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The Ten Commandments: The Significance of God's Laws in Everyday Life

The Ten Commandments: The Significance of God's Laws in Everyday Life

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by Laura Schlessinger, Stewart Vogel

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The Ten Commandments are the first direct communication between a people and God. Designed to elevate our lives above mere frantic, animal existence to the sublime levels humanity is capable or experiencing, they are the blueprint of God's expectations of us and His plan for a meaningful, just, loving, and holy life. Each commandment asserts a principle, and each


The Ten Commandments are the first direct communication between a people and God. Designed to elevate our lives above mere frantic, animal existence to the sublime levels humanity is capable or experiencing, they are the blueprint of God's expectations of us and His plan for a meaningful, just, loving, and holy life. Each commandment asserts a principle, and each principle is a moral focal point for real-life issues relating to God, family, sex, work, charity, property, speech, and thought. Written in collaboration with Rabbi Stewart Vogel, The Ten Commandments incorporates lively discussion of the Bible and the Judeo-Christian values derived from it. Filled with passion, emotion, and profound insights, it will move, enlighten, inspire, entertain, and educate you on the meaning each commandment has in our daily lives today:

  1. I am the Lord, your God, Who has taken you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery.
  2. You shall not recognize the gods of others in My presence.
  3. You shall not take the Name of the Lord., your God, in vain.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day and sanctify it.
  5. Honor your Father and your Mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your fellow.
  10. You shall not covet.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Read an Excerpt

"I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage."

According to numbers published by the New York Times Magazine (December 7, 1997), 96 percent of Americans said they believed in God; the words "In God We Trust" decorate our money; and a depiction of Moses and the Ten Commandments adorns the courtroom where the Justices of the Supreme Court often pronounce the Ten Commandments unconstitutional when placed on the wall of a schoolroom. Our founding fathers in America acknowledged God as our creator and source of universal, unalienable rights and moral standards. Why do we now appear threatened by that assertion?

Judge Roy S. Moore, the Alabama jurist who is locked in a legal battle to keep a handcrafted replica of the Ten Commandments on his courtroom wall, said he is at the center of a debate about Americans' acknowledgment of God. "Are we still one nation under God? Do we still acknowledge a higher law?" he challenged. (Jewish Times, October 24-30, 1997). It would seem that we suffer from ambivalence about believing in God, acknowledging God as our ultimate authority, and publicly teaching that belief and authority to our children.

Jim Senyszyn, a self-proclaimed atheist, wrote in the Greensboro, North Carolina, Record (November 2, 1997) that "since the Bible's basic cosmological model is monarchical, any rights that do occur are by the sufferance of the monarch," and that "Religious symbols [e.g., displaying the Ten Commandments] intimidate and give false authority." An op-ed column by John Tuouy, appearing in the same newspaper, countered that "Nothing in the Commandments prescribes a Gestapo-like authority to enforce compliance.Human beings have free will whether or not to comply."

Universally, people struggle for freedom from despotic domination to determine their own destiny. Personally, adolescents struggle for freedom from parental power, so they can do what they want, when and how they want. Freedom from external control allows for self-determination, self-expression, self-fulfillment . . . oh, oh, too much "self" . . . opportunity, diversity of opinion and ideas, experimentation—clearly a chance to explore the farthest reaches of human individual possibilities. As far as it goes, that is not a bad thing. But should there be limits? How do we judge whether what we are doing is right or wrong? Is all individually desired behavior fair or good for others or society as a whole—and should that even matter? What ultimately makes life purposeful and meaningful?

For many folks, "believers" or "non," the issue of "outside and ultimate authority" is a touchy one. Many people call my program and describe a relationship with God as one in which God loves and comforts them or sometimes does them favors. When I question them further about their sense of obligation to God, there is generally an uncomfortable silence, followed by protestations that churches are manmade and so are the rules, therefore there is no obligation other than their personal preference. When I suggest that the Scriptures clarify God's will for our behaviors, they often dismiss me with arguments like: "The Bible is written by a number of different authors over a long period of time and 'after the facts' and therefore isn't necessarily literally the word of God," to "There are many ways to interpret the passages," to "That was then and this is modern times," and finally, "My situation is different." Yet, many of these same people will turn to the Scriptures in times of pain or challenge. As somebody once said, "There are no atheists in a foxhole."

As Donna, one of my listeners, wrote, "I heard something on TV last night and I thought of you. It was on a new show about a priest called Soul Man. The priest asks an acquaintance if she goes to church. She says, 'No, too many rules.' The priest replies, 'Do not steal, do not murder . . . who can take that kind of pressure?'"

