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10 Commandments miscellany


One of my fave poems, written by yours truly: Apologia, a stream of consciousness apology to my 1st grandson, Jacob, on the occasion of his bris. Poor kid — he didn’t ask for all this struggle & angst.

Two: The 10 Commandments, Texas Style, from Cowboy Poetry (the music alone is worth a visit).

(1) Just one God.
(2) Honor yer Ma & Pa.
(3) No telling tales or gossipin’.
(4) Git yourself to Sunday meeting.
(5) Put nothin’ before God.
(6) No foolin’ around with another fellow’s gal.
(7) No killin’.
(8) Watch yer mouth.
(9) Don’t take what ain’t yers.
(10) Don’t be hankerin’ for yer buddy’s stuff.

Three: My own off-the-top-of-my-head interpretation of the 10 Big Sayings. Keep in mind that insomnia kept me awake til he wee hours of the morning AND it’s Friday (Shabbat Shalom!) AND I’ve been in a kind of snarky, smartass mood all week (see: previous post).

1. I am YHWH your God. Make no mistake: every people has their God. I am particularly well-suited to a people that spends a heck of a lot of time talking, arguing, complaining, and looking for explanations as to why things aren’t going their way. You are not an easy people and I am not an easy God.

2. You should have no other gods before Me. As sages of all traditions have said: don’t worship what doesn’t matter, e.g., money, sex, power, guns, big cars, cell phones, and being right. It is, however, okay to engage in a little shoe fetish now and again.

3. Don’t take the name of YHWH in vain. Don’t invoke My name to apologize for, or justify, your bad public policy, greed, ineptitude, bigotry, violence, or short-sighted decisions. Also your holier-than-thou attitudes in any direction. Own your shit and try not to put words in My mouth.

4. Keep the Sabbath day. Surely you don’t have to go to the mall 7 days a week. Surely you can take a 10-minute break from checking your email on your iPhone. Same principle.

5. Honor your father & mother. Be nice to them that brought you to the dance. Don’t act like a teenager your entire life. Don’t cut Medicare or Social Security. Let them spoil your own children more than is necessary. Don’t spend your inheritance on frivolities. Call them more than you would like.

6. Don’t murder. Do as I say and not as I do. (Editor’s note: murder of the unrighteous, unrepentant, or inconvenient is still murder.)

7. Don’t adulter. If everyone would just heed this commandment, it would spell the end of at least 75% of all daytime talk shows and much of what passes as entertainment news. This would be a good thing.

8. Don’t steal. This is a gimme. Don’t bring the world economy crashing to its knees because you needed another and another and another buck. Don’t waste other people’s time. Don’t steal years off someone’s life by denying them health insurance coverage. Don’t steal ideas without giving credit (and where appropriate, some cold, hard cash). Don’t steal – and stomp on – the public’s trust. Don’t steal the future by being willfully stupid (think: climate change). Don’t steal people’s dignity by forcing them into situations you yourself would never tolerate.

9. Don’t bear false witness. Don’t call non-governmental organizations who fight for civil rights “terrorists.” Don’t even think about bringing up dredging up death panels. And please don’t compare everyone you don’t like to a Nazi. Name-calling is for cheaters. Purposeful spreading of lies is a cheap trick.

10. Don’t covet what your neighbor has. Otherwise known as the don’t even think about it commandment. Thinking leads to urges and urges lead to obsessions and obsessions lead to action. I know what you have might not be good enough, but you’ll make yourself cuckoo thinking about it all the time. Life isn’t fair and bad people get some good stuff. Go volunteer at a homeless shelter. Be thankful you’re not Job.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 01/21/2011 3:15 pm

    I love your reinterpretation of the 10 commandments — especially “You are not an easy people and I am not an easy God.” So true.

    (I wrote my own a few years ago – – but it is more earnest and less snarky than yours, and right now I think I like yours better!)

    • sue swartz permalink*
      01/21/2011 4:57 pm

      Thanks Rachel. I’m always happy to help a rabbi with her snark.

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