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Wednesday, 3 February 2010

*guest post by BossGiraffe

I’m not a fan of The Ten Commandments!

There…I’ve gotten your attention. This week’s Torah portion, Yitro, contains what is arguably the most famous section of the entire Bible. It is commonly called The Ten Commandments, though this is actually a misnomer. In Jewish Tradition, it is known as Aseret Ha-Dibrot—The Ten Statements, which is a more apt description, considering that the First “Commandment” is “I am the Eternal your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.” Wouldn’t you agree that’s more of a statement than a commandment?

So, what’s my problem with The Ten Commandments? Well, let me put it this way: I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard people say, “I’m not very religious, but at least I try to live my life by The Ten Commandments.” I question that statement because I’ve done the following experiment dozens of times: I’ve asked a class of adults to list The Ten Commandments. The group typically comes up with 8 or 9 or 11 or 12. If they come up with 10, some of the 10 are not actually part of The Ten Commandments. So, how can people live by The Ten Commandments if they don’t even know what they are?

Further, we are all aware that one of The Ten Commandments reads “Remember (Exodus version)/Observe (Deuteronomy version) the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” How many of these folks who claim to live by The Ten Commandments can be found in shul on Friday night? If they’re not at services, have they lit candles and made kiddush at home? You know the answer!

Another concern: There is more to Judaism than following just 10 commandments. How about “Love your neighbor as yourself?” What about “Justice, justice shall you pursue?” And then we have the whole round of annual festivals listed in Leviticus, Chapter 23. Can you imagine Judaism without Pesach or Yom Kippur, for instance? Just how many commandments are there in the Torah? (Hint: the number is somewhere between 612 and 614.) The Ten Commandments? Not enough to live a meaningful Jewish life.

Should we do our best to follow The Ten Commandments? Sure. But, let’s not stop there!


The Sydney Taylor Book Award is presented annually to outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience. Presented by the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) since 1968, the Award encourages the publication and widespread use of quality Judaic literature. Gold medals are presented in three categories: Younger Readers, Older Readers, and Teen Readers. Honor Books are awarded silver medals, and Notable Books are named in each category. Thirty-three outstanding books were selected from among the over one hundred and twenty titles evaluated by the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee during 2009. The Committee recommends them for library, classroom, and home use. List of all 2010 Award, Honor, and Notable Books.

You won’t want to miss one moment of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour 2010! Check out the Association of Jewish Libraries for up-to-date tour info.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Elka Weber, author of The Yankee at the Seder
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
at BewilderBlog

Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Adam Gustavson, illustrator of The Yankee at the Seder
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
at Great Kids Books

Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Judy Vida, daughter of the late Selma Kritzer Silverberg, author of Naomi’s Song
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
at The Book Nosher

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Wednesday, 3 February 2010 6:46 pm

    AMEN! I agree. Plus, the “10 Commandments” aren’t really 10. And “Commandments” is a poor translation. Oy va voy!

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Thursday, 4 February 2010 11:42 am

      Exactly. I think that BossGiraffe got it right on with this post.


  1. Suggestions…Guidel … |

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