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Are the Ten Commandments more important than the rest of the commandments?

by Mrs. Dinka Kumer


Library » Torah » 10 Commandments | Subscribe | What is RSS?


There are a total of 613 commandments in the Torah (including the most famous Ten), and ALL enable us to serve G-d. Judaism is emphatic to point out that a “small” Mitzvah is no less important than a “big” mitzvah. Though believing in G-d’s Omnipotence and Providence may seem loftier than turning off a refrigerator light before Shabbat, both of these mitzvahs are required components in fulfilling G-d’s word. G-d wants us to perform all the commandments, and each one constitutes His eternal wishes of us.

In summary: these specific Ten Commandments are not more important than the rest of the commandments.

So what’s all the hullabaloo about the Big Ten? After all, G-d did choose to deliver these ten – and only these ten – amidst a big show at Mt. Sinai in front of all the Jewish people!

The Ten Commandments are general and inclusive commandments which have the other 603 Torah commandments incorporated within them. In these Ten one can find the root of all the other commandments.

For example, one single commandment may encompass a detailed set of specific laws (“Keep the Shabbat holy” includes the 39 labors prohibited on Shabbat and their derivations); or it may hint to a whole gamut of laws which are only alluded to within the general commandment (“Do not steal” branches into laws about kidnapping, deception, border encroachment, cheating, and more).

Parenthetically, these Ten can be further condensed into the first two: “I am the Lord your G-d” and “Have no gods before Me,” from which all other “thou shall” or “thou shall not” commandments are derived. Going further, these two can be condensed into the first commandment itself: “I am the Lord,” since the second commandment is a direct derivation of this first one. And, according to mysticism, this first commandment may be further condensed into its opening word “I” (Anochi), and this, too, may be further condensed into its own first Hebrew letter, “aleph.” (Thus when a small child learns the very first letter of the aleph-bet, he or she is learning the whole Torah encapsulated in one single letter!)

This “condensing” is similar to how DNA in one cell actually includes instructions for how to make a whole body. Each one of those tiny and super sensitive genes is a building block for the fully developed system. Similarly, encoded within the Ten Commandments are the rest of G-d’s commandments to us. 


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Mitzvot » 10 Commandments
Holidays » Shavuot » 10 Commandments

(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.