Sunday, May 27, 2007

Popular Misconception: "Ten Commandments"

Someone recently joked that in today's day and age of moral relativism, the name ought to be changed to "the Ten Suggestions."

Obviously, we'd laugh at such a suggestion. Take 'em or leave 'em, but for crying out loud, don't rename them! Everyone knows that there are Ten Commandments, right?


For the sake of accuracy, let's debunk this myth once and for all.
There's no such thing as the "Ten Commandments."

Here's why:

1) There are 613 Commandments given at Sinai, not just ten.

2) The "Ten Commandments" is a poor translation of "Aseret Hadibrot." This term should properly be translated as the "Ten Statements." (Otherwise, it would have been called "Aseret Hamitzvot")

3) If you read the so-called "Ten Commandments," you will actually find 14 or 15 commandments mentioned therein.

A much better name for these famous ten statements is the Decalogue.

So what's all the hype about the Decalogue? Simple. These were the only part of the Torah that ALL the Jewish people heard at once and directly from G-d. (The rest was transmitted to us via Moses over the period of forty years).

That's why they're called the Ten Statements or Sayings ("Dibrot" comes from "Dibbur," speech), indicating that we heard them as they were verbalized by G-d.

Our Sages taught that by articulating these statements, the Almighty was in fact giving us the entire Torah, since the Dibrot are all-embracing and incorporate all 613 commandments in a general way.
Indeed, the Decalogue contains exactly 620 letters, corresponding to all 613 mitzvot and seven Rabbinical ordinances, or conversely the seven Noahidic mitzvot for all mankind.

Stay tuned for further misconceptions...

1 comment:

Duni said...

Yasher koach rabbi green on you amazing blog and website!