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    Both names of God – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Why does the first of the Ten Commandments say, “I am the Lord your God”, using both names?

    anochiA. First an introduction. Is this a commandment at all? Rambam says it commands us to know that there is a God who redeemed us from Egypt.

    Others prefer not to call the Decalogue “commandments” but “statements” or “principles”, which echoes the Hebrew, Aseret HaDib’rot, “Ten Words”.

    HaShem (“The Lord”) as the God of mercy and Elokim (“God”) as the God of justice, both figure in Statement Number 1, which the Midrash HaGadol explains thus: “If you do My will, I am the Lord, merciful and compassionate. If not, I am God, a judge exacting justice”.

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