web analytics
August 2, 2015 / 17 Av, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

The Hidden Side Of The Ten Commandments


On Shavuot we celebrate God giving us the Torah, represented by the Ten Commandments. We will explore them here through a broad lens, showing how they apply to our daily lives. We will focus on the First Commandment, the foundation, and the seven commandments phrased in the negative, which tell us what not to do, discussing both sides: the negative (avoiding what God hates) and the hidden side, the positive (doing what He loves).

For a discussion on the Fourth and Fifth Commandments – keeping Shabbat and honoring our parents – which are already phrased in the positive, please see my blog, yaakovweiland.blogspot.com.

The Ten Commandments start off utilizing this pattern of polar opposites. The First Commandment, “I am the Lord your God “(Exodus 20:2) is the positive formulation and the converse of the Second Commandment, prohibiting idol worship.

In the First Commandment, God introduces Himself in order to have a relationship with us. Developing the relationship includes getting to know Him (Torah study), talking and listening to Him (prayer and observances), and helping His children (acts of kindness).

In excess, material goals and desires become modern day idols, compromising our relationship with God. Ask yourself, “Am I headed toward a closer relationship with God, or farther away? Which aspect of my connection with Him will I strengthen?”

The Talmud (Sotah 4b) teaches that arrogance is a form of idol worship – worshipping our egos. To counter this, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov (Likkutei Maharan 10:5) advises drawing close to tzaddikim. Ask yourself, “Do I have a rabbi to whom I defer, listening to his instruction and reproof? If not, who are some possibilities, and how can I build a relationship with them?”

The Third Commandment: Prohibition of vain oaths with God’s name. This also includes any form of desecrating His name (chillul Hashem). The converse is sanctifying His name (kiddush Hashem). Ask yourself, “What can I do or refrain from doing to bring more esteem to my people and my God?”

The Sixth Commandment: Prohibition of murder. The Sages say that embarrassing a person is a form of murder. When we apologize after causing emotional pain, we invigorate a person, giving back the life we took. The converse of this commandment is to give life, and teach our children – especially by example – to care about God and His Torah.

In addition, did you ever notice that after giving someone a sincere compliment or encouragement, that person stands a little taller? You have just infused someone with life. Ask yourself, “Whom can I apologize to, or whom can I compliment? How can I be a better role model to my children?”

The Seventh Commandment: Prohibition of adultery. This also includes other forbidden relations. God calls us a holy nation (Exodus 19:6) and we maintain our purity by avoiding forbidden behavior and thoughts. By sanctifying the most intimate act – through the laws of family purity – we bring holiness to our very core. Ask yourself, “What can I do or refrain from doing, to bring more holiness to all areas of my life?”

The Eighth Commandment: Prohibition of stealing. Theft includes taking or damaging what is not ours, borrowing without permission, being late in agreed upon payments or holding on to something that does not belong to us. The converse is to be charitable and generous; not being petty and insisting on getting everything we might be entitled to.

There is tremendous satisfaction in being impeccably honest and knowing our integrity is not sullied by ill-gotten gains. When we do the right thing, as defined by Jewish law, regardless of whether anyone compels us to do so, we show God that His will is our primary focus. Ask yourself, “Did I acquire any of my possessions or financial gains through questionable means? Do I have anything I need to return, or payments to make, to restore my integrity?”

The Ninth Commandment: Prohibition of testifying falsely against each other. This also includes other forms of hurtful talk. The converse of this commandment is to be truthful and keep our word. The opposite of being against each other, is to avoid conflicts, when possible, by humbling ourselves; making the first gesture and giving in a little for the sake of peace.

Many times a neutral third party – a rabbi or a bet din – can resolve even a longstanding dispute. In addition, look out for the interests of others and ask yourself, “Whom can I help this week?” Some examples: giving emotional, financial or physical support; offering advice; helping someone find a job, a spouse or a needed resource.

The Tenth Commandment: Prohibition of coveting. This includes pressuring a person to sell something or give a gift or loan. The converse is appreciating what we have and asking ourselves, “What has God already given me that I will thank Him for?”

