19

A general rule is stated in the Talmud (Ketubot 19a): דאמר מר אין לך דבר שעומד בפני פיקוח נפש אלא עבודת כוכבים וגלוי עריות ושפיכות דמים בלבד for a Master said: 'There is nothing that comes before the saving of life except idolatry, incest and bloodshed only. (Soncino translation) (“Incest” is actually an imprecise translation. The term giluy arayot ...


14

I. Among the 10 commandments there are 3 that are not overridden by pikuach nefesh (i.e. יהרג ואל יעבור): Idolatry Murder Forbidden sexual relations II. Additionally, all other commandments cannot be overridden under specific conditions: If a gentile forces him to violate any one mitzva, not for his own personal benefit, but solely to have him violate the ...


12

Rambam in Yesodei HaTorah ch. 1 explicitly uses this as the source for the commandment to know of Hashem’s existence. יְסוֹד הַיְסוֹדוֹת וְעַמּוּד הַחָכְמוֹת לֵידַע שֶׁיֵּשׁ שָׁם מָצוּי רִאשׁוֹן. וְהוּא מַמְצִיא כָּל נִמְצָא. וְכָל הַנִּמְצָאִים מִשָּׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ וּמַה שֶּׁבֵּינֵיהֶם לֹא נִמְצְאוּ אֶלָּא מֵאֲמִתַּת הִמָּצְאוֹ: וְאִם יַעֲלֶה עַל ...


5

Sefer Hachinuch counts this as Mitzvah 25. In short, the Mitzvah is belief in G-d. מצות האמנה במציאות השם - להאמין שיש לעולם אלה אחד, שהמציא כל הנמצא ומכחו וחפצו היה כל מה שהוא ושהיה ושיהיה לעדי עד, וכי הוא הוציאנו מארץ מצרים ונתן לנו את התורה. שנאמר בתחלת נתינת התורה (שמות כ ב) אנכי ה' אלהיך אשר הוצאתיך מארץ מצרים וגו'. ופרושו כאלו אמר תדעו ...


5

R' Samson Raphael Hirsch's translation1 of this verse is similar to the convention you cite: Thou shalt have no other God before My Presence. However, R' Hirsch's commentary on this verse does sound very much like it's directing us to take the phrase "לא יהיה" to mean an absolute negation of being1: ... If God is God, then everything except Him is "no-...


5

It would seem that original Minhag Ashkenaz was to use ta'am elyon only on Shavu'ot, but on shabbat parashat yitro and shabbat parashat va'etchanan to use ta'am tachton. This can be seen in the commentary of Hizkuni to Shemot 20:14, and is also the practice prescribed by Masat Binyamin, quoted in Magen Avraham 494:1. Magen Avraham also notes the Sephardic ...


5

Non-Jews are held responsible by seven laws, known as the Seven Laws of Noah. All of those laws are contained within the Decalogue, with exception to the third law1, the seventh law2, and to an extent, the fifth law3. The Decalogue contains several laws not found in the Seven Laws of Noah, namely the fourth command4, the fifth command5, the ninth command6, ...


3

The "big ten" are basically category headers for the major categories of Mitzvos (see Rashi on Shemos 24:12). Stealing is the archetypal example of property crimes, and "Do Not Steal" is the main prohibition is the larger category of property crimes and respecting others property, generally. Adultery is the archetypal sexual sin, and it serves as the header ...


3

I think it's simply that Yisro is the first interesting word in the text. (As Al Berko wrote in his comment.) But we shouldn't underestimate how much his contribution added to the giving of the Torah. We generally discuss his suggestion to have a hierarchy of "sarim" (leaders) in terms of courts and adjudication. But they were there to answer questions in ...


3

Neither "do not kill" nor "do not murder" is really an accurate translation of "לא תרצח" (at least according to common understandings of those English words). There are certainly times when it's permitted (and even required) to kill people (e.g. executions, self-defense, war, etc.) so this is clearly not a blanket prohibition on killing. On the other hand, ...


