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What are the Ten Commandments?

by Rabbi Mendy Hecht

  

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A. The Torah is mankind’s morality manual. The Ten Commandments are its master categories. The other 603 are sub-categories.

B. Religion is the relationship between Man and G-d. Morality is the relationship between Man and Man. Judaism is both—that’s why five of the Commandments are on religious practices and five are on morality issues.

C. OK, the commandments:

1) Believe in G-d,

2) Don’t worship idols or entities outside of G-d; don’t create, bow to, or worship an image or statue of any physical representation of G-d,

3) Don’t take G-d’s name in vain,

4) Observe Shabbat,

5) Honor your parents,

6) Don’t murder,

7) Don’t commit adultery,

8) Don’t kidnap,

9) Don’t testify as a false witness, and

10) Don’t be jealous of anything someone else has.

What is the significance of the Ten Commandments?

1. It’s Spiritual

So you want spirituality? Here’s how to get it, says G-d in the first four. Let’s walk through them:

Religion is the relationship between Man and G-d. Morality is the relationship between Man and Man. Judaism is both...
a) Believe in G-d

Kind of funny how we are to believe in G-d because G-d says to, huh? For this reason, some medieval Jewish scholars don’t count this as the First Commandment. To them, belief in G-d is Commandment Zero that surrounds and penetrates Torah. Maimonides, however, understands it as instructive of how to understand G-d—to have faith in Him, to grasp that He is One.

b) Don’t worship idols or entities outside of G-d; don’t create, bow to, or worship an image or statue of any physical representation of G-d

The follow-up to Number One, this Commandment rules out any the designation of any force, entity or concept, physical, emotional or spiritual, as G-d. Only G-d Himself.

c) Don’t take G-d’s name in vain

Practically speaking, this is a law of respecting G-d and His name, prohibiting the use of G-d's name in the making of false, frivolous, trivial, ridiculous, or impossible oaths: swearing that camels can fly, that a sidewalk is made of gold, that a slaughtered animal will die, or that you will violate a particular Mitzvah. One of the ways in which we honor G-d is in how we choose to use His name. Also, simply speaking, the titles used to refer to G-d in prayer, commonly known as “names of G-d,” may not be uttered just anywhere—only in prayer or when making a blessing. The concept of G-d’s names is just as there are bad words, there are good words. You can only use good words in a non-trivial and holy context, because they represent the highest things.


d) Observe Shabbat

The week is physical, material, hectic and tumultuous; Shabbat clears a space in time in which one can nurture the spiritual side within.


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Posted by: Anonymous, Billingham, England on Mar 15, 2005

Enjoyed going on your website. Found out a lot of interesting facts for my son's school project. Brilliant. Thank you.

10 commandments.

Posted by: Anonymous, Robinson, IL, USA on Mar 31, 2005

Just found your site so very interesting. thank you for the great insite to understanding the Word.

Thank you for being there. At age 62 I am searching for "home".

Posted by: Peter O'Connor, Cape Neddick, ME on Nov 17, 2005

Thank you. This resource is great. I am in search of understanding the Jewish faith. I know nothing other than from lifes lessons. I'm having a problem accepting the dogma that I must accept Jesus. I don't. I do not believe that THE savior has come to earth.

RELATED CATEGORIES

Torah » 10 Commandments
Holidays » Shavuot » 10 Commandments

Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Shabbat
(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
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.
Maimonides
Moses son of Maimon, born in Spain in 1135, died in Egypt in 1204. Noted philosopher and authority on Jewish law. Also was an accomplished physician and was the personal doctor for members of the Egyptian royalty. Interred in Tiberius, Israel.
G-d
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.