Imagine that I hand you $500 cash. You didn’t ask for the money, but I gave it to you anyway. As I handed it over, I said the following: “This is a gift for you. Feel free to use it as you wish.. It is yours.”
Now imagine that I hand you that same $500. But this time when I hand it over, I say with a sense of expectation,” I have $500 and I am choosing to give it to you, and to you alone. But, if you choose to accept this gift, you must follow the rules that go with it.”
This week’s Parsha, Yitro (Exodus 18:1–20:23), is arguably one of the most quintessential pieces in Judaism. It is in this Parshat that G-d descended to Mount Sinai to give the Jewish people, His people, the Torah. It is here that G-d proclaims the 10 Commandments. These are as follows:
When I handed you that $500 the first time, there were no strings attached. Feel free to use it as you wish and whatever you choose to do is fine with me. However, when I gave the money the second time, there were complete strings attached. But, if you choose to accept this gift, you must follow my rules.”
As in the later case, when G-d gave the Jewish people the Torah at Mount Sinai, expectations were established. In this Torah Portion, G-d stated, “Now, if you will obey Me faithfully and keep My covenant, you shall be My treasured possession among all the people.” This “If” statement clearly defines the relationship between G-d and the Jewish people. Essentially, “If” you do what I am asking and follow the rules I have given you then the agreement will remain intact. BUT, if you violate the contract there will be consequences.
This becomes clear when the Jews sent spies to scout Israel in an act of defiance to G-d’s commandments, G-d punished the Jews by condemning them to 40 years in the desert. In this situation, G-d is punishing the Jews for their actions. This situation exemplifies the notion that the Jewish people were no longer the chosen people because although they received the 10 Commandments and the Torah, they did not carry out G-d’s word in the 10 Commandments and the Torah. The covenant was broken. The people would have to show their commitment to restore their place as G-d’s people.
The Cardinal Principles of the Aleph Zadik Aleph and the Menorah Pledge Principles of the B’nai Brith Girls are our covenant. As the future Jewish leaders of the world, take a moment to read through the principles and see how you can apply them to your daily life. In BBYO, we are given numerous opportunities to make a lasting difference in our community. This could be through inspiring a younger member, aspiring for leadership positions, or attending local programs to promote a strong chapter. As you make your way through BBYO, use the theoretical 10 Commandments that we have been given. Always remember, that it is not just a gift. Like the 10 Commandments on Mount Sinai, it comes with a responsibility to adhere to its principles every day. It is worth far more than $500!
Max Perry, KIO BBYO Shaliach
Read commentary on this week's Parsha from BBYO teens around the world.
All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.
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