Yitro – Shishi

The Ten Commandments (The Book, Not the Movie)

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

G-d’s Presence manifested on the mountain’s peak, so Moshe climbed up to meet it. G-d told Moshe to go warn the people not to approach – not even the priests, who would normally be expected to interact with the Divine. To disobey would lead to widespread destruction!

Moshe replied that it wasn’t a problem, since G-d had already had him set a perimeter around the mountain. G-d told Moshe to go deliver the message anyway. He could bring Aharon with him, but everyone else had to maintain a respectable distance. So Moshe did as he was told.

And then it was “show time.”

G-d spoke the first two commandments directly to the people, after which He spoke through Moshe. The “Ten Commandments” given at this time are:

1. To recognize that there’s a G-d; He is the One Who brought the Jews out of Egyptian slavery.

2. Not to insult G-d with idols. We have an exclusive relationship with Him and He takes it pretty seriously!

3. Not to take G-d’s Name in vain. This is unacceptable!

4. To remember Shabbos (the Sabbath) and sanctify it. Saturday is Shabbos and no one in the household may perform constructive acts of labor on that day in commemoration of G-d’s “rest” after creating the universe.

5. To honor our parents. This can be a hard one and fulfilling it promises a person rich spiritual rewards.

6. Not to murder.

7. Not to commit adultery.

8. Not to steal, specifically not to kidnap.

9. Not to testify falsely against another.

10. Not to lust after that which belongs to another. (Really, just be satisfied with what G-d has given you and you won’t get into trouble!)

One question: who are the “priests” referred to in verses 19:22 and 24? After all, Aharon and his sons had not yet been appointed kohanim (priests)! Rashi cites the Talmud in Zevachim 115b that before the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was built, the service was conducted by the first born sons – refer back to our synopsis of parshas Bo – Shevii.

Download Audio File