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January 31, 2013 / conservadox

Dvar Torah- Yitro

This week’s Torah portion, of course, features the Ten Commandments.  Sarna notes that according to Jewish tradition, these are often called the Aseret Hadibrot, or the Ten Statements.  Why?  Because these statements are just categories of mitzvot, which sometimes include more than one mitzvah.

More interesting is how he sees the Ten Commandments’ relationship to other religions. Some ill-informed people think that these rules are just common sense, universal values that should be appealing to all civilized people; this view underlies the urge to place the Ten Commandments in school buildings, etc.

But Sarna notes that the first few of the Ten Commandments are specific to Judaism, or at least were before the formation of Christianity and Islam:  not just the requirement to believe in God (which is one of the Ten Commandments according to Jewish tradition) but also prohibition of idolatry and of worshipping God through graven images, prohibitions of “taking the name of God in vain” (whatever that means) and Sabbath observance.   Christianity hasn’t rejected the Ten Commandments, but has certainly interpreted them very differently from Judaism.  Islam, as I understand it, is even more concerned about Judaism than graven images, but has watered down the Sabbath concept even more than Christianity.

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