Q. The Ten Commandments
A.The Ten Commandments refers to the words (Exodus 20) that God wrote on the two stone tablets that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai (Exodus 31:18) and then smashed upon seeing the idolatry of the golden calf (Exodus 32:19). In the Hebrew Bible these words are called Aseret ha-D'vareem (the Ten Things), and in rabbinical texts they are called Aseret ha-Dibrot (the Ten Sayings or Utterances). Jewish tradition holds that the Ten Commandments are the ideological basis for the 613 commandments (mitzvot) in the Bible.
When the Israelites accepted the Ten Commandments from God at Mount Sinai, they committed themselves to following a moral code of behavior.
The Ten Commandments
1. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of slavery in Egypt.
2. You shall have no other gods but me.
3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
4. You shall remember and keep the Sabbath day holy.
5. Honor your father and mother.
6. You shall not murder.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
10. You shall not covet.
The rabbis teach that the first five sayings, on the left side of the tablet, concern man's relationship with God (belief in God, prohibition of improper worship, prohibition of oath, shabbat, respect for parents). The second five sayings, on the right side of the tablet, concern man's relationship with other people (prohibitions of murder, adultery, theft, false witness, coveting). Judaism teaches that our relationship to our parents is akin to our relationship to God because our parents created us. Disrespect of parents is considered an insult to God. Thus, respect for parents is included on the right side of the tablets with the other sayings that concern our relationship with God.
Judaism also teaches that the two tablets are parallel. In other words, our duties to God and our duties to people are equally important. If, however, one must choose between performing a duty to God or performing a duty to a person, one should first perform good deeds for another a person.