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The mores present in today’s Western world seem to suggest that the Ten Commandments are, at best, recommendations but certainly not legal or moral mandatory obligations. The commandments that relate to money and to sexual probity are publicly violated, almost with impunity, on a seemingly daily basis.  This is true with regard to all religious groups, including ours as well.

One would have thought that after more than thirty-three hundred years of human experience regarding these matters, the message of Sinai would have finally taken root in the Jewish and human soul. But apparently we are still standing before that desert mountain awaiting Divine instruction as to how to conduct our behavior and our lives.
We said that we would do and we would listen but in reality our commitment was not absolute and our moral compass is still not properly adjusted. Hence, we are aware of everything that is still happening all around us. The obsessive nature of shopping and the ever-futile pursuit of entertainment and escapism have sapped the vitality and holiness of the Shabbat in the Jewish world, and of any day of rest in human society generally. 
Murder is an everyday acceptable occurrence and the warped amongst us even justify its commitment by hiding behind the name of God. And honoring parents and elders is passé, a relic of ancient ideas and bygone societies. So, one can easily see that there is not much left of the Ten Commandments in the modern world.
But, we should not be overly discouraged by all of the above. After all, God has not given up on us so why should we do so. The prophet Malachi has taught us: ‘I the Lord God have not changed.’  There are no other sets of commandments from God to the human race and to the Jewish people – and the proof of that statement lies in the fact that ‘….you, the children of Yaakov have not been destroyed.’ The Jewish people remain eternal.
As far as God is concerned, so to speak, the Ten Commandments remain obligatory and enforceable through God’s will. King Solomon warned us in Kohelet never to say that previous times were better than our days are now. All generations rose against the Ten Commandments, violated them and disregarded their practical and moral import. But the Ten Commandments have survived all attempts to ignore, modify or even forget them.
Instinctively, we are aware that they are in force and set the bar by which we are to measure ourselves and assess our actions. Thus the revelation at Sinai was not a one-off event. In the words of Avot, the echo of Sinai reverberates daily in the universe that we inhabit. The Ten Commandments are not past advice. They are current instructions and mandatory obligations, a loving Torah that speaks to our generation and its challenges and problems. We would certainly be wiser and happier if we heeded its words and absorbed its eternal moral messages.
Shabbat shalom
Rabbi Berel Wein

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