3

See "Chizkuni" (Shemos 20:13) ולשון זה של "רציחה" לא שייך רק במיתה שלא כדין, אבל לשון מיתה ולשון הריגה, בין בדין בין שלא כדין Chizkuni differentiates between הריגה ("killing") and רציחה ("murder"). He states that "murder" only refers to killing when it is unlawful. But if a person kills lawfully, he does not violate the commandment. Accordingly, the ...


2

You can read in detail about the issue in this great article. To keep it short, Shevuot 20b mentions that the two versions were said in a single utterance, which is beyond human comprehension: כדתניא זכור ושמור בדיבור אחד נאמרו, מה שאין יכול הפה לדבר, ומה שאין האוזן יכול לשמוע.‏ As it has been taught: Remember and keep were pronounced in a single ...


2

There are certain people for which the prohibition falls aside. (I’m not even referring to capital punishment here, or extralegal punishment performed by Beis Din.) One is obligated to kill in self-defense (Sanhedrin 72a) and if one is chasing after someone else to kill, rape, or some other of a specific list of sins (Sanhedrin 73a). With that category ...


2

This short article (Hebrew) by Prof Yosef Ofer explains that the two sets of trope are essentially the products of two different mesorot: The set known as ta'am tachton, which breaks the Decalogue into twelve verses, is the Israeli mesorah. The set known as ta'am elyon, which breaks the Decalogue into ten verses (one per commandment), is based on the ...


2

'The Rabbis point out that all the precepts of the Decalogue had been practised by the Patriarchs and had become the family tradition of their children' (Rabbi Joseph H. Hertz, The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, p. 403). This granted, the chiddush in Shemot 20+ is that (1) God Himself, accompanied by angels, comes down from Heaven and speaks the Ten Commandments ...


1

According to many commentators (Ibn Ezra, Chizkuni, Sforno) לא תנאף does not only mean "Do not commit adultery". It ALSO includes any type of prohibited sexual acts. According to the Talmud (Niddah 13b) the verse also includes proscribes male masturbation. תנא דבי רבי ישמעאל "לא תנאף", לא תהא בך ניאוף בין ביד בין ברגל Rashi (ibid.) ביד - מוציא זרע לבטלה [...


1

Here's an explanation you might find satisfactory: The first difference between the 2 versions is who said it - the first was said by G-d and the second by Moses and as indirect prophecy (it wasn't preceded by "וידבר הק אל משה לאמר" - he described the Decalogue in his own words. The second is to whom they were said: the first was said to the Generation of ...


1

This is how Or HaChaim sees it (here): "כתובים באצבע אלהים": והודיע הכתוב אופן כתיבת הלוחות במה נכתבו ואמר כתובים באצבע אלהים. פירוש כי היה ה' מצייר צורת האות באצבעו כביכול. פירוש בחינת אור אחד מאורו יתברך בדמות אצבע כנגד הלוח כשיעור שטח אברי האותיות כדי שלא יהיה חרות אלא את אשר יצייר כנגדו ולצד עוצם תוקף אורו יתברך לא היה אור של הלוחות יכול עמוד בכל ...


1

The Zohar (vol. 2, p. 67b) states that Yisro's recognition of Hashem was a necessary prerequisite for the Torah to be given: רָזָא דְּמִלָּה, בְּשַׁעֲתָא דְּהַאי מֶלֶךְ וְהַאי כֹּהֵן אִתְכַּפְיָין, וְאִתְּבָּרוּ, כְּדֵין כָּל סִטְרִין אַחֲרָנִין אִתְכַּפְיָין, וְאוֹדָן לֵיהּ לְּקוּדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא, כְּדֵין קוּדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא שָׁלִיט בִּלְחוֹדוֹי ...


1

There are two words - הרג and רצח. Whereas 'הרג' connotes killing, and 'רצח' denotes murder. (I have seen evidence for this in the writings of R' Saadya Gaon, particularly in אמונה ודעות)


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