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The Ten "Commandments"

Source Sheet by Rabbi Andrew Pepperstone
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Created February 2, 2015 · 5524 Views · נוצר 2 February, 2015 · 5524 צפיות ·

  1. This line of questions comes from The Tanach Study Center (www.tanach.org) by Menachem Leibtag.

     

    For some reason, what we call in Hebrew "Asert Ha-Dibrot", we refer to in English as "The Ten Commandments." Is this translation correct? Why or why not?

     

    One question that some as is: How many "dibrot" are there in the "Ten Commandments"?

     

    How would you translate "dibrot"?

    • As statements?
    • As commandments?
    • As literary units (called in Hebrew 'parshiyot'; sg. parshia)?

    Explain each possibility.

     

    What is the difference between "mitzvot" and "dibrot"?

     

    Let's take a look at the "Ten Commandments."

  2. (א) וַיְדַבֵּ֣ר אֱלֹהִ֔ים אֵ֛ת כָּל־הַדְּבָרִ֥ים הָאֵ֖לֶּה לֵאמֹֽר׃ (ס)

     

    (ב) אָֽנֹכִ֖י֙ ה' אֱלֹהֶ֑֔יךָ אֲשֶׁ֧ר הוֹצֵאתִ֛יךָ מֵאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרַ֖יִם מִבֵּ֣֥ית עֲבָדִֽ֑ים׃

    (ג) לֹֽ֣א יִהְיֶֽה־לְךָ֛֩ אֱלֹהִ֥֨ים אֲחֵרִ֖֜ים עַל־פָּנָֽ֗יַ

    (ד) לֹֽ֣א תַֽעֲשֶׂ֨ה־לְךָ֥֣ פֶ֣֙סֶל֙ ׀ וְכָל־תְּמוּנָ֡֔ה אֲשֶׁ֤֣ר בַּשָּׁמַ֣֙יִם֙ ׀ מִמַּ֡֔עַל וַֽאֲשֶׁ֥ר֩ בָּאָ֖֨רֶץ מִתַָּ֑֜חַת וַאֲשֶׁ֥֣ר בַּמַּ֖֣יִם ׀ מִתַּ֥֣חַת לָאָֽ֗רֶץ

    (ה) לֹֽא־תִשְׁתַּחְוֶ֥֣ה לָהֶ֖ם֮ וְלֹ֣א תָעָבְדֵ֑ם֒ כִּ֣י אָֽנֹכִ֞י ה' אֱלֹהֶ֙יךָ֙ אֵ֣ל קַנָּ֔א פֹּ֠קֵד עֲוֺ֨ן אָבֹ֧ת עַל־בָּנִ֛ים עַל־שִׁלֵּשִׁ֥ים וְעַל־רִבֵּעִ֖ים לְשֹׂנְאָֽ֑י׃

    (ו) וְעֹ֥֤שֶׂה חֶ֖֙סֶד֙ לַאֲלָפִ֑֔ים לְאֹהֲבַ֖י וּלְשֹׁמְרֵ֥י מִצְוֺתָֽי׃ (ס)

     

    (ז) לֹ֥א תִשָּׂ֛א אֶת־שֵֽׁם־ה' אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ לַשָּׁ֑וְא כִּ֣י לֹ֤א יְנַקֶּה֙ ה' אֵ֛ת אֲשֶׁר־יִשָּׂ֥א אֶת־שְׁמ֖וֹ לַשָּֽׁוְא׃ (פ)

     

    (ח) זָכ֛וֹר֩ אֶת־י֥֨וֹם הַשַּׁבָּ֖֜ת לְקַדְּשֽׁ֗וֹ

    (ט) שֵׁ֤֣שֶׁת יָמִ֣ים֙ תַּֽעֲבֹ֔ד֮ וְעָשִׂ֖֣יתָ כָּל־מְלַאכְתֶּֽךָ֒

    (י) וְי֙וֹם֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔֜י שַׁבָּ֖֣ת ׀ לַה' אֱלֹהֶ֑֗יךָ לֹֽ֣א־תַעֲשֶׂ֣֨ה כָל־מְלָאכָ֡֜ה אַתָּ֣ה ׀ וּבִנְךָֽ֣־וּ֠בִתֶּ֗ךָ עַבְדְּךָ֤֨ וַאֲמָֽתְךָ֜֙ וּבְהֶמְתֶּ֔֗ךָ וְגֵרְךָ֖֙ אֲשֶׁ֥֣ר בִּשְׁעָרֶֽ֔יךָ (יא) כִּ֣י שֵֽׁשֶׁת־יָמִים֩ עָשָׂ֨ה ה' אֶת־הַשָּׁמַ֣יִם וְאֶת־הָאָ֗רֶץ אֶת־הַיָּם֙ וְאֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁר־בָּ֔ם וַיָּ֖נַח בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֑י עַל־כֵּ֗ן בֵּרַ֧ךְ ה' אֶת־י֥וֹם הַשַּׁבָּ֖ת וַֽיְקַדְּשֵֽׁהוּ׃ (ס)

