Thursday, May 29, 2014

Extra Commandments for the 21st Century

Here are the original 10 Commandments

Next week we celebrate Pentecost or The Feast of Weeks (Shavuot). In Judaism it still marks the Old Testament event of The Giving of the Law (Torah) on Mt Sinai. The 10 Commandments were written on the two tablets whereas the rest was an oral rendition passed on from Moses to the elders and from the elders to the people.

Thus, you could say that much of the Torah is open to interpretation whereas The 10 Commandments were literally etched in stone. However, after 3,500 (or so) years we are due for some extra, more modern, commandments. Not instead of but as well as.

The 13 Commandments for the 21st Century

1. I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other gods before me. This includes rabbis and any other figures of authority including politicians and celebrities. People with power are not necessarily with wisdom. Those who do have wisdom are a valuable resource to guide and advise you. They are not God, they cannot command you.

2. Go forth and have a couple, even a few, children if you want to. Go forth and multiply was relevant in its day when the world needed populating. The world is now populated. You are not commanded to have as many children as you can before your body gives out and your life (what's left of it) is at risk.

3. Do not ruin the Earth for future generations. Plant trees, leave open spaces, conserve resources, recycle. You are loaned this earth for a short period of time, return it as you would wish to find it.

4. Go Vegan. Dietary laws are divisive and carnivores use up so many nutritional resources it causes starvation in poorer countries. A vegan diet would eliminate the need to separate religions over a good meal and would help to alleviate starvation.

5. Embrace the other, love, tolerance, understanding, empathy, and acceptance are all essential. We live in a global village, we have to get along. Gone are the days of raising the drawbridge and keeping the world out. A religion that tries to cut itself off from the others either has something to hide or something to fear. The only reason for restricting your children from learning about the world and customs other than your own, is if you are insecure about your own teachings and therefore fearful of losing control over them.

6. Religion is flexible, be kind to yourself and others. Consideration of others is not flexible and suffering for no reason is plain stupid. A rigid religion is intolerant of others and oblivious to the environment. If you behave in a way that makes you and/or others suffer in the name of your religion, it's not much of a religion.

7. Religion is a matter of choice, live and let live. While being family and community orientated, it is not for you to impose your religion on everyone. This applies to your family, your neighbours, and to the country you happen to be living in for your +/- 100 year innings (if you are lucky). A religion imposed rather than chosen is worth nothing.

8. Don't be so open-minded that your brains fall out. Turn the other cheek and all that for the little things but hold people accountable for their actions. Don't be scared to stand up for what is right and good. Offend if you must.

9. Everything in moderation. Even the good stuff.

10. A bit of Common Sense. I got this one from Rabbi David Rosen who attributes it to his late father Rabbi Koppel Rosen.

11. The world is evolving, go with the flow. Who says you can only have 10 Commandments. In these days of internet, don't apply your old fashioned concepts of privacy. Language is about communication not rules of grammar. Don't automatically reject your children's choices because they are so  different from what you chose. New may be good or bad, consider the pros and cons of each innovation before proclaiming your verdict. Always consider the bigger picture.

12. Make a contribution. I don't  mean $50 to Cancer Research although that's also good. You don't have to solve the clean water shortage in Africa or find a cure for HIV, though that would be great too. You need to figure it out for yourself, on your own scale.

13. Add your own personal commandment. Because you are just as much a part of the story of humankind as Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed. We are not the first runners in this relay but we all took the baton when our turn came to be born. What would your commandment be?


  1. There's some very important and timely commandments there, I suppose I would add:

    Thou shalt not judge others. Because you will never know the whole story.

    Thou shalt value all human lives equally. Everyone makes a contribution, even if it is not financial, and no-one knows when disability or illness will come knocking at their door.

    There's a blog post in the making here already, I'm on a roll!

    1. Oh yes, don't judge. I wish I'd thought of that one earlier. It's difficult to limit the basic rules to 10 or a dozen.