Sunday, August 08, 2010

Divine Sanction of Simple Laws

The spectacularly awesome pomp that accompanied the presentation of the Ten Commandments led to what appears at first glance as an anticlimax - such simple rules as "Don't steal" and "Don't kill". Without such rules a community could not exist or function, let alone thrive, so what necessitated this amazing show of divine power as a backdrop for receiving a society's most basic moral standards? Wouldn't just plain common sense require them?

Our sages explain that G-d thereby demonstrated that morality cannot be upheld unless belief in The Creator is coupled with it. Without belief in divine commandments, the resulting morality cannot sustain itself and is inherently unjust.

Man cannot compile a sustainable set of moral values using his own intellect. World history is littered with nations that rose and fell because of their corrupt moral codes. Sparta reasoned it wise to eliminate weak or handicapped children to ensure a powerful army and healthy society. Eskimos eliminated their elderly and sick so these not be a drain on the rest of them. The Germans figured it appropriate to erase from existence all "inferior" human species. The once-mighty Soviet Union reasoned that atheism was paramount, because religion only squanders human resources. There were moral codes that incorporated maltreatment of women, slavery, perverted sexuality, human sacrifices, population growth restrictions, etc., all emanating from and relying on the "wisdom" of man.

Just to give another example of non-Torah "wisdom" - the Guardian on Aug 4/10 reported that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said that music is “not compatible” with the values of the Islamic republic, and should not be practised or taught in the country.

Each of these societies could have rationally defended their morality. So how do we know they were wrong; How can we conclude for sure they were immoral, frightening and even criminal?

Because we have the one solid foundation of truth to rely on - the Torah. In Torah, G-d gives us the truly moral codes, and based on these we know what's right and what's wrong, what's virtuous and what's not.

Any society that fails to ground its morality in belief of The Creator is likely to adopt standards of cruelty and murder. Or, they can even swing in the opposite direction, over-sympathising with some of its populace at the expense of others. This latter phenomenon we witness in Israel today where a secular government deals favorably with its Arab citizens and Arab neighbors at the expense of its religious Jewish nationalists. They actually prefer the likes of murderers and terrorists, bereft of the image of G-d, over their own brethren. This is what can happen when morality relies on human intellect that's not anchored in the word of G-d.

So why do we need an overwhelming show of divine revelation for something as simple as "Don't steal"? Because the human mind can be deceitful and tricky; It can easily rationalize the means to its intended end. It'll figure out how theft is not really stealing, just a short-term loan. It might reason that we an take a little bit from the rich for the benefit of the poor. Maybe the rich wouldn't miss it in the first place. Maybe it's stealing only if he discovers it's missing. The cache of excuses is endless.

This is why also the simple rules of "Don't kill" and "Don't steal" were delivered under a compelling divine aura. People had to know these "simple" rules carry the same significance and demand the same zeal as intricate commandments. There should be no room for intellectual interference. These simple commandments hold the same weight as all the others. Submission to the yoke of heaven tolerates no biases. All laws, no matter how profound or how superficial, are divinely inspired and, as such, define the rules of morality.


  1. .

    Have you read the Constitution of USA? It is clear concise and requires no Bible, Torah, or Koran.

    It is nice to live in a free open secular world.

    Ema Nymton
    Remember the "Burn The Confederate Flag Day" 12 Sep 10.

  2. Ema, perhaps I failed to make myself clear enough.

    Ema, if I'm not mistaken, the morality we live by, such as Don't kill or steal, has no such mention in the Constitution. And that very document invokes the name of G-d.

    So try as you might to divorce yourself of this Torah-based morality, count yourself lucky you don't live in a country that lives by the Shariah morality, for example. This country however, DOES abide by this Torah code, whether they know it or not, and, like I said, count yourself lucky. You could have been born and raised and living in Pakistan, India, Sudan, ... know what I mean?