The Ten Commandments are broad categories of the entire Torah. Many of us struggle with at least one category. Perhaps the opportunity to strengthen and repair that area is a core reason God sent our souls from Heaven into this world; it is our moment of truth. Ask yourself, “Which commandment and its subcategories will I focus on being better in?”

Imagine a society where everyone observed the Ten Commandments (with gentiles observing those that apply to them). We long for such a peaceful and spiritual world. This and more will happen when the Messiah comes. By becoming living examples of the Ten Commandments, we illuminate the world with His glory, ushering in a time when, ” the earth will be full of the knowledge of God, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).

Yaakov Weiland has an MSW from Fordham School of Social Service and lives in New York City. Visit his blog at yaakovweiland.blogspot.com.

About the Author: Yaakov Weiland has an MSW from Fordham School of Social Service and lives in New York City. Visit his blog at yaakovweiland.blogspot.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Hidden Side Of The Ten Commandments”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Jonathan Pollard.
Dear Jonathan: A Letter of Concern
Latest Indepth Stories
Jonathan Pollard.

Jonathan remember, as long as you’re denied your right to come home to Israel you’re still in prison

Inside of the home burned in the Prce Tag attack in the village of Duma.

Reports of a dead baby, a devastated family, and indications of a gloating attacker.

Silhouette of "hilltop settler."

“Yesha” and Binyamin Regional Council leaders said the attack “is not the path of Jews in Judea and Samaria.”

Schwartz-073115

The occasion? The rarely performed mitzvah of pidyon peter chamor: Redemption of a firstborn donkey.

American leftists have a pathological self-inflicted blindness to the dangers of political Islam

Hillary should THANK Trump; By dominating the news he’s overshadowed the implosion of her campaign

Hard to remember when Jewish youth were so hostile to their heritage as they are on campuses today.

Names of the enablers of Iran’s Nuclear weapons will be added next to Hitler’s on the list of infamy

By most accounts, the one person with the political muscle to swing enough Democratic votes to override a veto is Sen. Schumer.

The next day, in a speech in New York to the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Kerry substantially upped the ante.

In Israel, the judiciary has established itself as superior to ALL other branches of the government.

The Fifteenth Day of the month of Av became a day of national rejoicing. The moment that had seemed hopeless became the moment of Redemption.

I think the melodies in our religious services have a haunting sound to them that just permeates your guts and gets into your soul. If you have any musical inclination, I think they inspire you to compose.

Cavalier analogies to the Holocaust are unacceptable, but Huckabee’s analogy was very appropriate.

More Articles from Yaakov Weiland
Your Sin

Can you recall any time you hurt someone, perhaps a friend, neighbor, family member, fellow congregant or business associate?

During the High Holidays we increase the number of our prayers. We acknowledge God’s kingship, beseech Him to forgive us and ask Him to grant us a new year filled with blessings. How do we make these prayers sincere and effective?

We are now in the Three Weeks, a time of national mourning for the Jewish people. Of the numerous tragedies that occurred throughout history during this period, the central one we grieve is the destruction of both Temples; they were destroyed on Tisha B’Av, the culmination of the Three Weeks.

On Shavuot we celebrate God giving us the Torah, represented by the Ten Commandments. We will explore them here through a broad lens, showing how they apply to our daily lives. We will focus on the First Commandment, the foundation, and the seven commandments phrased in the negative, which tell us what not to do, discussing both sides: the negative (avoiding what God hates) and the hidden side, the positive (doing what He loves).

In my Nov. 26 op-ed article, “The Clarifying Truths of Chanukah,” I explored how clarity, purity and joy bring us close to God and to living a meaningful life. If they are so essential, their potential must exist within our spiritual DNA. I suggest it does; we inherited that potential from our forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Ever wonder why the Jewish New Year begins with three back-to-back-to back holidays and then no biblical holidays for another six months?

The ongoing crisis in the Gulf of Mexico has been declared the worst oil spill in American history. It occurred when an offshore drilling rig exploded on April 20, killing eleven crew members and causing an oil pipe, 5,000 feet below the ocean’s surface, to rupture. BP, the oil company responsible for the spill, is the fourth largest company, of any type, in the world. Shockingly, BP’s efforts, backed by America, have not stopped the flow.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-hidden-side-of-the-ten-commandments/2011/06/01/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: