Although the Ten Commandments are frequently a subject of political and religious debate today, more a symbol than a living document, David Hazony argues that the Commandments still have profound significance. Hazony, former editor of the Israeli journal Azure and a frequent contributor to such publications as The New Republic and the blog of Commentary, analyzes each commandment using both traditional sources and personal experience to show how the Commandments can renew the spirit of redemption in an increasingly hectic and multitasking world.
The original intent of the Commandments was to create an orderly and just society. Interpreting the Commandments in this light, Hazony reveals the meanings that lie beneath these ten seemingly simple statements and their recognition of both human weakness and potential for redemption. Unfolding layer upon layer of meanings, Hazony draws us into ourselves, our sense of life’s purpose, and our ability to moderate our drive for personal and professional achievement in order to reach out to others and create the healthy, vibrant individual and communal world envisioned by the Commandments.
In his Introduction, Hazony states that his interpretation of the Commandments is based on his own thoughts about the Bible. As some may suggest that the rabbis of Talmud interpreted the Commandments in the light of their experience and society, readers may come away from Hazony’s Ten Commandments with a similar sense. But few readers will argue with Hazony’s deeply felt desire for greater understanding of ourselves and life’s joys and difficulties and for the need to recognize our ability and expand our efforts to better the world.
Maron L. Waxman, retired editorial director, special projects, at the American Museum of Natural History, was also an editorial director at HarperCollins and Book-of-the-Month Club.