This Shabbos, Jewish congregations around the world read Parshas Yisro, which describes our receiving the Torah at Mt. Sinai. G-d made Ten Dibros, or Declarations (commonly referred to as the Ten Commandments, but by all accounts there are more than ten Mitzvos therein), which were inscribed upon two Tablets.

Our Sages point out that an even division across two tablets is actually very uneven. The first five of these Dibros are entire paragraphs, while the second are very brief, e.g. “You shall not murder.” The longest of these is the last: “You shall not covet your friend’s wife, his servant, his maidservant, his ox, his donkey, and all that is your friend’s.”

How, then, would these Ten Dibros be inscribed on two tablets of equal size?

One answer from our Sages was: indeed, both sets filled an entire tablet — the second set was inscribed with much larger letters.

What happens when you use a larger font? The message is louder, bolder and clearer. HaShem begins by telling us our obligations towards Him, but the second set declares our obligations towards each other.

The message of the larger letters is: these, too, are Torah. We must not forget that just as G-d expects us to follow His ways with Him, we must also follow His ways with each other. Rabbi Yisrael Salanter said that it is easier to learn the entire Talmud than to change a single personal trait for the better — but this is our task.

Good Shabbos!

Rabbi Yaakov Menken
Director, Project Genesis –

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