     

    (יב) כַּבֵּ֥ד אֶת־אָבִ֖יךָ וְאֶת־אִמֶּ֑ךָ לְמַ֙עַן֙ יַאֲרִכ֣וּן יָמֶ֔יךָ עַ֚ל הָאֲדָמָ֔ה אֲשֶׁר־ה' אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ נֹתֵ֥ן לָֽךְ׃ (ס)

     

    (יג) לֹ֥֖א תִּֿרְצָֽ֖ח׃ (ס)

    לֹ֣֖א תִּֿנְאָֽ֑ף׃ (ס)

    לֹ֣֖א תִּֿגְנֹֽ֔ב׃ (ס)

    לֹֽא־תַעֲנֶ֥ה בְרֵעֲךָ֖ עֵ֥ד שָֽׁקֶר׃ (ס)

     

    (יד) לֹ֥א תַחְמֹ֖ד בֵּ֣ית רֵעֶ֑ךָ לֹֽא־תַחְמֹ֞ד אֵ֣שֶׁת רֵעֶ֗ךָ וְעַבְדּ֤וֹ וַאֲמָתוֹ֙ וְשׁוֹר֣וֹ וַחֲמֹר֔וֹ וְכֹ֖ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר לְרֵעֶֽךָ׃ (פ)

    (1) And God spoke all these words, saying: (S)

     

    (2) I am the Eternal your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

    (3) You shall have no other gods before Me.

    (4) You shall not make for you a graven image, nor any manner of likeness, of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;

    (5) you shall not bow down to them, nor serve them; for I the Eternal your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the ancestors upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those that hate Me;

    (6) and showing mercy to the thousandth generation of those that love Me and keep My commandments. (S)

     

    (7) You shall not take the name of the Eternal your God in vain; for the Eternal will not hold them guiltless those that take God's name in vain. (P)

     

    (8) Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

    (9) Six days shall you work, and do all your creative activity;

    (10) but the seventh day is a sabbath for the Eternal your God; on it you shall not do any manner of creative labor, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your man-servant, nor your maid-servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates;

    (11) for in six days the Eternal made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; thus the Eternal blessed the sabbath day, and make it holy. (S)

     

    (12) Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long upon the land which the Eternal your God gives you. (S)

     

    (13) You shall not murder. (S)

    You shall not commit adultery. (S)

    You shall not steal. (S)

    You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. (S)

     

    (14) You shalt not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is your neighbor’s. (P)

    1. What are the first two "dibrot"? In other words, what exactly is the first one and what exactly is the second one?
    2. How does your answer relate to the division of the parshiyot? [These are marked in the Hebrew by either the marker (ס) or the marker (פ), which I have rendered at (S) and (P)].
    3. Are the first two dibrot included in the first parshia? From a grammar perspective, what else is special about the first two dibrot? (in other words, the first parshia?)

     

    How many dibrot are there? How many could there be?

     

    Take a look at the copied page from the Etz Chayim chumash, where they have printed the public version of the Aseret Ha-Dibrot. [Note: the standard version above, called "Ta'am Tachton," has most of the trope below the letters, while the version for public Torah reading, called "Ta'am Elyon," has the trope written above the Hebrew letters. The version above contains both sets of trope.]

     

    How does the Ta'am Elyon divide up the verses of the Aseret Dibrot? What is the logic behind it?

  3. (כח) וַֽיְהִי־שָׁ֣ם עִם־ה' אַרְבָּעִ֥ים יוֹם֙ וְאַרְבָּעִ֣ים לַ֔יְלָה לֶ֚חֶם לֹ֣א אָכַ֔ל וּמַ֖יִם לֹ֣א שָׁתָ֑ה וַיִּכְתֹּ֣ב עַל־הַלֻּחֹ֗ת אֵ֚ת דִּבְרֵ֣י הַבְּרִ֔ית עֲשֶׂ֖רֶת הַדְּבָרִֽים׃

    (28) And [Moses] was there with the Eternal forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread, nor drank water. And he wrote upon the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten words.

