10 Speech Acts/Divine Utterances

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Deborah Koff-Chapin
Center for Touch Drawing 
Deborah Koff-Chapin | Center for Touch Drawing

1. YHVH is Your God

YHVH is the transformative power of the universe that brought you out of the narrow consciousness of slavery and constriction. All life is a manifestation of the Divine. Transformative liberation is always possible.

2. The Divine is Unknowable

Do not get distracted by or honor the idols of your time. Do not bow down to or attach yourself to those idols because if you do, you will see the world in a static way rather than recognizing the possibility of possibilities that lives within all life forms. Do not sculpt any image in the likeness of the Divine because there is nothing in the universe that compares to the amazing unfolding of the cosmic consciousness. There are some things that are just unknowable, beyond imagination. 

3. Respect Diverse Beliefs

Be respectful of the spiritual and religious beliefs and practices of others that preach love and respect for the Other; honor that there are many paths to the Divine. Recognize that Jews are not any better than others and our path is only one of many ways that people have heard the universe speak to them. 

4. Safeguard Shabbat

Shabbat is a precious time for you to connect with what is awe-inspiring and sacred in your life and in the world. Six days you shall work. The seventh day is a holy day for joy and wonder. You, everyone in your home, and anyone who works for you should be free to enjoy the precious time off and be treated with honor and dignity. Have compassion and empathy for yourself and others – remember you were once slaves and in partnership with the transformative power you obtained liberation. Remember to protect and struggle for the freedom of others.

5. Honor Your Mother and Father

Recognize and honor where you came from. Aging is a challenging process, particularly in a society that idolizes youth and fails to provide adequate care for the elderly. Care for and support your parents as best as you are able. All people are perfectly imperfect, including those who raised you. Forgive them while also respecting your needs for safety and security.

6. Recognize the Sanctity of All Life

Speak out against and resist all actions that desecrate life, whether committed by individuals, communities, governments, or due to social systems and structures of oppression and exploitation. 

7. Be Honest in Your Words and Actions

Honor the sanctity of diverse sexual expression and relationships. Be impeccable in your words and actions in your sexual relationships with others. Build committed relationships.

8. Respect People and the Planet

Pay what things actually cost in living wages and planetary resources. Share your resources with others. Given the unjust distribution of the world’s resources, practice generosity and advocate for an equitable and sustainable distribution of the world’s resources. 

9. Be Honest

Speak and demand truth in all spheres – home, corporations, and government. Live in integrity. Avoid speaking about others, let them tell their own stories and speak for themselves. 

10. Practice and Know Enoughness

Ethically and consciously consume, being aware that we live on a finite planet that cannot sustain excessive consumption of the world’s resources. Recognize that you have enough, you are enough, and that we can build a world where there is enough for everyone.

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Rabbi Cat Zavis is a passionate shaper of Jewish rituals and services that inspire and draw connections between the spiritual, personal, and political. She is a spiritual social justice activist, attorney, and visionary leader with over 20 years experience in empathic and people-centered leadership and collaboration. A sought after facilitator and trainer in nonviolent communication, prophetic empathy, collaboration, and conflict resolution, she has over 25 years experience working with and helping people understand our shared needs and how to challenge manifestations of othering and build beloved communities of belonging. As co-editor of Tikkun magazine she has both written articles and helped shape the magazine; as Executive Director of the Network of Spiritual Progressives she has trained over 1000 people in Prophetic Empathy and Revolutionary Love.

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