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    The second explosion – Va’et’channan

    This sidra is the second time the Ten Commandments come in the Torah. The first occasion is Parashat Yitro (Ex. 20).

    Moses & Aaron with the Ten Commandments, by Aron de Chavez c.1675

    Each version has its own occasion, its own ambiance.

    The first version is the explosive announcement which gives meaning and purpose to a newly emancipated people who have entered upon their destiny.

    The second occasion is more than a routine re-statement but, as it were, a second explosion.

    In between the first and second versions there have been many years of history.

    Little by little each one of the Ten Commandments has been whittled away.

    The people have forgotten God, they have served idols, they have taken the Divine Name in vain, they have forsaken the Sabbath, they have disrespected their parents, they have transgressed the “Thou shalt nots”.

    Now another new destiny is about to open before them with the entry to the Promised Land.

    If clothing fashions had been different, Moses would be telling them, “It’s time to pull up your socks!”

    No wonder that amongst the occasional differences of wording between the first and second versions, the commandment about honouring parents now contains the words (Deut. 5:16), “That it may go well with you”.

    Things will be difficult in the Promised Land in the years ahead unless the people rededicate themselves to their Heavenly Parent and the traditions of their earthly mothers and fathers.

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