Judaism is a Wisdom tradition. It encapsulates the Wisdom of Yahweh given in the Instructions of the Torah. In the ANE (Ancient Near East) and possibly everywhere, wisdom was the most significant trait a King or Ruler would have. It is what creates order, and order creates a prosperous Kingdom. Wisdom is a trait we do not admire in leadership in today’s day and age.
There are 613 commandments in the Torah, with around two-thirds dealing with Temple worship. The Romans destroyed the Temple in 70 CE. The theocracy could not exist without a Temple, leaving only around 270 applicable commandments. Do you like how I said “only”? The ten commandments, actually called the ten words, are the culmination of the instructions of the Torah. You could even consolidate the entire Torah into two commandments, Love God. Love People. We can read about the Ten Words in Exodus 20:3-17
~With all your heart, mind, and resources (strength)
~Honor the Shabbat
~Do not carry His Name in vain
~Do not make and worship idols
~Honor mom and dad
~Do not lie
~Do not steal
~Do not murder
~Do not covet
~Do not be unfaithful
All the Torah of Moshe (Moses) and the Torah of Yeshua (Jesus) consolidate into one commandment; Love your fellow human as you love yourself.
“That which is hateful to you do not do to another; that is the entire Torah, and the rest is its interpretation. Go study.” (Shabbat 31a Talmud, Hizkuni, Leviticus 19:18.5, 13th c. France)
“For the whole Torah can be summed up in a single saying: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” ~Galatians 5:14
You may think, how could anyone observe 270 commandments? An easier way of understanding is that if you break the commandment not to steal, there are, say, twenty laws that tell you how to make restitution. The majority of the Torah is about repair. You are repairing breaches between you and God and between you and humans.
In the mental health field, you will learn that conflict within relationships is inevitable. Your reaction to the conflict can create a stronger bond or create more distance in the relationship. The same thing happens spiritually. We can either strengthen our connection to the Holy One with repentance and a change in behavior, or we can widen the divide. We can either make things right between our fellow homies through restitution, or we can create a greater disconnect.
This monotheistic faith is about learning how to be a good human, or more specifically, to be the human that God created you to be. I love how W.C. Smith, author of Faith and Belief: The Difference Between Them, describes faith;
“…a quality of the person, … an orientation of the personality, to oneself, to one’s neighbor, to the universe; a total response; a way of seeing whatever one sees and of handling whatever one handles; a capacity to live at a more than mundane level; to see, to feel, to act in terms of, a transcendent dimension.”(Smith, pg. 12)
A few years ago, we went to a wedding in Mexico. While there, a sweet friend named Amy said, “In tough situations, I like to ask myself, what would love do?” What would love do? This has always stuck with me as it is a beautiful culmination of this faith.