The Ten Commandments Every Day?

The Shulchan Arukh is a book of codes that give instructions on how to live daily life as a Jew. In this section, the S.A. is giving instructions on which biblical passages should be recited before starting the daily shacharit service. In it, the S.A. specifies that it is good to recite each of these passages, but they should not be recited publicly or as part of a crowd - only in individual, quiet prayers.

טוב לומר פ' העקדה ופ' המן ועשרת הדברות ופרשת עולה ומנחה ושלמים וחטאת ואשם: הגה ודוקא ביחיד מותר לומר י' הדברות בכל יום אבל אסור לאומרם בצבור (תשו' הרשב"א סימן קפ"ד):

It is good to recite the passage of the Binding (Genesis 22:1-19), the passage of the Manna (Exodus 16:4-36), the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-13), and the passages of the burnt-offering (Leviticus 1:1-17), tribute-offering (Leviticus 2:1-13), peace-offering (Leviticus 3:1-17), sin-offering (Vayikra 4:27-35), and guilt-offering. Rem"a: But only in private is it permissible to recite the Ten Commandments each day: it is forbidden to recite them in congregation (Rashb"a Responsum 144).

1. What do each of the passages above entail? Are there any common links between them? Look at the verses directly and try and draw a connection between them all.

2. Without reading ahead, why do you think we are prohibited from reciting the Ten Commandments in our daily prayers?

3. Do you think the Ten Commandments should be part of our daily tefillot? Why or why not?


This section from the Babylonian Talmud discusses the reasoning as to why we no longer say the Ten Commandments in our daily prayers. In the past, they used to be included in daily prayers along with the Shema, its sections, and its brachot before and after. It was taken out of the daily liturgy in response to the actions of "heretics," who were most likely other sects of Judaism and the early Christians, who were, at the time, separating themselves from mainstream Judaism by pointing out what they thought were Judaism's flaws.

וְקוֹרִין עֲשֶׂרֶת הַדִּבְּרוֹת ״שְׁמַע״, ״וְהָיָה אִם שָׁמוֹעַ״, ״וַיֹּאמֶר״, ״אֱמֶת וְיַצִּיב״, וַעֲבוֹדָה, וּבִרְכַּת כֹּהֲנִים. אָמַר רַב יְהוּדָה אָמַר שְׁמוּאֵל: אַף בִּגְבוּלִין בִּקְּשׁוּ לִקְרוֹת כֵּן, אֶלָּא שֶׁכְּבָר בִּטְּלוּם מִפְּנֵי תַּרְעוֹמֶת הַמִּינִין. תַּנְיָא נָמֵי הָכִי, רַבִּי נָתָן אוֹמֵר: בִּגְבוּלִין בִּקְּשׁוּ לִקְרוֹת כֵּן, אֶלָּא שֶׁכְּבָר בִּטְּלוּם מִפְּנֵי תַּרְעוֹמֶת הַמִּינִין. רַבָּה בַּר בַּר חַנָּה סְבַר לְמִקְבְּעִינְהוּ בְּסוּרָא, אֲמַר לֵיהּ רַב חִסְדָּא: כְּבָר בִּטְּלוּם מִפְּנֵי תַּרְעוֹמֶת הַמִּינִין.

The Gemara related above that the priests in the Temple read the Ten Commandments, along with the sections of Shema, VeHaya im Shamoa, VaYomer, True and Firm, Avoda, and the priestly benediction.

Rav Yehuda said that Shmuel said: Even in the outlying areas, outside the Temple, they sought to recite the Ten Commandments in this manner every day, as they are the basis of the Torah (Rambam), but they had already abolished recitation of the Ten Commandments due to the grievance of the heretics, who argued that the entire Torah, with the exception of the Ten Commandments, did not emanate from God (Jerusalem Talmud). If the Ten Commandments were recited daily, that would lend credence to their claim, so their recitation was expunged from the daily prayers.

That was also taught in a baraita that Rabbi Natan says: In the outlying areas, they sought to recite the Ten Commandments in this manner, but they had already abolished their recitation due to the grievance of the heretics.

The Gemara relates that several Sages sought to reinstitute recitation of the Ten Commandments, as Rabba bar bar Ḥana thought to institute this in the city of Sura, but Rav Ḥisda said to him: They already abolished them due to the grievance of the heretics.

4. Why would the heretics argue that the existence of the Ten Commandments means that none of the rest of the Torah came directly from God?

5. How would you argue against the heretics? What "evidence" or supporting arguments would you use? Write a 3-5 sentence response to the heretics' claim that the presence of the Ten Commandments proves that the Torah did not come from God.