Aseret HaDibrot

June 19, 2006

English: Ten Commandments, or Ten Utterances; The following were the Ten Commandments, or Ten Utterances of G-d to the Jewish People at Mt. Sinai, which form the moral underpinning of human civilization.

1. “Anochi HaShem Elokecha…” – “I am the L-rd your G-d, etc.” – To have faith in G-d’s existence, His concern for the world, His intervention at will in the affairs of the world, and His infinite might.

2. “Lo Yiheheh Lecha …” – “You shall not recognize the gods of others in My presence, etc.” – the prohibition against idolatry. One of the three Cardinal Sins, for which one must give up one’s life rather than violate it.

3. “Lo Tisa …” – You shall not take the Name of the L-rd your G-d in vain, etc.” – Do not disgrace Hashem’s Name by using it for no valid purpose.

4. Version A: “Zachor et Yom HaShabbat L’Kadesho …” – “Remember the Day of Shabbat to Keep it Holy, etc. – Sanctify the Day of Shabbat by treating it as a Day of Delight, and by the recitation of Kiddush, etc. (Shemot 20:8-11)
Version B: “Shamor et Yom HaShabbat L’Kadesho…” – “Protect the Day of Shabbat to Keep it Holy, etc” – Observe the Day of Shabbat as a Day of Rest by refraining from “Melacha,” creative, purposeful interaction with nature, etc. (Devarim 5:12-15)

5. “Kabed et avicha v’et imecha…” – “Honor your Father and your Mother…” – Revering and honoring one’s parents is considered a basic commandment in Judaism from the perspective that there are three partners involved in the creation of a human being: one’s parents and G-d Himself. That is why this Commandment is included with the first five, which are considered basically between Man and his Creator.

6. “Lo Tirtzach” – “You shall not Murder” – Since the human being is created in the “image of G-d,” the level of seriousness of violation of this commandment should not be minimized. Certain taking of life is sanctioned by the Torah, as is the case in the “arba mitot bet din,” the four forms of capital punishment, which are at least theoretically part of the legal code of the Torah; or the taking of life involved in a “milchemet mitzvah,” “an obligatory war.” However, outside of the limited exceptions, the diminution of the “Tzelem Elokim,” the “image of G-d” in the world is one of the three Cardinal crimes, for which one must give up his or her life, rather than violate.

7. “Lo Tinaf” – “You shall not commit adultery” – Strictly speaking, this prohibition involves cohabiting with a married woman; this is another of the Three Cardinal Sins, regarding which one must forfeit his life rather than violating.

8. “Lo Tignov” – Literally, this means “You shall not steal;” however, this Commandment has been interpreted to refer to only one kind of theft; namely, to someone who kidnaps a person, forces him or her to work for him, and then sells him or her into slavery. This, like the previous prohibitions mentioned in the verse, murder and adultery, is a Capital Crime; that is, punishable by the death-penalty. “Garden-variety” stealing is prohibited by the Torah in Vayikra 19:11, where it says “You shall not steal, you shall not deny falsely, and you should not lie one to another.”

9. “Lo Taaneh ve’reacha ed shaker” – “Do not give false testimony against your neighbor.” Giving testimony is a very serious matter in Judaism; one then has the power with words to directly affect someone else’s life.

10. “Lo Tachmod beit reiecha,…” – “You shall not covet your fellow’s house. You shall not covet your fellow’s wife, his manservant, his maidservant, his ox, his donkey, nor anything that belongs to your fellow.” This is an area where the Torah legislates regarding a person’s inner thoughts and feelings. Only a Divine Lawgiver could possibly legislate in this way, for He knows our innermost thoughts and feelings. The meaning of the prohibition is that a person should regard another’s possessions as totally beyond his possibility of acquisition.