Talmud: The Ten Commandments are Embedded in the Shema Passages

Rabbi Levi in the Talmud Yerushalmi proposes a kind of Midrash, namely that in the verses of the Shema` one can find the principles of the Ten Commandments. [Translation by Tzvee Zahavy]

[II.A] Why do they recite these two passages [Deut. 6:4-9 and Deut. 11:13-21] each day? R. Levi and R. Simon [disputed this question].

[B] R. Simon said, "Because in them we find mention of lying down and rising up [in Deut. 6:7 and Deut. 11:19. These are allusions to the beginning and end of each day when the Shema` is recited]."

[C] R. Levi said. "Because the ten commandments are embodied in the [paragraphs of the Shema` as follows:]

[D] [1] "I am the Lord your God" [Exod. 20:2], [is implied by the phrase], "Hear, O Israel the Lord our God" [Deut. 6:4].

[E] [2] "You shall have no other Gods before me" [Exod. 20:3], [is implied by the phrase], "One Lord" [Deut. 6:4].

[F] [3] "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain" [Exod. 20:7], [is implied by the phrase], "And you shall love the Lord your God" [Deut. 6:5]. [How so?] One who loves the king does not swear falsely in his name.

[G] [4] "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy" [Exod. 20:8], [is implied by the phrase], "So that you shall remember [and do all my commandments]" [Num. 15:40].

[H] [Rabbi teaches that the Sabbath is equivalent in importance to all the commandments as follows:] Rabbi says, "[The phrase, `All my commandments,' refers to the commandment [to keep] the Sabbath which is equivalent in weight to all the other commandments of the Torah. As it is written, "And you did make known to them thy holy Sabbath and command them commandments and statutes and laws by Moses thy servant" [Neh. 9:14]. This informs you that it [the Sabbath] is equal in weight to all of the commandments of the Torah."

[I] [5] "Honor your father and your mother [that your days in the land may be long]" [Exod. 20:12], [is implied by the phrase], "That your days and the days of your children may be multiplied" [Deut. 11:21]. [The reference to a long life is an allusion to the reward for honoring one's parents.]

[J] [6] "You shall not murder" [Exod. 20:13], [is implied by the phrase], "And you [shall] perish quickly" [Deut. 11:17]. [This implies that] whoever murders, will be killed.

[K] [7] "You shall not commit adultery" [Exod. 20:14], [is implied by the phrase], "[And remember. . . ] not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes" [Num. 15:39].

[L] [This accords with the following teaching.] Said R. Levi. "The heart and the eyes are the two procurers of sin. As it is written, `My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways' [Prov. 23:26. In the verses which follow, Prov. 23:27-35, the harlot is a metaphor for sin.]

[M] Said the Holy One, Blessed be He, "If you give me your heart and your eyes than I shall know that you are mine."

[N] [8] "You shall not steal" [Exod. 20:15], is implied by the phrase], "That you may gather in your grain [and your wine and oil]" [Deut. 11:14]. [Your grain implies that you may gather only yours] and not the grain of your fellow.

[O] [9] "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor" [Exod. 20:16], [is implied by the phrase] "I am the Lord your God" [Num. 15:41]. [This is followed in the liturgy of the blessings of the Shema` by the word "true." Just as God is true, so should a person tell the truth.]

[P] And [in further support of this teaching] it is written, "But the Lord is the true God" [Jer. 10:10].

[Q] What is [another interpretation of the word, `True']? Said R. Abun, "That means he is the living God and King of the Universe." [The word 'mt, true, is an acronym for the Hebrew 'lwhm mlk tmyd, God the everlasting king. [P.M.]]

[R] Said R. Levi, "Said the Holy One blessed be He, `If you bore false witness against your friend, I deem it as if you had borne witness against me, that I did not create the heavens and the earth.'"

[S] [10] "You shall not covet your neighbor's house" [Exod. 20:17], [is implied by the phrase], "And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house" [Deut. 6:9]. [Write them on, "Your house" and not on those of your friend's house [Do not covet your neighbor's house].

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