One may think that our legislative halachos – whether they be about dinim or honoring one’s parents, or other self-understood mitzvahs – are to be understood as Hashem’s version of things which people naturally understand. A very famous question asked about the 10 commandments is, why is the mitzvah of honoring one’s parents on the first tablet, as the other commandments on this tablet are laws between Man and his Creator. Honoring one’s parents would be a better fit on the second tablet, as that tablet deals with issues between man and his fellow man. The answer that is given is that honoring one’s parents is actually not a commandment between man and his fellow man, rather we are honoring G-d’s emissaries in bringing about our birth.
In regard to the mitzvah of Talmud Torah, the gemora in Brochos tells us that one is obligated to learn under the same emotional reverence as at Mount Sinai. This halacha seems to be more than a directive on how to perform mitzvahs. It gives us an appreciation and understanding that even the Torah – which we seemingly understand – is no less of an interaction with G-d than the moment that the thunder and lightning enshrouded the first commandment “I am Hashem your G-d”.
There is a disagreement in customs if one is obligated to stand when the 10 commandments are read publicly in the synagogue. The issue revolves around whether there is something special about the 10 commandments, giving it a higher status than the rest of the Torah, or maybe it has nothing to do with the 10 commandments having an elevated status.
The custom in most communities seems to be to stand when the actual 10 commandments are being read. To us, it should at least be a reminder that even though we are not always able to learn Torah in the proper stance that is necessary, at least when we re-enact our first experience of Torah learning, we should try to do it in a proper way. Just as we try to act more meticulously on Rosh Hashanah than we do the rest of the year (though we know sins are forbidden all year long), at least when we recite the portion of Torah, which was a model of how to learn, at that time we should stand in reverence.
Baruch Hashem in our shul we pride ourselves that the decibel level from speaking is usually zero. However, being that the yetzer hara works overtime to try to get us to let down our guard, I would suggest the following for this week. Aside from acknowledging the proper stance during the reading of the Torah, we should also reinforce our stance throughout all of our davening, standing with the reverence that one would have in his initial audience with the Omnipresent.