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Reb Lisa's Message

Yesterday during Shul School, we talked about the Aseret HaDibrot, Ten Commandments, which appear in this week’s parasha, Yitro.


First we tried to see how many of the commandments we could remember, without looking at the text. Their recall was excellent! We also talked about the importance of having a framework of holy guidelines by which to abide, including the pros and cons of having to follow rules. Essentially the only downside, according to our Shul School students, is that sometimes going by the rules impinges on our ability to “have fun.”


I was impressed with the main reasons our students thought following a set of guidelines like the Ten Commandments is incredibly important:


  1. Creates a sense of safety and well being.

  2. Gives order and structure to our lives.


On the one hand this is an overly simplified response to something as grand and ancient and enduring as the guiding principles at the center of our holy text. Yet at the same time, their analysis is essentially the core message--and our Shul School students totally get it!


Currently, many of us find ourselves on unstable ground, where safety and structure feel elusive. Some of these forces are beyond our control. In the face of that, I urge us to turn toward the spiritual practices of faith, gratitude, and radical compassion.


Where we do have agency, let us remember to act from the principles laid out in this week’s Torah portion. May we find a sense and safety and structure in our blueprint for Holy living--the Ten Commandments and act from integrity.


Many are hurting and in despair, because of the unusual landscape we find ourselves in as humans. When in doubt, err on the side of kindness. May we silently bless everyone with whom we interact.




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