Thursday, February 9, 2012

(Roughly) Ten out of 613 - Thursday Kavvanah, 2/9/2012

We have come to think of the Decalogue (aka the "Ten Commandments" or "Aseret ha-dibberot") as the basic template for God's expectations for us.  The Torah calls special attention to these mitzvot, with the whole Mt. Sinai thing and the major Exodus special effects budget and the days of preparation and so forth.  But really, these ten (which, depending on how you count, can number as high as fifteen distinct statements) are just the tip of the Jewish iceberg.

And yet, whenever many of us talk about commandments, we reflexively refer to the "Top Ten," as Kinky Friedman once put it in song.  Perhaps it's because we have ten fingers; perhaps because "ten" sounds much less daunting than "613."  Maybe this is simply a nod to human nature: that we need to understand God and life and the rules in small, discrete chunks.  If there are ten things to heed, says the Torah, these are they.

Rabbi Seth Adelson

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