Sign In Forgot Password

                           Parsha Yitro

Rabbi Steven Bernstein

Exodus 20

1God spoke all these words, to respond:


אוַיְדַבֵּ֣ר אֱלֹהִ֔ים אֵ֛ת כָּל־הַדְּבָרִ֥ים הָאֵ֖לֶּה לֵאמֹֽר:

2"I am the Lord, your God, Who took you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.


באָֽנֹכִ֨י יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ אֲשֶׁ֣ר הֽוֹצֵאתִ֩יךָ֩ מֵאֶ֨רֶץ מִצְרַ֜יִם מִבֵּ֣ית עֲבָדִ֗ים:

This week’s Torah portion contains the Dibraya, known in English as the 10 Commandments. Dibraya, literally means word of Hashem. In Judaism, the Dibraya are not commonly  called the 10 commandments because there are actually 613 commandments. So, what makes the Dibraya different from all of the other commandments? Why are these 10 written on the Sapphire tablets and not other commandments?

When the Pharisees asked Yeshua what the most important commandment was, he responded, “you shall love Hashem your God with all your heart, with all your Nefesh and with all your strength.” Then Yeshua said, “and almost as important, love your neighbor as yourself.” Neither of these commitments are in the Dibraya. Yet these are the most important of all the commandments.

Yeshua points to 2 commandments. Specifically, but they are very broad commandments. “You shall love Hashem your God,” does not explain was how to love Hashem our God. Yeshua simply states that this is the most important of the commandments. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” does not explain how we should love our neighbor as ourselves. Yeshua simply states that this commandment is almost as important as the prior commandment. Upon further inspection, we see that these 2 commandments are, in reality, categories of commandments, rather than specific commandments in and of themselves.

In understanding that the 2 great commandments are actually categories of other commandments gives us direction in understanding the Dibraya. Of the 10 words of the Dibraya, the first 5 are also categories, categories of how to love Hashem your God. The second 5 words are categories of how to love your neighbor as yourself. So, the 2 great commandments are major headings for the Dibraya itself. 5 commandments are how to love God and 5 commandments are how to love your neighbor. What about the rest of the commandments? The 613 commandments, each individually, falls into one of the categories of the Dibraya. Each of the Dibraya falls into a category of the 2 great commandments noted by Yeshua.

For instance, the commandment of “for 7 days, you shall eat matzah,” falls under the category of the Dibraya of Shabbat. The commandment regarding sanctuary cities falls into the category of “thou shalt not murder.” The commandment of “thou shalt not hold a worker’s wages overnight,” falls into the category “thou shalt not steal.” Every one of the 613 commandments can be categorized in this manner.

So the 2 commandments are the Dibraya are the 613 commandments. The Dibraya is important because it categorizes each one of the 613 commandments so they may be more generally understood. We have the 2 great commandments, and we need the Dibraya to understand the 2 commandments. We had the Dibraya, and we need the 613 commandments to understand the Dibraya. We have the 613 commandments, and we need the oral tradition of Israel to understand the 613 commandments. Shabbat shalom.


Sat, April 13 2024 5 Nisan 5784