A Rule of Ten

Question

Hi Rabbi, what is so special about the Ten Commandments (not the movie!)? Thanks.

3 months

Answers

  1. Actually, they are not so special, at least not as special as many people think. They are not any holier or important than any other mitzvah in the Torah.

    However, these were the “ten statements” spoken by God to the entire Jewish People at Mount Sinai. In this capacity, explains Rabbi S. R. Hirsch, they serve as a type of preparation for receiving all future Divine legislation. The verses in the Book of Exodus chapter 20 teach that the experience at Sinai led the Jewish nation to absolutely trust that the entire Torah that Moses would eventually teach them was directly from God.

    Rabbi Hirsch adds that examination of the order of the “Ten Commandments” shows that all aspects of individual, family, and communal life require a proper combination of how we relate to other people as well as how we relate to God. The first commandments are between man and God, while the latter ones are between man and man. But all of these statements are meant to be integrally combined in living a Jewish life according to the Torah.

    Relating to God with one’s heart as stated in the first commandments of “I am the Lord your God” and “You will have no other gods” must be joined by proper speech “Do not bear false witness”, work-ethics “Remember the Shabbat”, family interactions “Honor your parents” and moral behavior in society such as “Don’t murder” and “Don’t steal”. Rabbi Hirsch points out that the final statement, “Don’t covet” teaches that even if we try to do correct things and try to refrain from wrong, our efforts will ultimately be futile if we do not internalize the reason we are making these efforts. A stable life and a stable world of ethical Monotheism can be achieved by following the foundations and tenets taught in these “Ten Commandments”.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team