Columns - 2002

    News on command

    By Doug Brook
    Deep South Jewish Voice Columnist

    Mount Sinai, Sinai Dessert, 90210 -- (Transcript from a live report.)

    "Here we are again, live from Mount Sinai. It's been three very exciting days here. Everyone's eager with anticipation for what will be the first top ten list in recorded history, if you don't include my shopping list from last week. Apparently the sages won't include it, so to each his own.

    "The last word from Moses before he ascended the mountain again earlier this week was to tell everyone to stay pure, be ready for the third day, and to not go near women.

    "This morning started with a thunder and lightning storm. Remember, we're in the desert, so this was a little strange. But that was nothing next to the cloud of smoke that's covered the mountain. We'll pan the camera over now so you can see the mountain still surrounded in a thick mist.

    "Reports say that the Lord has actually come down to the top of the mountain, but it's unclear what that might actually mean. If we can get more details, we'll certainly pass them along. But it's been difficult to get the inside story because Moses warned us that anyone who tried to take a peak through the smoke or to approach the mountain too close would die. That drives this reporter to conclude that none of the ten commandments will guarantee freedom of the press.

    "Wait a moment, we're getting something here now. We are now getting word of what's being said on the mountain. This is being passed along, I'm not exactly sure how it's coming to everyone. Hopefully they will eventually bring all the details down in writing.

    "Yes, we've just heard the first commandment. Well, that really sounds more like a declaration, don't you think? I'll try to get verification that it really counts. Just kind of a statement that He's the Big G and a reminder that He brought us from Egypt to here. Considering how hot it is out here again today, I'm not sure that was the best way to win this crowd over.

    "No time for follow-up now, though. Here's the second commandment. We shall have no other gods before Him. I don't think 'before' means prior to, since there's not much we could do about that now.

    "I'm guessing 'before' means to take priority in front of. Sorry. There was more to that commandment but I didn't hear it as I was reporting. Something about not making graven images. We'll have to get the details and report them later.

    "But that's rather obvious. I mean, what are we going to do? Come to the middle of the desert, melt down our jewelry and make a big farm animal to worship or something?

    "Just a minute... Oww! God ! A snake just came real close to biting my leg. I swear to god, if I see that thing again I'm stepping on it...

    "But not now because here's the third commandment. Do not take the Lord's name in vain. Can someone in the newsroom consult Legal and see if I'm in trouble now? I mean, it was the snake's fault.

    "Get back to me on that, because they're really on a roll now. Here comes the fourth commandment. Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. I'm not sure I heard that right. Did they say "remember" or "guard"? Hey, in Hebrew they sound similar. Well, there's really no surprise here. With all the talk about the seventh day of creation being a day of rest, something like this was expected.

    "It looks like the sages who were talking about inventing that date tracking device were right on. In a supplemental report later, we'll take you inside the process of inventing what they're now calling the 'calendar'. My parents didn't believe it would go anywhere, but they never really believe in these things...

    "But enough on that, here comes the fifth commandment. Honor your father and mother... Well ,of course I meant nothing by that before. But at least I mentioned them on network television. I need to do something for Mother's Day real soon, don't I..."

    "Well, it sounds now like they want to wrap up this session, though they're only halfway through the commandments. Yes, it looks like they're about to rattle off the rest of them. Why they might have decided to stop giving details is subject to speculation.

    "Number six is don't kill. Well, that's pretty straightforward. Hopefully it doesn't include snakes. If that dumb asp comes near me again...

    "Number seven says don't commit adultery. Yes, that's an exact, unadulterated quote. Thank you, I'll be here all weekend. I crack me up.

    "But before I fall to pieces I should tell you that we now have word on the eighth commandment. Yes, you should not steal. No qualifier there. Just to be on the safe side, you better not steal anything at all.

    "Did you hear that, Rosenbaum? I know you've been taking my Sunday paper every week. I'll catch you one of these weeks.

    "And I won't have to worry about the ninth commandment when I do. It says you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. We both know the truth, I won't have to lie. Get your own subscription!

    "And while you're at it, Rosenbaum, remember the seventh commandment along with the tenth. Stop stealing glances at my wife! You heard me. The tenth commandment says no coveting. So, stop leering every time you see me in my pool room, and eyes off the missus.

    "But I'll tell you what. If you have a problem with that I'll let you break the last part of the commandment. You can covet my ass!

    "There you have it. The ten commandments have been given. There's more thunder and lightning now. I guess that's a sign that the show's over for now. We'll keep you apprised of any late-breaking developments. Until then , reporting live from Mount Sinai on my first assignment, this is Walter Cronkite.

    "Thank you, and good night."

    Doug Brook is a technical writer in Silicon Valley. His play Retrograde is in the 8 Tens @ 8 Festival anthology, available everywhere. For more information, online ordering, an archive of past columns and other writings, visit his website at

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.