GOOD MORNING! GOOD MORNING! People often tell me, "Rabbi, I just observe the Ten Commandments and not all 613." The usual problem is that if asked, they are hard-pressed to name them ... and it is hard to observe a commandment if you don't know what it is. So, as a public service, I am including the list.
Q & A: WHAT ARE THE TEN COMMANDMENTS AND WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT?
Other religions began with an individual who claimed to have a message from God and then gathered a following. Judaism began when God gathered the Israelite nation, approximately 3 million people, to the foot of Mount Sinai and proclaimed the Ten Commandments. A permanent bond was forged between the Almighty and the Jewish people.
The Ten Commandments are an introduction to the other commandments as well as categories for the remaining 603 commandments. They form the basis of morality and the main principles necessary for the survival of the Jewish people, both religiously and ethically. Though they are of cardinal importance, all commandments were given by God and are essential to Judaism.
As Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan notes in his monumental Handbook of Jewish Thought (available from your local Jewish book store or by calling toll-free 877-758-3242), the first five commandments deal primarily with foundations of our religion: belief in God, negation of idolatry, respect for God's name, the Sabbath as a commemoration of creation, honoring parents to ensure the survival of tradition; the second five deal with moral necessities: respect for life, chastity and property, pursuit of justice and controlling one's covetous desires.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
- I am the Lord, your God, Who has taken you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery.
- Do not have any other gods before me. Do not represent (such gods) by any carved statue or picture of anything in the heaven above, on the earth below, or in the water below the land. Do not bow down to (such gods) or worship them. I am the Lord your God --a God who demands exclusive worship. Where my enemies are concerned, I keep in mind the sin of the fathers for (their) descendants, to the third and forth (generation). But for those who love Me and keep My commandments, I show love for thousands (of generations).
- Do not take the Name of the Lord, your God, in vain. God will not allow the one who takes His name in vain to go unpunished.
- Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shall you work and accomplish all your tasks; but the seventh day is Sabbath to the Lord, your God; do not do anything that constitutes work -- you, your son, your daughter, your slave, your maidservant, your animal, and your convert within your gates -- for in six days the Lord made heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and sanctified it.
- Honor your father and your mother. You will then live long on the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
- Do not commit murder.
- Do not commit adultery.
- Do not steal.
- Do not testify as a false witness against your neighbor.
- You shall not covet your neighbor's house. Do not covet your neighbor's wife, his slave, his maid, his ox, his donkey, or anything else that is your neighbor's.
Portion of the Week
This is the Torah portion containing the giving of the Ten Commandments. Did you know that there are differences in the Ten Commandments as stated here (Exodus 20:1 -14) and related later in Deuteronomy 5:6 - 18? (Suggestion: have your children find the differences as a game at the Shabbat table during dinner).
Moses' father-in-law, Jethro (Yitro or Yisro in the Hebrew) joins the Jewish people in the desert, advises Moses on the best way to serve and judge the people -- by appointing a hierarchy of intermediaries -- and then returns home to Midian. The Ten Commandments are given, the first two were heard directly from God by every Jew and then the people begged Moses to be their intermediary for the remaining eight because the experience was too intense.
The portion concludes with the Almighty telling Moses to instruct the Jewish people not to make any images of God. They were then commanded to make an earthen altar; and eventually to make a stone altar, but without the use of a sword or metal tool.
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states, "You shall not covet..." (Exodus 20:14). What does it mean not to covet?
Coveting means that one desires something that belongs to someone else and pressures him/her to give or sell it. It makes no difference whether he applies the pressure himself or asks his friends to do so for him. Moreover, the very desiring of someone else's possession is a violation of a different prohibition: "You shall not desire the house of your fellow man, nor his ox and his donkey, nor anything which belongs to your fellow man" (Deuteronomy 5:18).
Rambam, Moshe Maimonides, teaches that desire leads to coveting (pressuring someone to sell) and coveting leads to stealing. For if a person strongly wants someone's possession and is unable to acquire it through payment, he may eventually steal it, and if the owner tries to protect his possession from being stolen, the coveter is apt to kill him, as was the case with King Achav who desired a field that belonged to Navos.
How can we overcome our desires? We should train ourselves to be satisfied with what God has given us and realize that what He has given to someone else is his/hers and specifically that object is off limits for us.
CANDLE LIGHTING - February 16:
Guatemala 5:49 Hong Kong 5:58 Honolulu 6:12
J'Burg 6:32 London 4:58 Los Angeles 5:20
Melbourne 8:04 Miami 5:57 Moscow 5:17
New York 5:14 Singapore 7:03
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
they are the Ten Commandments,
not the Ten Suggestions!
Dedicated by...With Special Thanks to
for dedicating this edition