Friday, August 14, 2020 -
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The Ten Suggestions?

Democracy and the rule of law are wonderful until you get a parking ticket. Then you wish the enforcers were less competent, that democracy did not work so well. It’s like this with the Torah. It is wonderful — until it makes a demand. Yet, much as we grumble over the parking enforcers, we all know that without the rule of law we would be doomed to dictatorship and oppression. The Torah, whose significance we mark on the upcoming holiday of Shavuot, becomes a gift to the extent we embrace it. It’s not Ten Suggestions.” It’s “The Ten Commandments.”

There’s an oddity about the Torah. All religious systems have rituals and requirements and most religions promote compassion and other worthy humane goals. The Torah has somethings else, which, by comparison, is odd: an intellectual component. The Torah says: It is a commandment to study me! The Torah says: I have narrative, law, poetry, commentary, rhetoric. I have heroes, distinctions, anti-heroes, ethics — sukkahs, role models, travelogues. Delve into me!

Once this unique aspect of the Torah is recognized and engaged in, the demand and the command rise to the level of pure gift and indispensable life force. As we mark Shavuot this Monday and Tuesday, we might beneficially contemplate and analyze the Torah itself. Just a suggestion…

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