Parasha Inspiration – Yitro

וַיְדַבֵּ֣ר אֱלֹהִ֔ים אֵ֛ת כָּל־הַדְּבָרִ֥ים הָאֵ֖לֶּה לֵאמֹֽר: אָֽנֹכִ֨י יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ אֲשֶׁ֣ר הֽוֹצֵאתִ֩יךָ֩ מֵאֶ֨רֶץ מִצְרַ֜יִם מִבֵּ֣ית עֲבָדִ֗ים:

God spoke all these words, to respond: “I am the Lord, your God, Who took you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

Exodus 20:1-2

This week’s Torah portion contains the 10 Commandments. They are commonly known as the 10 Commandments in English. In Hebrew, there are not called the 10 commandments at all, they are called the Dibraya, the Word of God.

Because these particular commandments are known as “the 10 commandments” in English, it has led to a widespread teaching within Christianity that there are only 10 commandments. The Torah contains 613 commandments, not 10. For this reason alone, it is important to refer to these commandments as the Dibraya, rather than “the 10 commandments.”

Since there are 603 other commandments, why are these 10 singled out to be carved on the Sapphire tablets? The reason is because these 10 are not only commandments in and of themselves, but, they are also categories of commandments. In fact, each of the 613 commandments fit into a category of each of the 10. For example, commandments, for each of the festivals fall under the commandment, “remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.”

If we look at how the Dibraya is divided on the tablets, (the normal Christian division varies from what was actually written on the tablets) the first of these commandments is “I am the Lord your God.” The 6th commandment, which tops the second column, is “you shall not murder.” Consequently, the first column deals with all of the commandments answering the question, how to I love God? The second column deals with all of the commandments answering the question, how do I love my neighbor?

When Yeshua is asked what the most important commandments are, it is no accident that he responds, “love God, and almost as important, love your neighbor as yourself.” These 2 commandments had the column of the 10 commandments which contain all of the 613 commandments of Torah. Yeshua did not say that only two commandments are important, he was saying that all of the commandments are important because they all fall into the columns of categories of love God and love your neighbor. Shabbat shalom.


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Rabbi Steven Bernstein

Steve was born on Lag B’Omer in Ann Arbor, MI but was raised in Gainesville, FL. The son of two University of Florida professors, he excelled in the sciences in school. In addition to his normal academic studies, he pursued his Jewish education studying with many Rabbis and professors of Judaic Studies from the University including visiting Rabbis such as Abraham Joshua Heschel and Shlomo Carlebach.