with Gil Dekel, PhD.
Shavuot commemorates the ancient story of receiving the Ten Commandments.
Why do we have 10 commandments? Why don’t we have 9, 7 or 6? The reason is that the number 10 consists of the figures 1 and 0. 1 + 0 equals 1. 1 is a symbolic representation of completion; of ‘oneness’.
The “0” has the shape of a circle. It’s circular, like planet earth. It represents everything in and around our planet. So it is a symbol of our world; and “1” representing completion and oneness. Together, “10” symbolises all human beings.
Sometimes we don’t say “commandments” but rather we say “promises”, as in “the ten promises”. It’s really not about commanding people, but about promising them something good that will happen.
However, there is historical reason why we use the word “commandments”. The reason is that you can only command people that are aware of themselves; people that would listen to you and would accept (or not accept) the commandments.
Before we received the Ten Commandments, there was no awareness. People were not aware of themselves as free people in a society; as a collective group. Without such awareness, you cannot command people. You cannot command someone that doesn’t relate back to you. For example, you cannot command stones or objects, as they operate on a different level than people. They do not respond to people’s commands… You can only command people, and only if they are conscious of themselves.
So, the important message behind the Ten Commandments is that people became aware of themselves, around 3,300 years ago when they received the commandments. They became conscious of themselves as a human group, as people – in this case as a Jewish group.
That is the most important message in the commandments; more important than the actual 10 commandments. Commandments can be given to someone who may accept them. This is why the first commandment says, “I am your God, in Hebrew: “Anochy Adonai Eloheychaa a’sher hotsee’atecha meerets mytraym”. I am your God, the one who took you out of Egypt.
The purpose of stating “I am your God” at the beginning of the 10 Commandments, is to ask the reader if they are aware and use their free will. You have fee will with which you can choose to acknowledge this ‘I am your God’, if you wish to. You do not have to acknowledge God, but if you do, then you recognise the source of the Ten Commandments, and then you can continue read them.
This can be seen as choosing to become aware that you have the power to get out of slavery. This is the first commandment… Why does it come first? Because if you believe that you can get out of slavery; if you believe in a God, which enables freedom, and gives you the power to redeem yourself, then the rest commands will make sense to you, and be relevant to you.
If you say “no, there’s no God, there’s nothing inside me”, then all the rest commandments will not make sense to you. They will lose their internal quality and context, and become hollow words with no relevance to you.
So, we have the number ‘10’, which represents everyone together (power) and the first commandment repeats that. It says: if you are conscious of your powers then you can read the rest of the commandments…
This in effect is not a commandment really. Rather it is a request for you to become aware of yourself. God is about self-awareness. It is about exercising our free will to choose.
“I am your God who took you out of Egypt.” – this relates to the ancient story of the Jews being enslaved in Egypt. The slavery was more mental than physical.
It took the Jewish nation 400 years before they asked God to redeem them. They could ask God to release them 100 years into slavery but it took then 400 years. The number 40 represents maturity in Kabala. It also represents one generation. It took them 10 generations before they actually grew in awareness and requested to be released. Again, the number 10: 1 + 0.
The next 9 commandments:
Second command: You shall not have another God. – here we do not necessarily mean a religious God; but we mean not to have limitations. “Lo Yehe Leha Elohim Acherim Al Panay”, ‘you shall not have limitations upon me’. A limitation is where people think that someone from the external world can define who they are internally. That’s why it says “Lo Ta’ase Lecha Pesel”, you shall not create any statue, or anything that you would bow to.
A stone is holy (like anything else on this planet) but you shall not bow to a stone. If you bow to something external of you then you take your inner powers away. If you take your inner powers away, you cannot see the divine, the God within you.
This command is not about forbidding creating visual arts. It’s okay to create art. But the command says that it is not useful to put your trust in something external of you, as it has no powers to release you.
Third command: You shall not carry the name of God in vain, “Lo’ Tisa Et-Shem Adonai ‘Eloheykaa Lashav.” When you speak, when you have a thought in mind and you verbalize it through your words, remember that words have power. Remember to use your inner positive powers. You shall not carry words in vain because whatever you say puts energy on this planet.
