The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-14) hold a unique and powerful authority in the Jewish mind.  This is where the core of our faith is expressed: there is one G-d, the One and only, whom we revere and worship.  This is where Shabbat is blessed and sanctified as a day of rest for all and where "you shall honor your father and your mother" is commanded as a performing value within a family, from generation to generation.  This is where innocent human life is sanctified ("you shall not murder"), where property rights are protected ("you shall not steal") and where decency in dealings with others is obligated upon us ("you shall not covet").

Within this special list of core beliefs and values, which define the divinely ordained prerequisites for peaceful souls, families and society, there are two more commandments: "you shall not commit adultery" and "you shall not bear false witness".  The common theme to these two commandments is trust.  When you promise, when you make a vow, when you take an oath - be faithful and truthful.  You shall not violate a trust.

Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel said: "The world endures on three things - justice, truth and peace" (Avot 1:18).  There is no justice without truthful testimonies, and justice and truth are needed for peace in society.  On the same level, imagine the turmoil of a child trying to fulfil "you shall honor your" adulterous parent.  Adultery hurts children and spouses and destroys peace in the family.  There is no wonder then that the Torah - the guide for moral life - elevates the prohibitions of adultery and false testimony to the Top Ten.

-- Judah Ari-Gur


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