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Can I be a good Jew by just keeping the Ten Commandments, without believing in the Torah?

by Rabbi Baruch Emanuel Erdstein

  

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Even from a cursory reading of the Torah, it is clear that for someone to claim that they can keep the Ten Commandments without believing in the rest of the Torah (including the Oral Law), they will have to create a new religion (not advised!).

We learn about the Ten Commandments via the Torah; they are not two independent traditions. The same Torah which teaches us about our national origins (i.e. Abraham and Sarah, Egyptian servitude, the Exodus, etc.) and commandments such as those of social justice and dietary laws -- is the same source from which we learn about the Ten Commandments.

And just exactly how does a person plan to "Keep the Shabbat," Commandment #4, or "Honor your father and mother," Commandment #5? These are not just general ideas. There are many particulars to these commandments, all detailed in the rest of the Torah received on Mount Sinai. To deny the entirety of Torah is like saying that one is only interested in watching the pitcher in a baseball game -- the rest doesn't interest him; the pitcher is vital, perhaps even central, to the game, but his relevance and importance can only be understood and fully appreciated in the context of the entire playing field, complete with its laws and strategies.


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RELATED CATEGORIES

Torah » 10 Commandments
Holidays » Shavuot » 10 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.
Oral Law
G–d orally explained all the 613 Commandments to Moses. These explanations constitute the Oral Law.
Abraham
First Jew, and first of our three Patriarchs. Born into a pagan society in Mesepotamia in 1812 BCE, he discovered monethieism on his own. He was told by G-d to journey to the Land of Canaan where he and his wife Sarah would give birth to the Jewish People.
Sarah
First Jewess, first of the four Jewish Matriarchs, wife of Abraham--the first Jew. Lived in Mesopotamia, and then Canaan, in the 19th century BCE.
Exodus
1. The miraculous departure of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage in 1312 BCE. 2. The second of the Five Books of Moses. This book describes the aforementioned Exodus, the giving of the Torah, and the erection of the Tabernacle.