  4. (יא) וַתִּקְרְב֥וּן וַתַּֽעַמְד֖וּן תַּ֣חַת הָהָ֑ר וְהָהָ֞ר בֹּעֵ֤ר בָּאֵשׁ֙ עַד־לֵ֣ב הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם חֹ֖שֶׁךְ עָנָ֥ן וַעֲרָפֶֽל׃ (יב) וַיְדַבֵּ֧ר ה' אֲלֵיכֶ֖ם מִתּ֣וֹךְ הָאֵ֑שׁ ק֤וֹל דְּבָרִים֙ אַתֶּ֣ם שֹׁמְעִ֔ים וּתְמוּנָ֛ה אֵינְכֶ֥ם רֹאִ֖ים זוּלָתִ֥י קֽוֹל׃ (יג) וַיַּגֵּ֨ד לָכֶ֜ם אֶת־בְּרִית֗וֹ אֲשֶׁ֨ר צִוָּ֤ה אֶתְכֶם֙ לַעֲשׂ֔וֹת עֲשֶׂ֖רֶת הַדְּבָרִ֑ים וַֽיִּכְתְּבֵ֔ם עַל־שְׁנֵ֖י לֻח֥וֹת אֲבָנִֽים׃

    (11) And you came near and stood under the mountain; and the mountain blazed with fire unto the heart of heaven, with darkness, cloud, and thick darkness. (12) And the Eternal spoke to you out of the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but you saw no form; only a voice. (13) And God declared unto you God's covenant, which God commanded you to perform, even the ten words; and God wrote them upon two tablets of stone.

  5. (יח) וַיִּתֵּ֣ן אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֗ה כְּכַלֹּתוֹ֙ לְדַבֵּ֤ר אִתּוֹ֙ בְּהַ֣ר סִינַ֔י שְׁנֵ֖י לֻחֹ֣ת הָעֵדֻ֑ת לֻחֹ֣ת אֶ֔בֶן כְּתֻבִ֖ים בְּאֶצְבַּ֥ע אֱלֹהִֽים׃

    (18) And God gave to Moses, when God had finished speaking with him upon mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.

  6. (טו) וַיִּ֜פֶן וַיֵּ֤רֶד מֹשֶׁה֙ מִן־הָהָ֔ר וּשְׁנֵ֛י לֻחֹ֥ת הָעֵדֻ֖ת בְּיָד֑וֹ לֻחֹ֗ת כְּתֻבִים֙ מִשְּׁנֵ֣י עֶבְרֵיהֶ֔ם מִזֶּ֥ה וּמִזֶּ֖ה הֵ֥ם כְּתֻבִֽים׃

    (15) And Moses turned, and went down from the mountain, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand; tablets that were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written.

  7. Compare these two sources to the next two sources.

    In your opinion, what does this mean? 

  8. (יב) וַיֹּ֨אמֶר ה' אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֗ה עֲלֵ֥ה אֵלַ֛י הָהָ֖רָה וֶהְיֵה־שָׁ֑ם וְאֶתְּנָ֨ה לְךָ֜  אֶת־לֻחֹ֣ת הָאֶ֗בֶן וְהַתּוֹרָה֙ וְהַמִּצְוָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר כָּתַ֖בְתִּי לְהוֹרֹתָֽם׃

    (12) And the Eternal said to Moses: ‘Come up to Me to the mountain and be there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, and the law and the commandment, which I have written, that you may teach them.’

  9. (כא) וְנָתַתָּ֧ אֶת־הַכַּפֹּ֛רֶת עַל־הָאָרֹ֖ן מִלְמָ֑עְלָה וְאֶל־הָ֣אָרֹ֔ן תִּתֵּן֙ אֶת־הָ֣עֵדֻ֔ת אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֶתֵּ֖ן אֵלֶֽיךָ׃

    (21) And you shall put the ark-cover on top upon the ark; and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you.

  10. Does this mean that there were two copies made? (If so why?)

    Or does this mean that the Dibrot were written half on one tablet and half on the other?

     

    How should they be divided? How would this relate to their content?

  11. והנראה במכתב הלוחות שהיו החמש ראשונות בלוח אחד שהם כבוד הבורא כמו שהזכרתי, והחמש השניות בלוח אחד, שיהיו חמש כנגד חמש, כענין שהזכירו בספר יצירה (א ג) בעשר ספירות בלי מה כמספר עשר אצבעות, חמש כנגד חמש, וברית יחיד מכוונת באמצע ומזה יתברר לך למה היו שתים, כי עד כבד את אביך הוא כנגד תורה שבכתב, ומכאן ואילך כנגד תורה שבעל פה ונראה שלזה רמזו רבותינו ז''ל שאמרו (תנחומא עקב י) שתי לוחות כנגד שמים וארץ וכנגד חתן וכלה וכנגד שני שושבינין וכנגד שני עולמים. וכל זה רמז אחד, והמשכיל יבין הסוד:

