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    The Judge spoke

    The Ten Commandments begin, “And God (E-lohim) spoke all these words, saying: I am the Lord your God (Ado-nai E-lohecha)…”

    Quoting the Mechilta, Rashi reminds us that E-lohim often means a judge. The Almighty was speaking as the God of Justice when He gave the Decalogue.

    The name Ado-nai means Lord of Mercy, but here it was in the capacity of a judicial authority that he was speaking. He was not lovingly counselling the people not to kill or steal, which might have implied, “But if you do kill or steal My mercy will save you from the consequences of your actions.”

    No: He was laying down the law. He was not sharing with them ten suggestions but saying that there were times when there had to be firm rules – as the Yiddish saying puts it, Lo mit an aleph – NO!

    The Almighty was (as the rabbinic phrase puts it) seated on His judicial chair, decreeing that transgressing the ten rules would bring punishment.

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