By An Angel Called Truth
Yitro – God Gives Moses the Ten Commandments
In this week’s portion, the children of Israel arrive at Sinai. Moses goes up Mount Sinai and is sent back down with messages for the people – twice. But eventually, with thunder and lightning all around, a thick cloud descends, the mountain trembles and Moses experiences revelation. In rabbinic Hebrew, this moment is called the ‘Ten Sayings’ not the ‘Ten Commandments,’ for reasons that will be clear from reading our story; told from the perspective of Moses. Also, we’ve used the word ‘Adonai’ to refer to God – this is the traditional word used when God’s name is written in its most special form. Adonai is usually translated as ‘Lord’ – but that English word suggests God is male – and God is really above that sort of thing.
I’m exhausted already. Up the mountain, down the mountain, up again, down again. Alright, back up again. My feet are blistered and sore, but this is going to be special. I know it. I’ve got everything organised, everyone is positioned exactly where God wants them to be. Everyone’s washed, with their clothes all clean. We are ready for this. Ever since we left Egypt, we’ve known we are being singled out for a special covenant. And today is the day. OK, God, what have you got for us?
It’s … actually getting difficult to keep walking; the light, the noise, the smoke, I can hardly … put … one … leg … in … front … of … the … next. Then, suddenly, I have this sense of God’s presence. It doesn’t sound like words in the way that words normally sound like words. It’s sort of right inside me without my having to hear it. It’s like … it’s not like anything else ever. But I know that the very thing God wants from me, from all of us is this:
I am Adonai your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt.
The only problem is … that doesn’t sound like a command. I mean, what am I supposed to do differently because of a phrase like that? Everyone down there is expecting Commandments – and this, this sounds like an introduction, a reminder of the story so far. I mean, what’s the big deal …. Oh, hold on, there is more coming in.
Have no other gods beside Me. Don’t make idols. Don’t take my name in vain. Remember the Sabbath day. Honour your father and mother.
‘OK, this is better – I mean, having to be nice to your parents isn’t going to go down well with everyone – especially not the teenagers – but at least I know what, God, You mean for us.
And there’s more. Hang on a second. God, my memory’s good, but if you want this carefully passed down from generation to generation, I’m going to have to write some of this down.
This is taken from “An Angel Called Truth and other tales”, a series of vibrant and engaging tales corresponding to the weekly parasha, written from the point of view of a 10-13 year old. This is a project by Rabbi Jeremy Gordon, writer Emma Parlons and illustrator Pete Williamson. To help crowdfund the book, please visit www.anangelcalledtruth.com