Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Ten Commandments - Why All the Pomp?

Something about the "Ten Commandments" event needs explaining.

The spectacular, awesome pomp surrounding the giving of the Ten Commandments led to what appears as an anticlimax - such simple rules as "Don't steal" and "Don't kill". Without these basic rules a community could hardly function properly, let alone thrive. After all, wouldn't plain common sense require them?

So what necessitated this amazing show of divine power as a backdrop for receiving society's most rudimentary moral standards? What sense does it make to introduce trivial news with fireworks? What's so big a deal about telling folks to "Respect your parents", or not to kill?

Our sages tell us, G-d thereby indicated that morality cannot be upheld unless it's coupled with belief in The Creator. Without belief in divinity behind the commandments, the resulting morality will necessarily be unjust. Leave up to man alone to devise judicious rules of behavior, and they will fail.

Look at history, and look around you; Man cannot compile a decent set of moral values based on his own intellect. In Sparta they reasoned it wise to eliminate weak or handicapped children, to ensure a strong army and progressive society. The Eskimos reasoned it wise to eliminate the sick and the elderly so they not be a drag on the rest of society. The Japanese believed it best never to surrender. The Germans figured it's okay to annihilate "inferior" human species. The Muslims think it's okay to kill, mutilate or torture anybody for the slightest grievance, and trash women.

Right here in America, abortion became legal decades ago and ever since, hundreds of thousands of innocent little people are murdered - until today, all because some are convinced as long as the baby did not breathe air, he/she isn't yet considered human; Or, because the bother to the unwed mother justifies the death. This is another example how man's arbitrary godless rationale (usually fostered by the "liberal" mindset) can lead to no less than a holocaust.

Only when man submits to The Almighty's wisdom and has fear of The Eye Above, acknowledging the awe and trepidation associated with any of His Commandments, can a society function fairly and lawfully.
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A story that happened:

Once an Israeli young man left to Thailand and became involved in their spirituality. He joined the Buddha priesthood to learn more. Over the years he advanced steadily.

His parents tried desperately to dissuade him, but to no avail. This young man dearly loved his aging grandmother. For her birthday, he succumbed to go back to Israel, but only for a week. During that week the parents invited rabbis to come and speak to him, to persuade him to stay home. But he remained adamant.

On Shabbos, he agreed to go to a Chabad shul with his father. They entered during a Talmud session where the subject was - can we rely on our minds to distinguish right from wrong. The rabbi taught, "No, we can't, because the love we have for ourselves blinds our reasoning." At the end of the lesson, the man and the rabbi got into an argument. He did not accept the rabbi's contention that man can easily pervert what's right to suit himself. The young man argued that the lofty ability of man's mind can determine right from wrong.

He returned to Thailand to pursue his career. He had one final exam upcoming in a few days to reach the highest rung in the Buddhist hierarchy. He and a few others were to take this exam on the peak of a high mountain they would climb.

During their climb up the mountain, the young man spotted a wallet up ahead. His instructor, walking before him, saw it too, picked it up, opened it and then pocketed it. Noticing the instructor's happy face, the man asked him when he expects to return it to its owner. The instructor said, "I won't. It was meant for me to have. Divine providence wanted to reward me and did so by giving me this opportunity to merit the lost wallet."

Suddenly the man remembered the argument he had with the rabbi of Chabad regarding reliance on one's own mind to determine right from wrong. He stayed at the peak only for a few moments then dashed down the hill and took the very first plane home to Israel.

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