Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Ten Commandments, Our New By-laws, and the holy day of Shavuot - by Beth Pinals

Image credit from Kolbo by artist Menachem Boas, "Fine art print. Image size is 21' x 31'. The culmination of the Exodus was the giving of the Ten Commandments. This exhilarating moment at Sinai is relived in this stunning piece, with Moses carrying the Tablets and the Leaders of the Tribes bowing in awe. The entire text of the The Book of Deuteronomy is here. This is Hebrew micrography in which all images are made with Hebrew letters. Call for pricing and availability if you would like a framed print. Also available in a limited edition.

Ed. Note: This "bonus" post in our Ten Commandment series is written by Beth Pinals, temple President. This new reflection on the Ten Commandments and how they relate to our new congregational By-laws is shared with you on the eve of Shavuot, the time in which we commemorate the giving of the law to Moses on Sinai. We invite you to join us tonight as we celebrate our Confirmands, and mark this special event. Services tonight start at 7:30 pm in our Sanctuary, and Shavuot morning services are tomorrow at 7:00 am (during which
Yizkor prayers will be read).

In Torah, the Ten Commandments are ‘brought to us’ in Exodus – the story of the Israelites’ journey to freedom. The preface to the revelation and receipt of the Decalogue is the affirmation of covenant between God and the people. Without the laws, Israel would not be Israel – the unique, sacred nation reaching back to “those who are not with us here this day” and enduring to a future beyond what we can know. This bridge across covenantal time is in fact, at the core of our TBS Mission and Vision. And the roadmap for the enacting our Vision are our new By-laws.

As Nathan Laufer observes in The Genesis of Leadership, the Ten Commandments “…conveyed the large, axiomatic, strategic values that were to guide the Israelites on their historic mission.” So too, do they offer wisdom and values reflected in our By-laws and in our new Vision for Governance:

  1. “I Am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” This blueprint, different than so many others in our daily lives, is sacred.

  2. “You shall have no other Gods before me.” In following the new guidelines for roles, decision-making and policy setting, we shall have faith that in this document we can find all of the answers and all of the right intentions.

  3. “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” Our process will be in accordance with these By-laws and with the utmost respect for one another.

  4. “Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy.” On Shabbat, we shall seek rest from the good work of the Synagogue in order to pause, gain a new perspective, celebrate what has been done, and be rejuvenated.

  5. “Honor your father and your mother.” Always keep in mind the foundations laid by those who came before us and acknowledge the ‘caretakers’, mentors, and ‘educators’ of our community. Take special notice of The Leadership Council, which will contain the voices of our sages.

  6. “You shall not kill.” We are responsible for the ‘life’ of our TBS Vision, as well as for our Vision for Governance and By-laws. We must keep them alive by keeping them close, utilizing and examining them.

  7. “You shall not commit adultery.” Honor the commitment to adhere to these By-laws, in large and small decisions, in matters that are complicated and sensitive, and in moments of doubt.

  8. “You shall not steal.” Each section of our By-laws is carefully crafted and self-explanatory. Certain concepts or articles may be designated as ‘borrowing’ from another. In addition, some policies are to be determined by the President or the Board at the start of a term. This clarity prevents the need to seek solution or ‘steal’ from elsewhere.

  9. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” As we heard in our special Meeting of the Congregation and again see in the past 10 days of TBS Blog postings, it is critical for our leaders and for all of our congregants to speak for themselves. Kavod is kept by allowing each person to own their behavior and communications.

  10. “You shall not covet.” In order to push away from envy or wishes to possess another’s circumstances, one must engage in t’shuvah – a return home and focusing inward at our own gifts and processes. We may always return to the internal blueprint or basic structure of our By-laws and Governance Vision as a reminder of the clear and sacred bed on which our community rests.

As the Israelites stood at Sinai open to the public receiving God’s disclosure, so too on May 4th 2011, did representatives of our Congregation witness the sharing of personal reflections on these Commandments, receive and explore the new ‘commandments’, and share the Shechechianu blessing as we officially embraced our new Governance Model, Vision and Bylaws. It is a moment to be remembered. L’dor v’dor… from generation to generation.

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