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The Ten Commandments: The Inside Story

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The Ten Commandments were engraved on two tablets. The five commandments etched on the first tablet deal with man’s relationship with G‑d; the second tablet contains five commandments that concern man’s relationship with his fellow man.

Of the 613 biblical commandments, G‑d selected these ten for special attention. He directly communicated them to Bnei Yisrael without using Moshe as an intermediary, and inscribed them on the tablets that were placed in the Holy Ark within the Kodesh Kedoshim. It is evident that although all the mitzvotare vital, the five carved into the first tablet were chosen because they form the basis of our relationship with the Creator, while the latter five serve as the foundation of our relationship with fellow people. The following is an attempt to delve briefly into the deeper meaning of the Ten Commandments.

First Tablet:

I am the L‑rd your G‑d, who took you out of the land of Egypt: It isn’t beneath G‑d – the almighty omnipotent G‑d, before whom “all is considered like naught” – to personally interfere in the workings of this world, to liberate a persecuted nation from the hand of their oppressors. We can always trust that He is watching over us attentively and controlling all the events which affect our lives.

It isn’t beneath G‑d to personally interfere in the workings of this world, to liberate a persecuted nation from the hand of their oppressors.

2. You shall not have other gods in My presence: G‑d is the only one who controls all events and occurrences. No other entity – not your government, not your boss, not your spouse – can benefit or harm you, unless G‑d has so decreed. Every one of us shares a special relationship with G‑d, and no power can interfere with or disturb this relationship.

3. You shall not take the name of the L‑rd, your G‑d, in vain: The above-described relationship may indeed be intimate and personal, but you must never lose perspective – He’s your Creator, not your buddy.

4. Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it: Maintaining this relationship with G‑d requires effort on our part. All too often, we are so immersed in our daily routine that we forget that in actuality it is our connection with G‑d which matters most. Therefore, G‑d commanded us to allocate one day every week for “relationship maintenance.” This is Shabbat, a day to focus on the real priorities in life, and to draw inspiration for the following week.

5. Honor your father and your mother: Why is this commandment included in the “between man and Creator” tablet? Doesn’t this command belong on the second tablet? Perhaps the lesson is that although we owe everything to G‑d, we must not forget to express gratitude to those people whom G‑d has empowered to help us in our journey through life. As the Talmud says: “The wine belongs to the host, but thanks is [also] said to the waiter.”

Second Tablet:

Although most of the following prohibitions are admonitions against egregious sins which most of us wouldn’t even consider committing, these prohibitions have subtle undertones which are applicable to every person.

1. Do not murder: Murder is a result of one person deeming another person totally insignificant. In truth, every human was created by G‑d in His holy image, and therefore has an innate right to exist. The first message we must internalize is the importance of respecting every individual. G‑d thinks this person is important; so should you.

G‑d thinks this person is important – so should you.

About the Author: Rabbi Naftali Silberberg is a writer, editor, and director of the curriculum department at the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute. Rabbi Silberberg resides in Brooklyn, NY, with his wife Chaya Mushka and their three children.


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21 Responses to “The Ten Commandments: The Inside Story”

  1. Omar A. Omar says:

    USA and UK are responsible and must pay for their mistake, they inserted an illegal state in the ME which is Israel making the ME unstable and full of terror and violence and it will keep so as long as ISRAEL exist, Palestine must be freed and occupation ended as a first step to create peace environment in the ME . USA and UK are responsible for all Israeli crimes as much as Israel is since they always support Israeli Aggressions.

  2. If god doesnt interfere in the workings of this world, why should adore him?

  3. and we must help bring MOSHIACH

  4. Paul Miranda says:

    The book of Daniel the prophet shows this to be true: that it is NOT beneath G-d (i.e., it is not beyond His power, authority, reach, control, or rule) to personally interfere in the workings of this world, to liberate a persecuted nation from the hand of their oppressors. He has and does personally interfere in the workings of this world from time to time.

  5. Paul Miranda says:

    Isaac is like Israel.

    Ishmael is like Palestine.

    The two cannot co-exist in the same tent.

    Ishmael must go.

    Israel must stay.

  6. G-d is great and deserves to be worshipped and obeyed.

  7. G-d is great and deserves to be worshipped and obeyed.

  8. Brian Knight says:

    That’s great to know, maybe G-d will intervene on behalf of oppressed impoverished Americans now.

  9. He does not interfere!! just leave us to perfomance well or bad,its up to us!

  10. God will not only intervene in the working of this world but he will personally intervene in your personal life. Like a father with his child he wants to love us all.

  11. God reestablisht Israel, the US and UK had nothing to do with it.

  12. God reestablisht Israel, the US and UK had nothing to do with it.

  13. If they keep His commandments G-d will intervene. If not they’re on their own.

  14. Gee…I wish He’d do something about Obama and Co.

  15. God has his own WILL that differs that of man’s WILL.

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It isn’t beneath G-d to personally interfere in the workings of this world, to liberate a persecuted nation from the hand of their oppressors.

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