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June 09, 1989 - Image 43

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-06-09

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

--I TORAH PORTION

We Must Worship God
In All Of Our Deeds

RABBI MORTON F. YOLKUT

Special to The Jewish News

T

he festival of Shavuot
commemorates the
quintessential event of
Jewish history — the Sinai
covenant between God and
Israel.
When God gave the Ten
Commandments to our
ancestors, he presented them
on two distinct tablets. The
tablets are familiar to us all:
they represent the religious,
ethical and social values of

Shavuot
Yizkor

Judaism. The fascimile of
these tablets is found in
almost every synagogue —
but the representation may
be misleading. For, from the
appearance of these tablets,
we might tend to conclude
that they are equal in con-
tent, that the commandments
on the first tablets are
equivalent in length and
style to those on the second.
A cursory examination
shows that this is not the
case. The first five command-
ments are, in fact, quite long,
with great detail, explicit ex-
amples and involved
phraseology. In distinct con-
trast to this detailed exposi-
tion is the curt language of
the second set of five com-
mandments engraved on the
other tablet: Do not murder.
Do not steal. Do not covet.
Short, unequivocal and
succinct.
This stylistic difference is
meant to convey an important
lesson in itself. The com-
mandments engraved on the
first tablet delineate the mitz-
vot bain adam lamakom, the
commandments regulating
man's relationship to God.
The second contain the mitz-
vot bain adam lachavero, the
commandments that govern
man's relationship to his
fellow man.
The latter are clear,
understandable and require
no further elaboration. In-
deed, the basic principle
regulating the affairs bet-
ween men should be simple
and straightforward — do not
do unto others what you
would not have them do unto
you.

With this as a basis, there
is little need for precise rules
or further elaboration. Sim-

Morton Yolkut is rabbi of
Congregation B'nai Dauid.

ple"mentchlechkeit" alone
should serve as our standard
when it comes to interper-
sonal relationships.
Not so simple, however, is
the relationship between God
and man. God is removed
from us and we cannot in-
tuitively know what is
demanded in the divine-
human encounter. And since
we have no standard by which
to judge, it is imperative that
He carefully and explicately
set forth for mankind what it
is that governs the God-man
relationship.
It also is significant that in
this initial revelation to the
Jewish people God instructs
them in both categories of
mitzvot — those that pertain
to piety and divine worship,
and those that must govern
our dealings with fellow men.
Judaism makes no distinction
between these two categories.
They both come under the
rules of our faith, of our Torah
and of our religious codes of
law. Neither can exist
independently.
Our sages point out that the
word tablets in the Torah —
luchot — is spelled chaser
(without the pluralizing vov)
and thus can be pronounced
luchat, which is singular. The
implication is that both
tablets and both categories
must be united into one.
Judaism does not differen-
tiate. Man must worship God
in all his deeds, not only in
religious ritual but in the
ethical realm. The approach
will be different in each case
— just as the style of the com-
mandments varies — but the
goal is the same: "To find
favor in the eyes of God and
man."
Religion in the Jewish
Weltanshauung is when
luchot becomes luchat, when
the two tablets are fused
together into one, when both
categories — our relationship
to God and our dealings with
our fellowman — go hand in
hand. In theory and in prac-
tice, in thought and in need,
religion and ethics must find
synthesis and integration
upon the tablets of God's law
and, more important yet,
within the heart and soul of
man. El

Doctorow Topic

Rabbi Sherwin Wine of the
Birmingham Temple will pre-
sent the second of two reviews
on the theme "Adventures in
Fiction" 8:30 p.m. Monday.
He will discuss the new novel,
Billy Bathgate, by E.L.
Doctorow.

Jewish infant, Pierre Sauvage, in the arms of rescuer, 1944.

Temple Beth El

Cordially Invites The Community

To It .e Our Guest For A Special
Preview Evening

"Weapons Of ► he Spirit"

Emmy Award Winning Film By
Pierre Sauvage

Sunday, June 11, 8:00 p.m.

Sauvage's highly acclaimed new feature length film tells the story of
Le Chambon, a small mountain community in Nazi-occupied France, where
5,000 Christians took in and saved 5,000 Jews during the Holocaust.
Born and sheltered in Le Chambon, Sauvage himself was among those Jews
whose families were tortured and murdered in the Nazi death camps.

Pierre Sauvage will be present to talk about the making of the movie
and the lessons he has learned from it.

"Inspiring and ennobling, beautiful and painful to watch,
this extraordinary film is a tribute to a kind of moral courage
rarely seen but to which mankind must, if it is to survive, aspire."

—Norman Lear

Winner! L.A. Film Critics 1988 Documentary
Winner! Documentary Gold Hugo, Chicago Film Festival

Temple Beth El, Telegraph at 14 Mile, Birmingham

This event is being funded by a grant from the Stein Family Fund.

"when words are
just not enough"

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

43

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