in the book “the ten commandments a short history of an ancient text”, the author, michael coogan, does a thoughtful and scholarly inquiry into the ten commandments.
one of mr. coogan’s obsession within his book is to lay out that the torah contain multiple versions the ten commandments. further, he points out the additional ritual decalogue which differs from the other versions of the ten commandments.
mr. coogan makes a big point that there are in fact three versions of the ten commandments. his focus is on academic scholarship. it can be argued that he wants to make that point that this should be some focus of awareness that there are in fact multiple versions. in sum, his point appears to be that people should know about three as opposed to a popular amalgamation of ten.
the ten commandments project’s goal is different than those within academics. the ten commandments project’s goal is that the public become aware of the mere fact that there are ten commandments. the second goal is that the public have a good understanding of roughly what each individual commandment represents. the third goal is that individuals take the time to apply the ten commandments, the values and morals, in their life, their family’s lives, and their community’s lives. that would be sufficient.
in the passover celebration of the exodus, there is a song that is sung called “dayenu.” in translation, it means “that would be sufficient.” the song goes through the various miracles and things that god has done for the children of israel. these events include such things as giving them the torah and freeing them from egypt. for each great thing, the word “dayenu” is said. it would have been enough. the ten commandments project essentially has three “dayenus” to achieve. awareness, knowledge and application.
thus, mr. coogan places us in a conundrum. how do we present the ten commandments? should we figuratively place them in a blender? i say yes! for our limited goal, let’s get out our vitamix, our ninja foodie, or our kitchenaide and whip up some ten commandments! in reality, we are talking about addressing the basics and not the extraneous.
an analogy. you can go to a japanese restaurant and have a desert in which they give you fruit that is artfully cut up and visually wonderful. alternatively, you can go to a juice bar and have those same fruit item tossed into a blender. both consumptions will lead to the same nutrients. one classier and the other not so much.
this project is in the blender mode. we are not too concerned about which set of ten is reviewed. we are not concerned about whether people, in the minds, are able to separate to two sets. [note: ritual decalogue not included within this discussion.] this project is to get them into the door of using the ten commandments to assist them with a better life.
in the end, once individuals of the taste for the ten commandments, they may want to know more. thus, this project may lead them to search our scholarly and academic studies on the commandments.
again, our society is best served with ten commandments awareness, knowledge and action.
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