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What is HKBH trying to teach us by his choice of commandments that make up the Aseret haDibrot

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Welcome to Judaism.SE, and thanks very much for the interesting question! Please consider registering your account, to help the site keep track of all your contributions. – Isaac Moses Jun 10 '11 at 14:36

3 Answers 3

There are many reasons. Gershon pointed out the balance between those for God and those for other people. Another is that the rabbis in the talmud (will look up source later) say that all other mitzvot can be derived from these ten -- they are, in a sense, "summary" mitzvot. Another (this may be more modern) is that they are the foundation of a functional society.

One might also ask why we think there are exactly ten here (besides "tradition", I mean), and why ten is a special number.

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The Ralbag holds all the mitzvot can be derived from the Dibrot. – RCW Jun 10 '11 at 18:12
@RCW: as does R' Saadiah Gaon. – Alex Jun 10 '11 at 18:41
@RCW, @Alex, The source of this idea is actually in Bamidbar Rabbah. I have the specific source written down somewhere, and will iy"h post it when I find it. – jake Jun 10 '11 at 19:39
Thanks for the sources. I thought when I posted that I had a note about this somewhere but I haven't found it. – Monica Cellio Jun 10 '11 at 21:23
Thank you Jake and Alex. You are welcome Monica. – RCW Jun 10 '11 at 22:22

The first 5 are commandments that are between man and G-D, the next 5 are commandments that are between man and his fellow man. This shows that they are of equal importance.

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I think its clear why the first 8 are part of the Aseres haDibros:

  1. God's existence - Most fundamental principle of Judaism
  2. No Idolatry - Worst sin in Judaism
  3. No false/vain oaths - Once recognize God, must respect His Name
  4. Sabbath - Testimony to God's creation of Universe.
  5. Honoring Parents - God and parents are partners in a person's creation.
  6. 7, 8. Don't Murder, Don't do Adultery, Don't Steal/Kidnap. These are the 3 [worst] categories of sins to other man.

The other 2 are perhaps less expected:

9- Don't do False testimony - This is a way of causing terrible harm without physically doing anything, and involves perversion of justice too.

10- Don't Covet - This affects the person who covets, and may lead to other sins also.

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