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10 Commandments

The 10 Commandments (or Aseret Hadibrot, “The Ten Statements,” in Hebrew) were communicated by G‑d to the people of Israel at Mount Sinai, 40 days after the Exodusfrom Egypt. The event is known as the Giving of the Torah. G‑d then carved the Ten Commandments onto two tablets of stone, which he gave to Moses. The Ten Commandments are not the entirety of G‑d’s instructions for His people (there are 613 commandments). However, they contain within them the kernel from which the others emerge.

1. I am the L-rd your G‑d … 6. You shall not murder.
2. You shall have no gods … 7. You shall not commit adultery.
3. You shall not take the name of the L-rd your G‑d in vain … 8. You shall not steal.
4. Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy … 9. You shall not bear false witness …
5. Honor your father and mother … 10. You shall not covet your neighbor's house …


Note that we can read the commandments down each tablet, or we can read them from side to side. 

Commandments 1 and 6: Every human is created in the image of G‑d, so murder is an affront to the Creator.

Commandments 2 and 7: When one worships a deity other than G‑d, it is as akin to adultery. G‑d is our loving spouse (and much more).

Commandments 3 and 8: A person may feel that stealing is only between him and the victim, but it is also a crime against G‑d, whose name will ultimately be taken falsely.

Commandments 4 and 9: Through keeping Shabbat, we testify that G‑d created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. When one disregards Shabbat, he testifies falsely about the Divine origin of the universe.

Commandments 5 and 10: The juxtaposition of jealousy and honoring parents tell us that one who lusts after that which is not his, will ultimately give birth to a child who curses his parents and honors others instead.

Looking at the two tablets, you’ll notice that in addition to the commandments on the second tablet being much shorter, the subject is different than the commandments on the first tablet. The commandments on the first tablet are about spiritual matters, between man and the Creator. The commandments on the second tablet, however, seem to be about material matters, with no apparent connection to G‑d or spiritual pursuits. In fact, while every one of the first five commandments includes G‑d’s name, His name is not mentioned once in the second set of five.

Yet all the commandments are given equal weight, because embedded in these simple acts of decency is the formula for G‑d’s plan for the world. Indeed, if you add up all the (Hebrew) words on the second tablet, you’ll arrive at the number 26, the numerical value of G‑d’s ineffable name. Below the surface, G‑d is as present in this set of commandments as He is in the ones where He is overtly mentioned

Mon, April 22 2024 14 Nisan 5784