:Project Aseret's Curriculum Summary
The Ten Commandments as Core Values
The Ten Commandments contain only a small number of verses of the Bible, but they are its heart and soul. According to the Bible, only the Ten Commandments were heard by the entire Jewish people directly from God on Mount Sinai. Only the Ten Commandments were written on the Two Tablets “by the hand of God.” And only the Ten Commandments — nestled in the Ark of the Covenant — became the physical focal point of the Temple, and Jerusalem. Jewish tradition teaches that the Ten Commandments contain the entire Torah. So while it is true that the Ten Commandments should be understood as specific mitzvot, they also represent ten core values, each one being a wellspring for an entire area of life .
10. " Don’t Covet": Being happy with what you have!
If you or anyone in the world were asked what you really want more than anything else, you would probably say – to be happy. In the end, that's what we’re looking for. The problem starts when we look for happiness in the wrong places. We often think that happiness is to found in external achievements. We compare ourselves to others and imagine that if only we had their money, friends, social standing, grades, family, looks, then we would be happy.
But it doesn’t work like that. "Don’t covet” teaches us that it’s not good for us to live in a state of jealousy, desiring what other people have. That is not where happiness is found. People who covet, often get trapped in a vicious cycle. They are unhappy with what they have, so they desire what other people have, which makes them unhappier still. "Don’t covet" directs us to focus on the good things in our lives — our talents, successes, friends, health, family, opportunities, and everything we too often take for granted and forget to appreciate. Being happy with what we have empowers us to follow the path of life that suits us and is right for us — not to try to imitate others or acquire what they have. That will enable us to achieve true and lasting happiness.
8. “Don’t Steal”: What you earn yourself is much more valuable
When we hear the Commandment “Don’t steal”, we may think of masked robbers or millions being stolen from gigantic companies. But this important commandment is relevant to all of us. It addresses the fact that anyone can easily trip up and steal. There are opportunities to steal in many situations in life: illegally copying a song or downloading a movie, using a friend's equipment without permission, copying on a test (deceiving (“stealing the mind”) the teacher). Wasting the time of sales staff in stores when we have no intention of buying is also considered a form of theft.The obvious question is why do people steal? We all know stealing is a bad thing affecting everyone it touches and society as a whole. If we consider the root cause, we can see that someone who steals is a person interested in shortcuts. That person doesn’t realize the importance of the means used to acquire something—not just the end result. If we achieve something dishonestly it is worthless, like fake jewelry. "Don’t steal" teaches us that the road is no less important than the destination; that we must work hard for our successes by our own efforts. Don’t steal teaches us that we must respect what belongs to others—and avoid the damage that happens when we don’t…to them and to ourselves.
9. “Don’t Testify Falsely”: Stop putting people down; what you say has the power of life and death
How do you feel when people talk about you behind your back; when your classmates make fun of you? We get hurt not just from physical violence; when somebody attacks our reputation, our good name, it can hurt as much if not more. It’s true that the text of this Commandment refers to someone who lies in a court of law, but as a core value it also applies to many different kinds of “courts.” There’s the “court” of our friends, our classmates, our family, statuses or “likes” on Facebook— anywhere people judge us, judge who we are. There, too, we shouldn’t “testify falsely” by saying bad things about others. It’s just not good to gossip: Even among adults, spreading rumors about someone can be enough to kill them from inside; but at your age, you need to be a thousand times more careful, because young people are understandably so sensitive about their image. We’ve all heard about kids who tragically committed suicide because people made fun of them on Facebook. This could have been avoided had people heeded “Don’t testify falsely”.
7. “Don’t Commit Adultery”: Because love is loyalty
Love is one of the most talked about subjects in the world. Songs, movies, advertising—all try to sell us love. We all feel that love adds another dimension to life; makes us happy, enriches us. The Commandment “Don’t Commit Adultery “tells us that to gain true love you must be loyal. When we only focus on ourselves and do whatever we feel like without considering the other person and the results of our actions—that is not real love. When a person truly loves another person they realize that they need to invest in and work on the relationship and be loyal to the other person even when it is difficult and temptations get in the way. Real, consistent love can grow over time only when it is built on the foundation of commitment and loyalty.We mistakenly think that this commandment will only become relevant when we're married. But that isn't true. We must learn the importance of loyalty and discover what love really is from a young age. Already now, all our relationships need to be characterized by sincere caring and loyalty. Otherwise, if we act in ways that express a focus only on loving ourselves and not others, we will develop behaviors and attitudes that are hurtful and harmful to ourselves and others.
6. Don’t Murder: Conflicts must be solved through peaceful means
This Commandment seems completely irrelevant to us. Murder is something very terrible but very far from our personal daily lives; none of us wants to murder. But the truth is that this Commandment is very relevant. It speaks to all of us regarding how we choose to deal with conflicts and disputes that arise day to day. Unfortunately today, we are all exposed to violence in society…physical violence, verbal violence, psychological violence, and so on. The media publishes stories about terrible domestic violence, murder over a parking space or a beach chair; drunks stabbing each other over some comment; the movies and media are full of violence and aggression. Unfortunately, we have become used to seeing violence all around us and maybe we have become a bit desensitized to it and its effect on us. The Commandment "Don’t murder" reminds us that this is wrong and dangerous. Disputes should not be solved by murdering and silencing others or threatening others so that they give you what you want. Violent resolving of conflicts demonstrates the lack of commitment and ability to communicate and handle disputes peacefully. We must commit to respecting each other. We must learn to listen to each other, reach an understanding and find creative, reasonable solutions. This Commandment calls out to us to put an end to violence and commit to resolve our conflicts peacefully.
