In the Hebrew words of the Torah, The Big Ten are not called “The Ten Commandments” as most people of all faiths have been taught.
In Hebrew they are literally called Aseret Hadevarim — The Ten Words Or The Ten Things. (The Hebrew word “devarim” can refer to “words” or “things”).
וַֽיְהִי־שָׁ֣ם עִם־יְהוָ֗ה אַרְבָּעִ֥ים יוֹם֙ וְאַרְבָּעִ֣ים לַ֔יְלָה לֶ֚חֶם לֹ֣א אָכַ֔ל וּמַ֖יִם לֹ֣א שָׁתָ֑ה וַיִּכְתֹּ֣ב עַל־הַלֻּחֹ֗ת אֵ֚ת דִּבְרֵ֣י הַבְּרִ֔ית עֲשֶׂ֖רֶת הַדְּבָרִֽים׃Shemot/Exodus 34:28
And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he ate no bread and drank no water; and he wrote down on the tablets the terms of the covenant, the Ten Words.
The mistranslation to “Ten Commandments” comes from the Christian translators of the King James Bible in 1611 C.E.
Rabbinically, they’re called Aseret Hadibrot — The Ten Utterances, based on the common root word.
The so-called “Ten Commandments” in Exodus 20…In the Torah, these words are never referred to as the Ten Commandments. In the Torah, they are called Aseret ha-D’varim (Ex. 34:28, Deut. 4:13, Deut. 10:4).
In rabbinical texts, they are referred to as Aseret ha-Dibrot. The words d’varim and dibrot come from the Hebrew root Dalet-Beit-Reish, meaning word, speak or thing; thus, the phrase is accurately translated as the Ten Sayings, the Ten Statements, the Ten Declarations, the Ten Words or even the Ten Things, but not as the Ten Commandments, which would be Aseret ha-Mitzvot.Judaism 101
Aseret means Ten. Ha means The.
Here’s the tricky part: The Utterances themselves are referred to as mitzvot (plural), in other places in the Torah. Mitzvot are commonly translated as “commandments,” yet as a body of work the Big Ten are called Utterances, not Mitzvot.
It seemed to be incongruous until I realized the term Ten Utterances aligned with the deeper meaning of the word Mitzvah.
The root word of mitzvah is “tzavta,” which means “connection.” When interpreting Torah, root words of Hebrew words provide deeper, richer levels of understanding and meaning.
“The deeper meaning of the word mitzvah is not command, but connection.”Alter Rebbe Shneur Zalman of Liady, founder and first Rebbe of Chabad
In contrast to a “commandment” a connection requires one to operate at a much higher level of receptivity and consciousness. A connection requires one to resonate with the consciousness of another entity.
A connection is a link between two or more separate entities, therefore, a “mitzvah” becomes the agent of connection between humans and the Divine.
For a “commandment” to exist it must be issued from one being to another. A command gives-out. A connection is received. The word Kabbalah, means “to receive.” In order for a connection to exist between two beings, it must be willingly received on an energetic level.
The word “commandment” is a simple concept to grasp. Who among us has not been commanded to do something by a person with power and authority over us? Be it a teacher, boss, bully, drill sergeant or family member, we have all experienced the one-sided (and intimidating) nature of a command.
The Ten Utterances, refers to speech and speaking. A connection (vs a commandment) is a synergistic communing. It speaks to you.
A Commandment is an order. An Utterance is a connection that must be willingly received.
©️2019 All Rights Reserved (Shiur 01.09.19)