Ten Utterances: Five within Five

by tillerofthesoil

Add. 27006“[Rav Raḥmai said:] What is the reason for [the high priest] raising palms and blessing [the people] with a blessing? This is because there are ten fingers on the hands, alluding to ten sefirot by which the heavens and earth were sealed [on the fingers and their correspondence to the sefirot, see Sefer Yetsirah §3; Bahir §138; Zohar 1:20b–21a; 2:57a, 67a, 75b–77a, 208a; 3:143a (IR), 145a (Piq), 186a–b, 195b]. These ten correspond to עֶשֶׂר הַדִבְּרוֹת (eser ha-dibbrot), the Ten Utterances, and in these ten all 613 mitsvot are comprised—the number of letters in the Ten Utterances are 613 letters, comprising all twenty-two letters, except for ט (tet) which is missing from them. And what is the reason? To teach that tet is the בֶּטֶן (beten), belly, and is not [reckoned] with the sefirot” (Bahir §124).

“There are 620 letters in the Ten Utterances, corresponding to the 613 commandments given to Israel and seven commandments given to the sons of Noah [i.e., humanity]. And their mnemonic is כֶּתֶּר תּוֹרָה (keter torah), Crown of Torah [since כֶּתֶּר (keter), crown, is numerically equivalent to 620]. This teaches that if a person learns Torah for her own sake, she becomes a crown upon his head. However, if he learns Torah not for her own sake, then he will be כָּרֵת (karet), cut off [see Genesis 17:14; BT Berakhot 17a; Yoma 72bTa’anit 7a].

Ten Utterances—there are עֵקֶ״ב (eqev), in consequence [one hundred and seventy-two], words, hinted at by Eliezer [who took a gold nose ring for Rebekah,] a בֶּקַע (beqa) its weight (Genesis 24:22); and two bracelets (ibid.)—two Tablets; ten gold shekels (ibid.)—Ten Utterances. This is: עֵקֶ״ב (eqev), because, Abraham has listened to My voice (Genesis 26:5); by keeping them—great reward עֵקֶ״ב (eqev), in the end (Psalms 19:12); that I may keep עֵקֶ״ב (eqev), without fail (ibid. 119:33); ‘Make your Torah study קֶבַ״ע (qeva), fixed [i.e., a habit]’ (M Avot 1:15).

A heritage for the assembly of יַעֲקֹב (ya’aqov), Jacob (Deuteronomy 33:4)—י״ (Ten) Utterances in which there are עק״ב (one hundred and seventy-two) words” (Ba’al ha-Turim on Exodus 20:14).

“Rabbi Ami son of Abba also said: Abraham was three years old when he recognized his Creator, as is written, עֵקֶ״ב (eqev), because, Abraham has listened to My voice (Genesis 26:5), the sum of עֵקֶ״ב (eqev), because, is one hundred seventy-two” (BT Nedarim 32a).

“Rabbi Yitsḥaq said… the days of his life spanned one hundred and seventy-five. Hence: עק״ב (one hundred and seventy-two), Abraham has listened to My voice, while for three he did not listen to Him….

Come and see: When Abraham—first holy lamp of the world—longed to ascend to his rung, he was unable to until he rose to three supernal rungs above his position. Once he recognized the blessed Holy One through those three—Ancient One, Father, and Mother—from whom a light streams below, then he united with his portion, first light called First Day. All cleave to their rungs from the midst of that speculum that presides above [alt., at night], of which no human being is aware—truly! Of this we learned: ‘Abraham recognized his Creator at the age of three years’—three years, precisely!

Come and see regarding those three years: Since Shekhinah is called Bathsheba, he was unable to cleave to Her until he rose to know Her, to be illuminated, and to shine upon all thit is below—with those three supernal rungs and the other seven. Seven and three: these are the ten celestial rungs—mystery of Mother of the blessed Holy One [Binah and Tif’eret]…” (Zohar Ḥadash 26b–27a).

“In these five all is included. In these five utterances are engraved five others—surely, five within five. How so?

I am YHWH your God (Exodus 20:2), corresponding to You shall not murder (ibid., 13), for we have learned: Rabbi Yitsḥaq said in the name of Rabbi Yehudah, ‘These two comprise a single principle, since one who kills diminishes the likeness and image of his Lord, as is written: For in the image of God He made the human (Genesis 9:6), and similarly: upon the image of a throne, an image like the appearance of a human (Ezekiel 1:26).

Rabbi Ḥiyya said, ‘It is written: He who sheds the blood of a human, by a human his blood shall be shed… (Genesis 9:6). He who sheds the blood of a human—whoever sheds blood is considered as if he diminishes the likeness and image above. Namely, he has not diminished this likeness, but rather another likeness, as implied by what is written: He who sheds blood of a human, בַּאָדָם (ba-adam), in the human—this defect from the blood that he shed reaches the human. Why? For in the image of God He made the human. Therefore, one depends on the other.’

You shall have no [other gods beside Me] (Exodus 20:3), corresponding to You shall not commit adultery (ibid., 13), for he betrays the name of the blessed Holy One, engraved in a person. Many, many sins, decrees, and punishments depend on this. Whoever betrays this betrays the King, as is written: They betrayed YHWH because they bore alien children (Hosea 5:7), and similarly: You shall not bow down to them and you shall not worship them (Exodus 20:5). One depends on the other.

You shall not take [the name of YHWH your God in vain] (ibid., 7), corresponding to You shall not steal (ibid., 13), and it is written: A thief’s accomplice hates himself; he hears the adjuration and does not testify (Proverbs 29:24). Surely, one depends on the other, for the thief is destined to swear falsely; whoever does this, does that.

Remember the Sabbath day (Exodus 20:8), corresponding to You shall not bear false witness against your fellow (ibid., 13), for Rabbi Yose said, ‘Sabbath is called testimony, and one must testify, as is written: For six days YHWH made [heaven and earth… and He rested on the seventh day] (ibid., 11), and Sabbath is totality of all.’ And Rabbi Yose said, ‘What is the meaning of the verse You will give truth to Jacob (Micah 7:20)? As is said: The children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath (Exodus 31:16). Whoever bears false witness is false to the Sabbath, which is testimony to the truth; and whoever betrays the Sabbath betrays the whole Torah.’ Consequently, one depends on the other.

Honor your father (Exodus 20:12), corresponding to You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife (ibid., 14). Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘Honor your father—your father, precisely, for look, one who covets a woman and engenders a child, that child will honor another who is not his father!’

It is written: Honor your father… (Exodus 20:12); you shall not covet your neighbor’s house or field (ibid., 14). And here is written on the land that YHWH your God is giving you (ibid., 12)—what He is giving you will be yours, and you shall not covet something else. Surely, one depends on the other.

These first five include the five others. Consequently, From His right hand, a fiery law for them (Deuteronomy 33:2), for all became right. Therefore, Torah was transmitted in five voices….

Rabbi El’azar taught, ‘In these ten utterances were engraved all the commandments of Torah, decrees and punishments, pure and impure, branches and roots, trees and plants, heaven and earth, ocean and depths. For Torah is the name of the blessed Holy One’” (Zohar 2:90a–b).