Hearing of the miracles that Hashem performed for Bnei Yisrael, Moshe's father-in-law Yitro arrives with Moshe's wife and sons, reuniting the family in the wilderness. Yitro is so impressed by Moshe's detailing of the Exodus from Egypt that he converts to Judaism. Seeing that the only judicial authority for the entire Jewish nation is Moshe Rabbeinu, Yitro suggests that subsidiary judges be appointed to adjudicate smaller matters, leaving Moshe free to attend to larger issues. Moshe accepts his advice.
The Jewish People arrive at Mount Sinai, where Hashem offers them the Torah. Once they accept, Hashem charges Moshe to instruct the people not to approach the mountain, and to prepare for three days. On the third day, amidst thunder and lightning, Hashem's voice emanates from the smoke-enshrouded mountain, and He speaks to the Jewish People, giving them the Ten Commandments:
- Believe in Hashem.
- Do not worship other "gods".
- Do not use Hashem's name in vain.
- Observe Shabbat.
- Honor your parents.
- Do not murder.
- Do not commit adultery.
- Do not kidnap.
- Do not testify falsely.
- Do not covet.
After receiving the first two commandments, the Jewish People, overwhelmed by this experience of the Divine, request that Moshe relay Hashem's word to them. Hashem instructs Moshe to caution the Jewish People not to draw close to the mountain or touch any part of it.
The Company We Keep
“You shall not commit adultery.”(20:13)
According to Canadian psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson, one of the major factors that drove the development of online technology was the proclivity of young men, specifically engineers, many of whom ended up at Google, to search out inappropriate content. Those same algorithms that enable to you find out about almost anything in the world, were spawned by a bunch of male geeks who wanted to fill their basest desires.
One of the things that, for many, has become increasingly difficult to do, is to function without online access. I remember a dozen or so years ago, driving my Rebbe to pick up a credit card from his bank. He must have been over seventy at the time, and he had never had, or needed to have, a credit card. Then, all of a sudden, the airline companies insisted that every passenger had to have a credit card. Nowadays, getting on a plane without a smartphone is a real challenge to one’s ingenuity and patience. It has gotten to the point where an avreich (fulltime married Torah scholar) who wouldn’t be seen dead with a smartphone, virtually has to travel with someone who does.
“You shall not commit adultery.” By definition, this commandment refers only to cohabitation with a married woman, but there are many subsidiary levels to it, one of which is the incitement to lust through the eyes.
Whatever the future holds for online usage, and however more sophisticated and user-friendly are the filters that many employ, let us not forget how it all began and exactly in whose company we are.