Friday, February 17, 2006

The 10 Somethings

Since this is the week we read the 10 Commandments (Exodus Ch 19-20), here is a mini trivia quiz you can use at the dinner table – test your Jewish IQ....

What is the real (Jewish) name for the 10 Commandments?
A. “Asarah Ha-Diburos/Diburot” - the 10 Statements

To whom are the 10 Statements given?
A: The Israelites

Where were the 10 Statements given?
A: Mt. Sinai

Where is the real Mt Sinai?
A: nobody knows, but very certainly not the mountain on the Sinai Peninsula that is called “Mt Sinai”. It doesn’t fit the description AT ALL. The real Mt. Sinai is supposed to be a relatively small mountain, beside a plain large enough to hold 1-2 million people. Some of the proposed candidates are Mt. Musa (Moses?) in Saudi Arabia and Mt. Yeroham in the Negev (see

What did Mt. Sinai look like?
A: When the Bnai Yisrael / Children of Israel arrived, the Mountain was covered with blooming flowers.

Why didn’t Moses just write them down – why did they have to be spoken to the entire nation?
A: The people insisted – they told Moses, “this is too important an historic moment, we want to “hear it from the horse’s mouth”, so to speak.

What did God reply when Moses reported that the people wanted to hear the Torah themselves?
A: “Absolutely.”

Did the People hear all 10 statements?
A: First, they heard all 10 simultaneously, and of course they couldn’t understand. Then they heard them one by one. However, after the first two, it was so overwhelming that they asked Moses to take over, and they would be happy to hear the rest second-hand from him.

What did God’s voice sound like?
A: The Midrash tells that the experience affected all 5 senses. First, the mountain became covered with a think black smoke, like a furnace and there was the piercing sound of a shofar. Then the voice started. Not only did they hear the words, they also saw the words, smelled the words, tasted the words, felt the words caressing them. It was an experience without parallel.

Why are the 10 Statements grouped into two groups of five?
A: The first group of 5 teaches how we should relate to God and the second group of 5 how to relate to each other.

Finally, can you name the 10 (bonus if you get them in order)?

1. Know that I am God
2. Don’t ascribe power to anything else (no other gods)
3. Be careful how you speak: Don’t use the name “God” unless you’re talking about God
4. Keep and celebrate the Shabbat – the day of stopping your creative activity in order to refresh and acknowledge that the world will keep on running even if you don’t run around 24/7
5. Honor your parents (which means listening to them when you’re a child and taking care of them when you’re an adult).
6. Be faithful in all your adult relationships – don’t commit adultery.
7. Don’t murder (this includes embarrassing someone in public – which is akin to murder).
8. Don’t steal – including lying or misleading (unless it’s in response to a woman’s question, “do I look fat?”), which is “stealing knowledge”
9. Don’t bear false witness.
10. Don’t desire other people’s stuff.

Shabbat Shalom.


Samuel Colon said...

Great article. Great post.

socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Good questions!

socialworker/frustrated mom said...
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