Rabbi Jacobs discusses the significance of the Ten Commandments in Jewish thought. He questions the assumption that they sit at the heart of revelation. How do we understand the two versions of the Ten Commandments? Rabbinic tradition presents a range of views. Equally, there are different ways of understanding them today.
Historically, the role of the Ten Commandments played a greater or lesser role in Jewish life, depending upon external circumstances.
Rabbi Jacobs discusses the relation of the Ten Commandments to the other biblical injunctions, which traditionally number 613 and their role as symbols of Jewish loyalty. The Ten Commandments both need to be amplified, and to understood in their simplicity. Despite changing social mores we continue to believe in the Ten Commandments as the best guide for society.