TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Shavuot: A Holiday For The Rule Of Law

ShavuotWall Street Journal op-ed:  Shavuot: A Holiday for the Rule of Law, by Joe Lieberman (Former U.S. Senator (D-CT)):

[Lawyers] play a crucial role in maintaining the rule of law, which creates order. A good legal system makes the difference between a civilized society and a chaotic one, and it all began when God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai.

For Jews, now is the perfect time of year—between Passover and the much less observed holiday of Shavuot—to contemplate the role of law in our lives.

In the Bible, the exodus from Egypt is not an insulated experience. It is part of a larger cycle that goes from slavery in Egypt, to freedom in the desert, to the Ten Commandments. Every year, religiously observant Jews count the 49 days from Passover to Shavuot, which begins this Saturday evening. The former holiday emphasizes liberty, the latter law. These values balance each other, which is why it’s unfortunate that so few people who observe Passover continue to Shavuot. ...

How do the children of Israel serve God? By accepting and obeying a code of law, the Ten Commandments. Freedom is not enough. Liberty without law leads to chaos, immorality and violence. Law without liberty is what the Israelites endured under Pharaoh’s tyrannical rule.

As in Noah’s time, people have a birthright to freedom but they also need laws to protect their freedom, provide them with security and help them maintain their values. That is clearly God’s plan. ...

There is a lot to think about, discuss and act on during Shavuot, the Festival of the Ten Commandments. This year, whether you are Jewish or not, try considering how you can advance the ideals of the Ten Commandments in your personal and public life—in your community, in this country and throughout this beautiful planet.

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