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    The Big Ten & the others – Yitro

    Ten commandments luchotEveryone knows how important the Ten Commandments are.

    But few people realise that there is a link that binds the Big Ten in this week’s sidra with the other 603 mitzvot, many of which come in next week’s reading, Mishpatim.

    The link is the Hebrew letter vav, “and”. The sages say that this “and” tells us that just as the Big Ten are from Sinai, so are the rest of the 613.

    The Sefer HaChinuch works out that there are 53 mitzvot in Mishpatim. In exactly the same way as the Big Ten begin “I am the Lord your God”, so in a sense “I am the Lord your God” is implied at the beginning of each of these 53.

    Not only do we have “I am the Lord your God: you shall not kill”, but “I am the Lord your God: you shall treat your workers properly”.

    God’s commands don’t only deal with the weeks but the days, not only the hours but the minutes. When people say, “I’m not so religious, but I keep the Ten Commandments”, I hope they’re not saying that the little acts of duty and kindness can be dispensed with.

    Both the big print and the small print are essential to being a good Jew.

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