    What makes sense with regards to the writing of the tablets is that the five first ones are on one tablet, which are about Honoring the Creator, as I have mentioned, and the second set of five on one tablet, which makes five against five, as they mentioned in Sefer Yeztira (1:3), with regards to the ten sefirot, which is also like the number of ten fingers, five against five, and a personal covenant is meant in the middle, and from this it is made clear why there are two, because until Honor Your Father, which corresponds to the Written Torah, and from here onwards, they correspond to the Oral Torah, and it seems that our Sages hinted at this when they said; Two tablets corresponding to Heaven and Earth, and corresponding to Groom and Bride, and corresponding to two wedding attendants, and corresponding to two worlds. And all of this is one hint, and the enlightened one will understand the secret.

    • Are these Ten Dibrot of a different quality than the remaining mitzvot of the Torah?
    • If yes, what is special about them?
    • If not, why are these the ones give at Mount Sinai, in contrast to all the other ones, given at different times and different settings?
  12. (א) לאהבי ולשומרי מצותי הנראה ממשמעות הכתוב שזו הבטחה בענין המצות האלו אשר הזכיר, יאמר כי הוא עושה בהן חסד לאלפים לאהביו, הם המוסרים נפשם עליו, כי המודים בשם הנכבד ובאלהותו לבדו ויכפרו בכל אלוה נכר ולא יעבדו אותם עם סכנת נפשם, יקראו אוהביו, כי זו היא האהבה שנתחייבנו בה בנפשותינו, כמו שאמר ואהבת את ה' אלהיך בכל לבבך ובכל נפשך (דברים ו ה), שתמסור נפשך וחייך באהבתו, שלא תחליפנו באל אחר, ולא תשתף עמו אל נכר ולכך נאמר באברהם זרע אברהם אוהבי (ישעיה מא ח), שנתן נפשו שלא יעבוד ע''ז באור כשדים. ושאר הצדיקים יקראו שומרי מצותיו:

    To those who love Me, and who keep My commandments. It seems that the meaning of this verse is a promise regarding these commandments that God mentioned; God says that the one who does them, God will deal with kindly them for one thousand generations; they will give their live for God, for they acknowledge the Honored Name, and God's divinity alone, and they ignore all foreign divinity, and do not serve them, even when one's life is in danger - they are called God's Lovers, because this is the love where people devote their lives, as it says: "And you shall love the Eternal your God with all your heart, and with all your soul" (Devarim 6:5), that they will give their souls and lives with love, that they will not switch to another god, and will not associate with a foreign god, and thus it says about Avraham: "the seed of Avraham, My lover" (Isaiah 41:8), for Avraham gave his life because he would not serve idols in Ur Casdim, and the rest of the Tzadikim are called those who Keep My Commandments.

    • Do any of these Ten Dibrot apple to non-Jews as well?
    • If so, which dibrot only apply to the Jewish people, and which laws apply to all of humanity?
    • Can you explain why?
    • Relate your answer to Shemot 19:5-6!
  13. (ה) וְעַתָּ֗ה אִם־שָׁמ֤וֹעַ תִּשְׁמְעוּ֙ בְּקֹלִ֔י וּשְׁמַרְתֶּ֖ם אֶת־בְּרִיתִ֑י וִהְיִ֨יתֶם לִ֤י סְגֻלָּה֙ מִכָּל־הָ֣עַמִּ֔ים כִּי־לִ֖י כָּל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃ (ו) וְאַתֶּ֧ם תִּהְיוּ־לִ֛י מַמְלֶ֥כֶת כֹּהֲנִ֖ים וְג֣וֹי קָד֑וֹשׁ אֵ֚לֶּה הַדְּבָרִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר תְּדַבֵּ֖ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

    (5) Now therefore, if you will obey My voice, and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own treasure from among all peoples; for all the earth is Mine; (6) and you shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. These are the words which you shalt speak to the B'nai Yisrael.’

  14. (ד) חוקותי ותורותי - לפי עיקר פשוטו: (מצות) הניכרות (=השכליות) כגון: גזל ועריות, וחימוד, ודינין, והכנסת אורחים, כולם היו נוהגין קודם מתן תורה, אלא שנתחדש ונתפרש לישראל וכרתו ברית לקיימו.

    My laws and My instructions - According to the essence of its contextual meaning: (commandments) that are self-evident (= rational), such as: theft, sexual immorality, and coveting, and courts, and welcoming guests, everyone was accustomed to them before the Giving of the Torah, but they were renewed and made explicit for Yisrael, and they made a Covenant to uphold them.

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