Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “No excuses.”

In the Torah, we find several verses asking: “What does the Lord your God require of you?” (Deuteronomy 10:12)

This is directed at each and every individual – not to the leaders, or to the audience, or to someone else, but to you.

In the description of the making of the covenant between God and the Jewish people, this point appears in a verse directed to all generations.

This special verse is phrased in a seemingly strange way: “The Lord did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, these here today, all of us alive” (Deuteronomy 5:3).

This combination of words with the same meaning comes to give added stress.

This verse says emphatically that the covenant is not of yesterday, and not with another people but with us, each one of us, and not in a different time or place but “here, today.”

This demand is very real.

It requires the transfer of commitment, together with the burden and the effort, from the society to the individual.

It prevents us from hiding behind any social, public or historical structure, and it says: If we want a solution to the problem of deterioration we are required to create a personal relationship with God not only emotionally, but operationally – “We, these, here, today.”

And this demand is difficult because our Father in Heaven, unlike a policeman, accepts no excuses, and cannot be deceived.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz