The Cost Of Omission: A Ten Commandments’ Tale

as a big fan of books and religious learning materials, i picked up “the bible from scratch the old testament for beginners” authored by donald l. griggs. i started reading it and found it educational and a valuable resource. chapter three, which addressed the narratives of genesis, was problematic. the sodom and gemorrah story was omitted. the story, even absent any sexual immorality aspect, is foundationally a critical story to understand the bible.

first, having chosen abraham as his human leader who would become the father of nations, the master of the universe was confronted with the crisis as to whether he should inform abraham of his decision to destroy sodom & gemorrah. god, appreciating abraham’s nature, reveals the plans. abraham confronts god and argues on behalf of the righteous,  “will you even destroy the righteous with the wicked?” he asks. genesis 18:13. abraham’s tale connects with the stories of noah and moses. both these figures also received disclosure by the master of the universe of the intent to destroy a population. noah, before abraham, said nothing. moses, after abraham, said much more. thus, this episode represents a crucial part of the bible’s theme of humanity’s role with god with respect to morality. second, the sodom & gemorrah brings context to the binding of isaac episode. abraham’s decision to sacrifice his son must be viewed in light of his his past defense for the righteous within those two cities.

thus, i am confounded by mr. griggs’ decision to omit such a fundamental and profound part of the bible from his book. even on a non-religious basis, the phrase “sodom & gemorrah” serves reference in modern english. certainly, one would want beginning students of the bible to be aware of the term.

recently, rabbi hillel silverman, age 99, passed away. on a personal level, i loved him as my synagogue’s rabbi. he was dynamic and kind. as a child, his great reputation with the young boys was that, during the high holidays (in a time long before the internet and smart phones) he would keep the congregation abreast of major league baseball’s world series’ scores. during that period, the dodgers and yankees met often in the october classic. in fact, it was the time at which reggie jackson became “mr. october!” living in los angeles, everyone wanted to know about their beloved dodgers.

while on the top conservative pulpit in los angeles, rabbi silverman had a biblical style fall from grace. his infidelity scandal rocked the congregation akin to king david’s affair with bathsheeba. like king david, rabbi silverman was able to move forward with this life. hopefully, the others involved likewise were able to recover and move on with their lives. rabbi silverman, an author, certainly would have addressed this chapter in his life along with his many accomplishments. it was a moment at which a large than life individual proved to be a mere human.

it came as a surprise that the jewish telegraph agency article on rabbi silverman’s death omitted the scandal. at the time, the fact that he was the rabbi at one of the most prestigious conservative synagogues-sinai temple-was even omitted from the story. at the time it happened, it was news. had it happened in present times, it would have blown up all over both social media and regular media. at the time, it was a big thing.

again, i am confounded. why such an important part of the rabbi’s life was omitted? this wasn’t a speech that was to read at his funeral. it was an important event of his life. the story serves not to blemish the rabbi’s memory but rather provide guidance. is valuable. it presents both as a cautionary tale to those in great power who are faced with many opportunities and it presents as a tale that there is a pathway towards healing and redemption. as an outsider, it would appear that a number of people involved were able to move forward in difficult times.

these omissions perhaps signify that the brutal honesty within the bible is meant to be treasured. it gives us strength to have uncomfortable conversations. this honesty is where we learn how to become brave and courageous. this honesty is where we learn to be resilient and forgiving. this honesty is where we learn to be humble.

be well!!

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Published by biblelifestudies

I am a practicing lawyer and long term admirer of the bible

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