What does God's voice say? On the one hand it speaks with redeeming beauty; it restores the soul. But on the other, it speaks in questions, it never fails to interrogate, piercing to the essence of who we are. It is as if the sequel to, "I am the Lord your God," were, "And who are you? What are you doing in my world?"

The questions are always the same, but no two of us hear them in the same manner, and no one of us experiences them in the same way at two different points in our life. Sometimes, in the rush of all we do, in the middle of the tasks that occupy our time, the questions merge with the voice that asks us what the point of all this running around really is.

Sometimes the questions ask themselves in the silence before the consciousness of a great decision. Perhaps the people who brought Anne Frank food during those two years of hiding heard those questions and knew that they could live with them. Perhaps the unknown person who phoned the Gestapo and gave the family away smothered himself with constant himself with constant noise because he was afraid to hear them. Perhaps the questions will reach us at the end of our days; perhaps we will attai the wisdom to answer, "Here am I," content to return to the eternity out of which our atomized consciousness was drawn forth at our beginning.

While we live, the voice, and the questions which follow it, command us. That is why the simple statement, "I am the Lord your God," stands at the entrance to the Ten Commandments. We may or may not believe that in the formulation in which we have them the commandments are literally God's word, unsullied by human intervention. We may prefer to think, like Franz Rosenzweig, that everything that follows the basic declaration of God's presence is interpretation. But the command is real either way. "Nature itself prevents a person from sinning," teaches the Sefat Emet, for when we experience the presence of God in anything, in our fellow human beings, in animals, plants, or even things, what can we feel but utter respect, what can we do but strive to honor it? When we are touched by the knowledge of God, how can we really want to hurt or to destroy?