Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Is the 10th Commandment Really a Dead Issue Today?

Nadene Goldfoot
I was watching  the History2 channel this afternoon which presented a very interesting program on the 10 Commandments and their affect throughout history and into our American law.  Commentors were a Christian minister,  a Muslim lady, and Alan Dershowitz, lawyer and spokesman for the Jewish side of the program, one of my favorite historians and advocate for Israel.

Lo, to my surprise they came to "Thou shalt not covet," and Alan professed that this was not a necessary one for the USA anymore as everyone covets and the economy depends on it.  I was dumbfounded!  Perhaps he was playing the Devil's advocate here.  I know lawyers love a debate.

The first 5 Commandments are about man's duties to G-d.  The next 5 Commandments are about his responsibilities to his fellow-man.  The importance of the 10th  has been emphasized by rabbis and medieval Jewish philosophers unto this day, as this TV program has just done.

This 10th commandment, of  not to covet means to wish for something enviously; to desire what belongs to another, inordinately or culpably; to feel inordinate desire for what belongs to another.  This leads to stealing or starting a war even in the most primitive of societies, of wanting  something that belongs to another.  Usually it's land.  Wasn't this the reason Germany attacked Poland?

Frankly, I can deduce that this is exactly what the Palestinians are doing to Israel.  They want East Jerusalem as their capital, which is part of the whole city of Jerusalem; Israel's capital.  In 1010 BCE, Jerusalem, the capital of Judah,  was built up by King David  and was also the major city of King Solomon, his son, who built the Temple there..  Jews have prayed every day that they would lose their right hand if they ever forgot Jerusalem (meaning their connection to it and their 3,000 year Jewish history).

Israel has only become meaningful to the Palestinians since 1967 when they lost the war in a mass attack with 8 of the neighboring countries.  Like a pack of dogs against a rabbit, they thought they couldn't lose, but they did in 6 days.  Jordan had stolen Judea (Roman spelling for Judah) , Samaria and East Jerusalem in 1948, making it a divided city until 1968, as it was promised to be part of the Jewish Homeland.  

A few months ago the Palestinians  even talked Obama into pressing for a 1967 line for Israel to fall back to, which would mean losing the Western Wall in Jerusalem along with the eastern section, and what fell into Israel's hands in 1967 which the Palestinians want for their Palestine.  It's not that Israel is against a Palestine, but certainly is against it being Judenrein-an apartheid state containing no Jews, as Jews already live there.  .  In their coveting land belonging to Israel, the Palestinians refuse to recognize Israel as a state. So land is one of the first basic things coveted by man.

Coveting is not the same thing as having ambition and getting ahead in life and wanting good things for your family.  Parents like to see their children as  successful and happy people.  It builds up pride in the parents as the children are a reflection of themselves.  "That is my son the doctor!" is an old Jewish joke.  There is the down side as well if they are frustrated from unrealized ambition, the rat race and effort to keep up with the Joneses.  Balance and proportion are important along with teaching that we don't need everything our neighbor has, and that happiness comes from fulfillment of our own accomplishments.  If we forget to teach our children to not covet our neighbor's achievements, whether it be their body, hair, or financial accomplishments, we are not good parents.  Then how are they ever going to honor us?  I think this is where the Hippies, the flower children of the 60's broke off from their parents.  Values were not taught, and they start right with the 10 Commandments.

As for understanding the meaning of the 10 Commandments, the Torah was a law for all times, "throughout your generations, a statute forever."  That doesn't suggest we can pick and choose them.  All are considered important.  Our conditions and circumstances can change, but they are meaningful and relevant to those who delve into them and seek to understand them.  Moses said 3,200 years ago in his final parting message when he pleaded with his people that it was up to us!  Given the will and the conviction, the desire and the faith to do it--it can be done.

"Surely this Instruction, which I enjoin upon you this day; it is not too hard for you, neither is it beyond reach.  It is not in the heavens, that you should say:  "Who among us can go up to the heavens and bring it to us, and impart it to us, that we may observe it?  Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, "Who among us can cross to the other side of the sea, and bring it to us, and impart it to us that we may observe it?"  No, the thing is very close to you in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it.  (Deut.30:11-14) 

Resource: History 2 channel:  H2:  Ten Commandments. Dec. 25, 2012, 12:00pm, 6:00pm
What's the real story behind history's most famous written document? Our 2-hour special examines the… TVPG | CC
What Does Judaism Say About...? by Louis Jacobs, on Ambition, page 21
To Be a Jew-a Guide to Jewish Observance in Contemporary Life by Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin 
The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia on Mitzvas. (10 Commandments) 

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