The Forgotten Commandment

Locked in a vacuum-sealed glass tube, stowed away for centuries in the Vatican Secret Archives, is a manuscript appearing to be an animal rights fable but containing a dire prophetic message about humanity’s destruction of the world’s environment. Will it help humans to finally wake up and save life on the earth? The Forgotten Commandment is a work of historical eco-fiction. It braids together a genuine thousand-year-fable, written first in Arabic by Muslim Sufis and, in this story, protected by the Jewish Aboab clan beginning at the time of the First Crusade in Jerusalem, traveling to twentieth century Europe and surviving the deadly perils of World War II, then reappearing in the present, when a pair of young scholars rediscover the manuscript and succeed in revealing it to the world. A story for our times, The Forgotten Commandment is deeply researched and enriched with true historical events and the lives of actual people. The characters contend with the many challenges and evils that humanity has created: tyranny, anti-Semitism, prejudice, enslavement and destruction of animals, and the apathy of the majority. In the end, this book shines with hope as humanity begins to change the path we have been treading.


“We are creatures of violence toward one another, and savage plunderers of kindred beings. Might we instead become the wisest of creatures? The most generous? Truly human? Drawing upon deep reservoirs or religious tradition, Anson Laytner creatively and deftly draws the straight lines between our contempt for human life and for the lives of our beyond-human kin. All this in a compact book that reads like a good mystery you don’t want to put down. I didn’t.”
— Rev. Carla V. Pryne, Episcopal priest, co-founder, Earth Ministry

“In this era of religious misunderstanding, The Forgotten Commandment, a beautiful tale of harmonious relationships among the peoples of the Abrahamic faiths, comes as a balm for the soul. A riveting story filled with drama and intrigue, Anson Laytner weaves together tidbits of little-known Jewish history with psychological insight and pearls of the Bible’s universal wisdom. Laytner accomplishes all this while bringing forth an authentic spiritual ecological message in a compelling and accessible way—so needed in the world at this time.”
—Rabbi Ellen Bernstein, z”l, founder, Shomrei Adamah

“Anson Laytner’s engaging tale leads the reader on a journey through Jewish history to explore questions about humanity’s capacities for both evil and righteousness. As our world teeters on the edge of ecological disaster, we are all like the young people at the center of this story–challenged to balance personal desires and responsibilities with the call to action at the speed and scale demanded by the climate crisis.
— Mirele B. Goldsmith, co-founder, Jewish Earth Alliance

The Forgotten Commandments reads like a suspense novel that kept me interested from beginning to end. It has a challenging, hopeful message that can raise environmental awareness during this critical time and help shift our imperiled planet onto a sustainable path.”
—Richard H. Schwartz, president emeritus, Jewish Vegetarians of North America