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    The Jeroboams of today – Va’et’channan

    ten commandments glassThe Torah reading gives us a second version of the Ten Commandments, over and above the original text in Parashat Yitro (Ex. 20).

    Why do we need a repeat? Because many people ignore the first version.

    It recalls Jeroboam in the Book of Kings. The sages were not impressed with him. They said that he both sinned and caused others to sin.

    That’s an inkling of the strange situation we have today. So many people break the Ten Commandments; they make other people break them too, and they get a reward for doing it.

    To single out two groups, think of the media and the advertising world. Murder, theft, adultery, lying, coveting – all are portrayed as enjoyable, politically correct, socially acceptable and easy to do. Human life, as I heard a rabbi say after the Holocaust, has become so cynically cheap that its mass destruction isn’t greatly deplored.

    Property isn’t safe, either in the conventional sense or when it comes to investments or advantage. Marriage is boring in comparison to the thrill of adultery. Truth doesn’t exist: everything, words, pictures, impressions, can be touched up and photoshopped.

    Coveting? It’s the international sport – whatever anyone else has, you can also have if only you buy the right cosmetics, wear the right clothes, drive the right car, take the right holidays.

    Jeroboam is the name of the game – everyone can sin and get others to sin. Jeroboam should be sued, except that those who administer the suing for you and (God forbid!) even the judges who hear the case are guilty of the same Jeroboam instincts. Nothing and nobody is safe. The Ten Commandments don’t even get lip service any more.

    Abraham Joshua Heschel said he feared for the future of America. We all ought to fear for the future of mankind.

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