Let the Ten Commandments command your
imagination … and enrich your life.
When the Holy One gave the Torah, no bird
chirped, no fowl flew, no ox lowed, not one angel stirred its
wing or sang its song. The sea did not roar, creatures did not
speak—the whole world was hushed into breathless silence;
it was then that the voice went forth: “I am the Lord
—Exodus Rabba 29:9
Even people who claim not to be
“religious” will generally maintain that they do
observe the Ten Commandments. Why is it that these ten
statements, thousands of years old, continue to have such a
special hold on us?
Here, twelve outstanding spiritual leaders
from across the spectrum of Jewish thought bring us to the life
and soul of the Ten Commandments’ unusual power. In
voices that are personal and diverse, they help us take a
closer look at the ten utterances that not only touch every
aspect of our lives, but also present each of us with a
Eugene B. Borowitz Leonard Fein
Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer Laura Geller
Lawrence A. Hoffman Menachem Kellner Peter S.
Knobel Richard N. Levy Zalman M.
Schachter-Shalomi Levi Weiman-Kelman
“What really happened at that mountain in the wilderness? ... Consider the implications, for instance, if Moses simply concocted the whole thing or if those words on the tablets are literally God’s words. Are these two options mutually exclusive?”
“The precepts of ethical behavior set forth in the Ten Commandments are wisely and lucidly explicated in this important volume.”
“By too easily claiming and naming God, by encouraging others to do the same, did I take the name of the Lord in vain?”
“Surprising and provocative.... Takes us both deeply into—and far beyond—the plain meaning of the text.”
“Real idolatry today is the worship of money, technology, addictions, absolute political systems—even of ‘Judaism’ and of the personal ego.”
—Zalman M. Schachter-Shalomi
“According to the Talmud, the first question that we will be asked in the World to Come is ‘Were you honest in your world?’ The question challenges us on many different levels. Were you honest in your dealings with other people, in your public life, in your private life, with your family, with your friends? And it also pushes us to ask an even harder question: Were you honest with yourself?”
Rachel S. Mikva is
committed to sharing with others the rewards of spiritual study
and the power of a relationship with God. She is rabbi of
Community Synagogue in Rye, New York, and was ordained at
Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion. While
she serves on the Reform movement’s Commission for
Religious Living as well as on the Responsa Committee and on
numerous other community and national not-for-profit boards,
she dedicates most of her time to teaching, which she considers
her most important work.