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What is the role of the Ten Commandments in Judaism?

The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue, are a central part of Jewish religious and ethical teachings. They are considered to be the foundation of Jewish law and serve as a guide for moral and ethical behavior.

In Judaism, the Ten Commandments are believed to have been given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. They are considered to be a covenant between God and the Jewish people and serve as a reminder of the obligations that Jews have to God and to one another.

The Ten Commandments are listed in the Torah, the primary Jewish sacred text, in the book of Exodus (Chapter 20) and in Deuteronomy (Chapter 5). They include:

  1. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.
  2. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them.
  3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  5. Honor your father and your 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 your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Jewish tradition teaches that these commandments are to be observed not only in their literal sense, but also in their broader implications. For example, the commandment not to murder is interpreted to include not causing harm to others through words or actions, and the commandment not to covet is understood to mean that one should be content with what they have and not be envious of others.

The Ten Commandments are read in synagogues on Shavuot, a Jewish holiday that commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. They are also recited daily in Jewish prayer services and are a constant reminder of the ethical and moral principles that are at the heart of Jewish tradition.
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