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    The most powerful commandment

    We all have our own ideas about which one of the Ten Commandments is the most serious.

    A good case can be made for the proposition that “You shall not kill” is the most significant one because life is the supreme Divine gift and taking a life is the worst possible offence.

    Indeed it might be said that if you commit murder, the victim is not just a human being but God Himself in whose image every human is made. Murdering a person affects God Himself.

    Without affecting the validity of this interpretation there is a view in the Pesikta Rabbati that “You shall not covet” is the most serious of the rules. Once you give way to coveting, nothing and nobody is safe.

    According to Abravanel, the sequence of the last five commandments is this: do not injure your fellow man by action (murder, adultery of theft), by word (speaking lies and falsehood) and thought (coveting).

    What the Torah does in the Ten Commandments is to cover both the way we act and our motivation, the reason why we act in that way.

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