their animals would be able rest on one day. Religions have gone to town with this one as far as the rules and regulations that have emerged about the day. The day is to be set apart to remember what He did for us and to not work or earn a salary on that day. It is written: לֹא-תַעֲשֶׂה כָל-מְלָאכָה. Lo taaseh kol m’lachah.  This word m’lachah brings the idea of remuneration for service rendered.  The Creator knew that our nature is to work seven days a week which is not healthy for us or anyone or anything.  Honoring our parents pictures the honoring of the Creator. If we cannot honor them, we will not honor Him.  Today we see how little honor there is for any authority figure among our youth causing the destruction to the fabric of our society.

The last five relate to honoring our neighbor.  If we truly love our neighbors, we will not steal from them, murder them, commit adultery with their wives, destroy their characters by speaking evil of them and we will not be jealous of anything they have.  We are to love them as we love ourselves.  When we love ourselves it means that we accept ourselves for who the Creator made us to be and we are not constantly trying to be someone else.  Love in the Hebrew has a different connotation from the western languages. In the Hebrew it involves intention and loyalty. If we cannot love ourselves, how then can we love our neighbor and our God? 

All these principles are being challenged in this day and age.  Humanity is shaking its fist at the Creator stating that it has a better way.  Look around, is man’s better way working? Imagine if we were able to simply keep these ten principles and teach others to do the same, what a different world it would be.  There is so much more to teach about them but this is a good beginning.  May each of us take responsibility for our own behavior and use these as a guide for everything we do and say. We, the people of Israel, and all those who come under the banner of the God of Israel, were called to be a light to the nations.  As a light we are called to be guardians of the Torah, Shomer Torah.  When we are being less than that, we have to suffer the consequences.  When we said, “all that you say, we will do” and we do not do it, there are consequences. It takes courage to stand up for the Truth of Torah.  Few want to hear it today and yet it is the only solution that there is for a very sick world. It is never too late to do teshuva…turn back to the Creator.

Shema Israel, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad.