The Ten Commandments: A Humble Interpretation

a depiction of the 10 Commandments in stone

In parsha Yitro we see the commandments for the first time, the tablets will appear later. It’s almost as if G!d does not trust us to have the good judgment to form a just and flourishing society. It is as if G!d does not have faith in our capacity for good, even in our capacity for self-preservation. I wish I could argue with His (Their) reasoning.

The 10 Commandments – a humble interpretation:

  1. The first commandment is a simple line, perhaps by way of introduction. I am your G!d. We have met before; perhaps you do not recognize me in the current state of things.
  2. Once you assign to me a likeness your imaginations will be spent. Do not see me as any one thing, an entity fixed in form, never changing. If I cannot grow how will you develop? Every breath is an opening, every blunder an occasion for new wisdom.
  3. Remember the power your words carry. Your language, your tone and volume can show love, respect and concern or they can cut like a knife. Speak in ways you wish to be spoken to.
  4. Every minute can’t be taken. There must be times of stillness and silence, times of contemplation. There can be no creation, no movement from a mistaken path without consideration. Breathe.
  1. What does it mean to honor another? Is it to hold them up as an ideal that no person, perhaps no god can manage? Perhaps it is to hold all of them, see the truth of their strengths, grieve their failings, embrace it all and see them as no more, no less.
  2. I wish I could say that this is common sense, yet every day I see life taken, in exchange for nothing, and a bit of humanity once more slips away. I grieve for your losses.
  3. Know when and why to say yes and when to say no. Let it be known when you have given your word and when your word must be broken.
  4. Ask yourself, what is my hunger, a need or a longing that leads to more longing? Learn the difference – care for both.
  5. Watch your tongue. It can be the messenger of kindness and wisdom or it can be the herald of great pain.  Speak what you know to be considerate and true. Especially when it concerns another.
  6. It is easy to desire what isn’t yours and assume it will buy you the happiness and satisfaction you desire. The outside looking in misleads repeatedly.

I hope that you will consider these advisements with care. Given that it is the nature of human minds to wander, they may all bear repeating, again and again.

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