This is also explained in Kabalistic belief (and in modern quantum physics belief): everything we think and say has the power to manifest physical reality.
The fourth commandment: “Zhchor ‘et-yowm HaShabat LeKadsho”; Remember the Saturday day, the Sabbath.
The word “Shabbat”, Saturday, means ‘Lashevet’ (Hebrew) – to sit. It is about relaxing. It doesn’t necessarily mean the seventh day, but it means to stop at any single moment; not allowing the speed of life dominates your thoughts. Do not allow the hectic modern life dominate who you are inside.
The story relates to God creating the world in 7 days and on the 7th day, God sat; God relaxed. The moral meaning is not the creation of the world. The moral meaning is for you to always find the quiet niche inside your heart – when you make Shabbat, make a Saturday every single moment. When you relax inside, while the world is speeding and everything is so hectic; when you find your Shabbat in there then you can observe reality from within. Then you can see your inner powers. So remember the Saturday and make it holy.
Fifth commandment: “Kabed et Avicha VeEt Imecha”, respect your elders. As you grow up, you will bring new ideas, new technologies to life. With that you may start to forget those who put the foundations that allow you to grow and manifest. It’s ok to bring new ideas to life, but remember the elders who created the establishment for you to build on. Also, this is about gratitude, and respect for those who gave you physical life.
Sixth commandment and a promise is: you shall not kill. Now, why do we do we need to tell people not to kill?… We do not need to say to a plant or a marble “do not kill”, but we need to instruct people not to kill, because apparently there is bad inclination in people. There’s a negative side to people. So, just observe it and remember what you should not do.
Do not kill physically, and also do not kill other people’s ideas. When you observe opposition in front of you; maybe someone who thinks differently, someone who has a different ideology, don’t kill their ideology or their way of life.
Seventh commandment: “Lo’ Tin’aaph” – do not have relation with other people’s spouses. Do not interrupt other people’s relationships and do not take someone else’s husband or wife.
Eighth commandment: “Lo’ Tignov”, you shall not steal. Don’t think that there is something better than what you have right here, and that you need to steal it…
“Lo’ Tignov”, also refers to stealing other people’s energy. Do not drain other people from their energy. Do you sometimes meet people in the street, and after five minutes of talk you feel drained, all your energy is gone?… They just stole your energy. “Lo’ Tignov””, we shall not steal. Don’t take other things. Find the things within you.
Commandment 9: “Lo’-taaneh Bereecha eed Sheker”, you shall not lie when you talk about other people. This is not just about going to court and giving false evidence, rather this is about everyday life. When you see something, don’t cause other people to think negativity about it.
Commandment 10, promise #10: “Lo’-Tachmod Beit Reekaa”. You should not want what other people have. Even if you don’t literally take something, don’t believe that you need to have it.
The most important things about the commandments:
- The number 10 which represents a completion; a circle. It makes 1, we are all one.
- Being aware of yourself as a conscious being. Only when you are aware you can relate to commandments.
- Being aligned to yourself, to your energy. Looking inside and through the inside finding your outside.
The Ten Commandments in Hebrew:
1. אָנֹכִי ה’ אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתִיךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם.
2. לֹא יִהְיֶה לְךָ אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים עַל פָּנָי.
לֹא-תַעֲשֶׂה לְךָ פֶסֶל, וְכָל-תְּמוּנָה.
3. לֹא תִשָּׂא אֶת-שֵׁם-ה’ אֱלֹהֶיךָ לַשָּׁוְא.
4. זָכוֹר אֶת-יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת לְקַדְּשׁוֹ.
5. כַּבֵּד אֶת-אָבִיךָ וְאֶת-אִמֶּךָ .
6. לֹא תִרְצָח.
7. לֹא תִנְאָף.
8. לֹא תִגְנֹב.
9. לֹא-תַעֲנֶה בְרֵעֲךָ עֵד שָׁקֶר .
10. לֹא תַחְמֹד בֵּית רֵעֶךָ.
© Gil and Natalie Dekel. 16 April 2017.
Shavuaot – שבועות – also known as: The Feast of weeks.