The notion of there being ten commandments — that is, theTen Commandments — permeates Judeo-Christian religious philosophy, despite the fact that the Old Testament is, for the most part, full of many more directives. In addition to the Jewish opinion that, like the rest of the laws of the Old Testament, these Ten Commandments do not apply to gentiles, we also maintain a fair degree of ambivalence when it comes to declaring a special status for these ten commandments for Jews themselves.
For to say that the Ten Commandments are special is to say that either everything else, or at the very least, something else, is less special. If the Ten Commandments are central and primary in any sort of manner, everything else, in that manner, is peripheral and secondary.
Maimonides ruled that “the entire Torah given via Moses, our master, may he rest in peace, is from on high in its entirety…and there is no distinction to be made between the verses — so that “v’Timna haisa pilegesh” (“And Timna was a concubine,” Genesis 36:12, a seemingly superfluous, unimportant comment) and “anochi Hashem Elokecha” (“I am the Lord your God,” Exodus 20:2, the opening line of the Ten Commandments, a seemingly monumentally consequential comment) are equally as impressive and holy.
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