4. "Remember The Shabbat”: The time to remember what is truly important in life
Shabbat. The word itself communicates a sense of calm and peace. From The Ten Commandments we learn that Shabbat is a moral, educational, and social statement. On Shabbat we remember the fact that we were slaves in Egypt and commit ourselves to freeing the slaves of our own times. We free ourselves—from our dependency on work, external stimuli, TV, and so on... We stop our enslavement to racing after money, Facebook, social status.Shabbat gives us a chance to draw closer to ourselves—to stop the race of life for just a moment, stop everything we normally do, and just be. Be ourselves. Be with the people we are closest to; think about what really matters to us. See our lives from the "outside" for a change and reconnect with what is meaningful. Shabbat invites us into this silence each week anew. The Shabbat traditions create a space and time for us to realize the important values of family, tradition, looking inwards, and peace of mind.
2. “Don’t have other gods”: Don’t believe in fate; take responsibility for your life
This Commandment relates to the importance of loyalty to our heritage and the realization of the moral role of the Jewish people for over 3,500 years. “Don’t have other gods” also teaches us not to believe that our lives are controlled by “fate”, by outside forces. If you believe that what happens in your life is determined by fate then you don’t realize your ability to influence your destiny, you’re unaware of your free will to choose to do good, and make good things come into the world. How does that belief affect your values? We start acting responsibly by choosing right and good, acting morally, and trying to make the whole world a better place, when we stop believing that forces outside us control us—what the Ten Commandments calls "other gods". The commandment "You shall have no other gods" is the first step towards “tikun olam” making our own personal world, and the whole world in general a better place.
5. “Honor Your Parents”: The time is now
This Commandment addresses the understandable tension that the teenage years often bring out between us and our parents. On one hand, we know we must respect our parents. We feel grateful and are aware of how much we owe them. On the other hand we feel we are mature enough to make our own decisions about our lives without our parents' permission, and this causes tension. In certain areas of our lives we know more than our parents and we often feel they don't really understand what we are going through. Many of our conversations end up being about spending money, rides to friends, and arguing about curfews.This important commandment guides us not to lose sight of maintaining respect even when we start feeling responsible for our own lives and become increasingly independent. Respecting our parents does not mean that we always have to agree, but it does mean that we have to behave and speak with respect and consideration. We must remember that our parents love us more than anything in the world and that they also know us from the time we are born. So it is worth listening to what they have to say and their guidance. We do not have to agree with their views about everything, but if we maintain an attitude of respect and gratitude towards our parents we will find that we can gain from their experience, values, and good advice while developing our own personality and independent path in life.
3. “Don’t Take God’s Name in Vain”: Be a moral and ethical role model.
We all carry a burden of responsibility—the responsibility linked to our talents, abilities, knowledge, personality and purpose. Our Torah describes man as created in God's image. We therefore “carry” the name of God which is what is referred to in this Commandment which literally says “Do not carry the name of God in vain”. Just like an officer carries his rank on his shoulders, we all carry responsibility and individual purpose. Every day, each of us faces the choice of what to do with that responsibility. Did we fulfill our potential and carry out successfully our responsibilities?Especially when we reach the age of Bar and Bat Mitzvah—the age when we start to develop our own special personality—the journey of taking our responsibility seriously begins. Each of us in our own way can be a model of how to live a moral and ethical life as an individual and as a part of society. Everyone can be a model and an example which will make the Jewish people truly proud and give expression to the "name of God" within us all. This responsibility doesn't bother us. Quite the opposite. It’s a great honor. We carry this role like a royal crown and evaluate our own behavior in light of our important and noble responsibility. "Do not take God’s name in vain" reminds us of our great responsibility to fulfill our being in the image of God. And to do it by being an example to those around us and to the rest of the world.
1. “I am the Lord, Your God that took you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery”: Commit to being a caring and helpful person
This Commandment doesn’t seem to tell us anything to do. It reads like a personal introduction. It is as though God were saying to us, "Hello, I'm the one who brought you out of Egypt, where you were weak and desperate slaves." This is precisely the inspiring message of this Commandment. God's behavior in the Exodus from Egypt offers a model for our own moral and ethical behavior. Just as God recognized our suffering and rescued us from Egypt and helped us when we were weak and without rights —that is how we should treat others. The Jews' suffering as a nation should motivate us to prevent others from suffering. It should make us sensitive to people in need. It should inspire us to help and enable people to start a new and better chapter in their lives—the way we started a new chapter when we left Egypt and when we survived being attacked by different enemies throughout our history. The Jewish People's suffering and God's behavior towards us which we learn from the story of the Exodus from Egypt is a light showing us the way we should treat people.Like the core values of all the commandments, this message is relevant to the whole world. The Exodus story establishes a moral standard for humanity. It teaches that all human beings should be caring, sensitive, responsible, and take action to defend the rights of the weaker people in the world.