Columns - 2008

    Proscription refill

    by Doug Brook
    Deep South Jewish Voice columnist

    The book of Exodus (by the Big G, not by Leon Uris) tells us that the Israelites were a sinful, complaining bunch who were a big headache for their leaders. (This tradition lives on today in Jewish communities and organizations around the world.)

    As a result, Moses went up Mount Sinai where the Big G gave him his now-famous tablets and said, "Take two, and call me every morning."

    Moses returned from the mountain ready to face the people. But he returned to find that the people had built a golden calf. His headache suddenly worsened, Moses smashed up the tablets forgetting that they were to be taken whole.

    Moses then returned up the mountain for a refill. Of course, this time the Big G also gave Moses a long speech about following his proscription exactly, the original sermon on the Mount.

    According to the Torah, the Ten Commandments were recited from the first set of tablets, and later on the second tablets had the same words on them as the first.

    However, according to the recently discovered, long-lost Mishnah tractate Bava Gump this is a slight abridgment of actual events.

    The commandments known today are actually the second set of commandments as written on the second tablets. Before Moses misread the directions and smashed the first set, the commandments as they really appeared on the first tablets were kinder and more positive in tone.

    Of course, Bava Gump reveals to us what those original commandments were:

    1. Are you there, Margaret? It's me, the Big G.

    2. Keep people from putting their idols before me. Some of them are really tall and might block the sign.

    3. When you say my name, mean it. Note that even if you mean it, not all requests to damn something or someone are granted, and they are handled in the order they are received.

    4. Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy by going undefeated on it. Roll Tide.

    5. Be as good to your parents as you'll someday wish your kids would be to you.

    6. Live and let live.

    7. Keep your spouse happy, first and foremost. Your own spouse.

    8. What's mine is yours, what's yours is yours, what's theirs is theirs. And don't take something from the fridge at work if it has someone else's name on it.

    9. If you like something of your neighbor's, ask him where he got it. If it's his wife you like, just ask if she has a sister. Or a single clone.

    10. Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you Me. Just the facts.

    The Torah also says that the words were written on both sides of the tablets, front and back. According to Midrash, the letters were burned all the way through the tablets but the Big G's power made them readable from both sides.

    Bava Gump reveals a simpler answer: There are more commandments on the back.

    In fact, if you saw the back of any Ten Commandments in any synagogue worldwide, you'd see them. Of course, you cannot do that without desecrating the synagogue. Please do not attempt this. They'll blame the media.

    So, for the first time in the public eye, Bava Gump reveals what's written on the back of every set of Ten Commandments in the world:

    11. I am not done yet. To help save the environment, I have used both sides. (Note: With this knowledge, the Nazis would have gained an undesirable edge in "Raiders of the Lost Ark.")

    12. These commandments are inscribed on recycled tablets. Thank you, Moses.

    13. Do not take anything in the vein, unless prescribed by your physician.

    14. Remember Election Day and keep it wholesome.

    15. Honor your grandfather and grandmother. They always have candy.

    16. Do not kill a perfectly good weekend.

    17. Do not squint.

    18. Do not write in fine print. It makes people squint, and makes lawyers lots of money.

    19. Do not bare yourself in "Witness" in front of your neighbor. (The meaning of this was a mystery until Kelly McGillis appeared in the 1985 film with Harrison Ford.)

    20. Made in Taiwan.

    Doug Brook is a writer in Silicon Valley who wonders if anyone will post this column in their classroom or courthouse. For more information, past columns, other writings, and more, visit

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.