By: Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui
On the 6th and 7th of the month of Sivan, we celebrate the second of the three major Jewish Holidays, – Shavuot, a day when 3323 years ago in the presence of the entire nation, G-d gave us the Ten Commandments.
The Bible says, “And they camped in the desert.” In the ownerless wilderness was the 5 books of Moses given to the people of Israel. For if it were given in the Land of Israel, the residents of the Land of Israel would say, “It is ours”; and if it were given in some other place, the residents of that place would say, “It is ours.” Therefore it was given in the wilderness, so that anyone who wishes to acquire it may acquire it.
The Bible further states, “And all the people saw the voices.” They saw what is ordinarily heard and they heard what is ordinarily seen. As physical beings, we “see” physical reality. On the other hand, G-dliness and spirituality is only something that is “heard”–it can be discussed, perhaps even understood to some extent, but not experienced firsthand.
At the revelation at Sinai, we saw what is ordinarily heard–we experienced the divine as an immediate, tangible reality. On the other hand, what is ordinarily “seen” –the material world–was something merely “heard,” to be accepted or rejected at will. The same is also today. When a person applies himself to study and absorb the Bible in its true spirit, G-dliness becomes his true reality and the physical world with all its limitations, distances itself from this person.
The Ten Commandments
1. “I am the Lord your G-d, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
2. “You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, nor any manner of likeness of anything that is in heaven above, that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them, nor serve them. For I the Lord your G-d am a jealous G-d, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children of the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; and showing mercy unto the thousandth generation of them that love Me and keep My commandments.
3. “You shall not take the name of the Lord your G-d in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain.
4. “Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work; but the seventh day is a Sabbath unto the Lord your G-d. On it you shall not do any manner of work — you, your son, your daughter, your man-servant, your maid-servant, your cattle, and your stranger that is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested on the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath Day, and hallowed it.
5. “Honor your father and mother, so that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your G-d gives you.
6. “You shall not murder.
7. “You shall not commit adultery.
8. “You shall not steal.
9. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
10. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, his manservant, his maid-servant, his ox, his ass, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”
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