Parsha Yisro – The Ten Step Program of Recovery

Parsha Yisro

The Ten Step Program of Recovery!

“On the third day when it was morning, there was Thunder and Lightning and a Heavy Cloud on The Mountain, and the Sound of the Shofar was very powerful, and the entire people that was in the camp shuddered” (Exodus/Shemos 19:16)

We are are continuing our weekly Series:

Today, we are learning, how Parsha Yisro speaks to those who seek Serenity and Recovery.

Can you even imagine the DRAMA, the ANTICIPATION, the EXCITEMENT that must have been felt by every man, woman and child at Mt. Sinai on the day that G-d came down to give the Jewish People the TEN COMMANDMENTS?!

These are the same people that G-d “took out of Egypt” as lowly, poor slaves who have within 49 days have been transformed to be worthy to be the only generation ever – before and up until this day – that collectively heard and experienced the Almighty firsthand.

Our sages compare The Giving of the Ten Commandments to the experience of a husband and wife as they meet and exchange vows under the Chupah.  Before, each of them were single and independent – then with Seven Blessings and the exchange of one ring – Presto – the couple is married.  So too, the Children of  Israel are compared to the Bride and Hashem to the Groom.  And Forever, they lived happily every after!

Well maybe not!  In fact, it was only 39 1/2 days later that the Children of Israel started to worship idols and engage in promiscuity.  It is evident that they violated nine out of the ten Commandments!!  Oy Veh…

Maybe we can get a better understanding about the inclination of the Human Basic Drives.  And we can answer a nagging question of why G-d chose these and only these 10 Commandments.  Perhaps we will see how G-d Almighty knew a lot about human nature, the evil inclination and how the 10 Commandments are the antidote!

As they say, “to begin, we have to look at the end.”  So let’s look at the 2nd five of the Ten Commandments, Exodus 20:1-21

6. You shall not murder.

7. You shall not commit adultery.

8. You shall not steal.

9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

NOW, let’s consider what the Parsha can teach those seeking Character Development and Recovery...

As it says on Page 30 of the Big Book:

“We are convinced to a man that addicts of our type are in the grip of a progressive illness.”

Bill Wilson, in his remarkable understanding of human nature and the process of addiction notes that addicts have this “idea that somehow, someday they will control and enjoy their compulsive behavior” – (be it alcohol, food, lust, work, shopping, smart phones, social media and more.)  The persistence of this illusion is astonishing.  Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death!”

Now let’s take a deeper look at the last half of the Ten Commandments.  And you may need to stand on your head to understand this insight.  Or I’ll help you by showing you the last half of the Ten Commandments in reverse.  There is a very profound message in reversing the exact order of Steps number Ten thru Six.  So let’s use one of the most fundamental Tools of Logic.  It’s called “Cause and Effect.”  Researchers tell us that Cause and Effect is the natural order that connects one process ( the cause) with another process (the effect), where the first is partly responsible for the second, and the second is partly dependent on the first.  Did you get that?

I think you’ll be amazed when we apply Cause and Effect to the last five of the Ten Commandments.  By reversing the order, we will see what a Progressive Illness we face

10. If you covet your neighbor’s house – his wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor…

Which will likely Cause you to…

9. Give false testimony against your neighbor…(so you can get closer to his wife!)

Which will likely Cause you to…

8. Steal…(his wife!)

Which will likely Cause you to…

7. Commit adultery…(with his wife!)

Which will likely Cause you to…

6. MURDER!!! (her husband – maybe not physically, our Sages teach us that when we embarrass a man, it is as if we murdered him.  Can you imagine a greater embarrassment than to have your wife commit adultery with your neighbor?!)

Bill Wilson wasn’t the first one to understand what it’s like to be in the grip of a progressive illness.  Now it makes perfect sense why The Almighty gave us the last half of the Ten Commandments in such an ideal arrangement!  Our Sages teach us that “Snuis” – Promiscuity is compared to Avoda Zara!  Hashem also knew that if He didn’t give us the structure of the “Second Tablet” – which are the laws of ben adam l’chavaro-between a man and his fellow man…we will quickly come to violate the laws of ben adam l’makombetween man and G-d!!

The 12 Step Program has brought Recovery and Sobriety to literally millions of those trapped in Compulsive Behaviors and addiction since 1939.  Isn’t it time that we commit to learning this simple program of ACTION – as it is called.  By doing so, we can break free of our Compulsive Behaviors and personal bondage to our disease!

By learning the Program and with G-d’s help, we can clear our head of our self-centered character defects and finally bring into alignment our positive thoughts with positive actions!!

PS – A quick Vort:  In Chapter 20, verse 1 – precisely right before we heard the Ten Commandments from Hashem is written:

וידבר אלקים את כל הדברים האלה לאמר

“And G-d spoke all these statements…saying:”

As you know from reading many verses in the Torah,it is often written, “And G-d spoke to Moses, saying.”  Why the double language?  Why does the verse need to say “spoke” and “saying.”  Isn’t it redundant?  Wouldn’t we have know that when G-d “spoke” to Moses that G-d was also “saying?” The commentators teach us that Moses had a job as the greatest Prophet of all time and as the Teacher to the Jewish People – that whatever G-d “spoke” to Moses, that he would then “say” it over to the Jewish People.”

But at this monumental moment, when the Ten Commandments were being given over to the nation –  G-d SPOKE DIRECTLY TO EVERY JEWISH MAN, WOMAN AND CHILD.  Moses did not need to be an intermediary!  So the question is why verse 1 needed to end by using the word “Saying?”  It just isn’t necessary!

It seems to me that there was a much deeper message that G-d was giving to all of us!  That since this was the first and last time that G-d spoke directly to all of us – and we were on the level, at that moment of Moses…that forever it is our obligation to “SAY” THESE WORDS OVER TO OUR CHILDREN AND OUR CHILDREN TO THEIR CHILDREN IN AN UNBROKEN CHAIN TO US TODAY AND FOREVER!!  May we all merit to take our place in the long line of teachers – like “Moshe Rabeinu” to teach all our offspring the Wisdom and the Beauty of the Eternal Torah…AMEN!

Shabbat Shalom

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(ps. if you have a personal story or chiddush, you would like to share, I am looking for “guest” contributors to post.)