While it is noble for human beings to aspire to freedom, if there is no flip side to that coin it will inevitably collapse in on itself. A Frank and Ernest syndicated cartoon strip (January 14, 1998) depicts Moses holding the tablets and asking God, "This isn't one of those 'Take responsibility for your own actions deals'—is it?" The flip side to the freedom coin is responsibility, without which you have the logic given by former Washington State Bar Association president Lowell Halverson, who had sexual affairs with several of his clients whom he was representing in divorce and child-support cases. Asked if his conduct was "inappropriate," Halverson called that a "value-laden word." "What is inappropriate for one person is not for another," he said. "I respect other people's values, but they don't have to be my values." (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 13, 1997).

The oft-quoted line from Dostoevksy's The Brothers Karamazov, "Where there is no God, all is permitted," comes to mind here. There are those who think that adult sexual activity with small children is morally correct; there are those who think that eliminating the weak and ill (Hitler) or the educated (Pol Pot) or the different (Hutus, Serbs, race supremacists) or the dissenting (Stalin or Mao) is correct.

Can the human population survive if it tolerates no standard of values for what is correct? Can we tolerate the concept of absolute values without thinking our freedom has been usurped? Can we find more value, meaning, direction, and gratification from a life with absolute values than without? And whose values will they be?

If the values are not God-derived, they come from fads and favorites (these days, single motherhood by choice is idealized, but moving an owl from its nesting place to make way for construction is real bad—huh?), laziness (if you actually admit that something is "wrong" you'd have to give up your comfortable life and do something about it), selfishness (what I want is automatically defined as good), and a personal desire to get away with anything under the protection of nonjudgmentalism (it's my life!).

Meet the Author

Dr. Laura Schlessinger, a licensed marriage and family therapist, is one of the most popular talk-show hosts in radio history and the only woman to win the prestigious Marconi Award for syndicated radio. She is the author of twelve New York Times bestsellers, writes a daily blog, and is a regular Newsmax columnist. She is heard daily on Sirius/XM Channel 155 live, and her program is streamed and podcast on www.drlaura.com. Dr. Schlessinger has her own YouTube Channel (YouTube.com/drlaura). She is also the skipper and driver of a racing sailboat program that won the 2010 international race from Newport Beach to Cabo San Lucas. She and her husband live in Southern California.

Rabbi Stewart Vogel is the spiritual leader of Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills, California. For twenty years he has been involved in interfaith work and was honored by the National Conference of Christians and Jews. Rabbi Vogel is the past president of the Rabbinical Assembly-Western Region and is widely recognized as a dynamic speaker, teacher, and synagogue leader. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and four children.

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Ten Commandments: The Significance of God's Laws in Everyday Life 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
in today's world, people need to refresh themselves on the principles of the 10 commandments and try to live by them. dr. laura brings out many ideas on each commandment that not everybody would think of. a little slow reading in places, but all together, a good book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
You don't have to be a Jew or Christian to find profound truth in this book. It's loaded with common sense applications of the Ten Commandments. Feel intimidated, oppressed, or hindered by the Ten Commandments? Find out how they elevate us to a higher state of being, as individuals, and as a society. Think the Ten Commandments are rigid and outdated? Find out how they apply to our everyday living today, and how their absense are reflected in our society.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Many people are familiar with what we call the ¿The Ten Commandments.¿ On the outside they seem to be just a set of rules we are commanded to live by. Once you have read this book you will realize that the underlying concepts for these rules are in fact, based on love, honor and respect. We, as humans, have a free will to choose between good and evil. This book is an attempt to influence that choice towards good, i.e., God. Dr. Laura¿s words are beautiful and inspiring. You will feel challenged, enlightened and elevated. She also says you will experience these feelings when you have made the right choices in life. By explaining each of the commandments, she takes them to their fullest conceptualization. During this process you realize God¿s plan is to give us a meaningful, just, loving and even holy life. Each principle or commandment relates to either God, family, our fellow man, love, work, charity, property, speech or thought. These laws are simply a blueprint of God¿s expectations for mankind. Dr. Laura also deals with today's real-life issues of abortion, euthanasia, gossip, manipulative behavior, etc. This book will solidify within your heart the basic moral laws for all time. This will be a book you will want to read to help you deal with peer pressure, temptation and conflicted emotions. This is a book filled with moral lessons you can apply to your life immediately. I have learned that every decision I make can give meaning to my life or diminish it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I cannot recall when I last read a more meaningful and inspiring book than this. Written with compassion and an elegant simplicity that will warm the heart and stir the soul, Dr. Schlessinger and Rabbi Vogel gently guide the reader through a comprehensive exploration of the purpose and personal significance of each of God¿s commandments in our daily lives. There is no doubt that a thoughtful reading of this book and implementation of its wisdom will greatly increase the chances for a long, fulfilling, and meaningful life; indeed, the book is excellent reading for those who might find this outcome desirable, and it is a must reading for those who would doubt that such an outcome is possible. This book also would make a superb core textbook for a 'healthy- living' course in our nation's schools.