We present ourselves uniquely dependent upon the circumstance we find ourselves. To many, I am a Rabbi. In my home, I am a husband and father. When visiting my parents and siblings, I am a son and a brother. And yet, no matter where I go, I am still myself.
The Ten Commandments begins with the words anochi Adonai eloheicha: I am the Lord your God. Is this a commandment? The 12th century Daat Zekenim explained that this statement is a fact and not a belief. Rabbi Tanchuma comments that the obligation of this fact is the direct result of the people witnessing God’s miracles, the warrior God who split the sea and a merciful God at Mount Sinai. Lest we think that these two distinct powers are two different gods, this is not true; anochi Adonai eloheicha, I am the Lord your God.
As a Rabbi, I have the privilege of standing on a bima looking out into the congregation. What I witness most of all are individuals having discrete relationships with God. One person may be in mourning, another person may be celebrating, and another may be searching. Yet, when they look at the ark in the sanctuary, they will see the first words of the Ten Commandments, anochi. I am. Each person is having a relationship with the same God. The late Rabbi Jonathan Sacks writes in his book Morality that the goal of a sacred community is to transform from “I” to “we.” We cannot simply exist in the same time period and in the same place. Rather, we must recognize that morality and Godliness is what binds us together at our core. As we recite the Ten Commandments this Shabbat, may we explore our Godly relationships in depth, seeking to acknowledge God’s presence in an often blurry world.