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Daily Aliya for Yitro, Shishi (6th Aliya)

Aliya Summary: G‑d descended upon the mountain, and summoned Moshe to its summit. G‑d instructed Moshe to again warn the Israelites about the tragic end that awaited anyone who approaches the mountain itself. Only Moshe and his brother Aaron were allowed on the mountain during this time. G‑d then spoke the Ten Commandments to the Israelite nation. They are: 1) Belief in G‑d. 2) Not to worship idols. 3) Not to take G‑d’s name in vain. 4) To keep the Shabbat. 5) To honor parents. 6) Not to murder, 7) commit adultery, 8) steal, 9) bear false witness or 10) covet another’s property.

The third commandment prohibits swearing in vain. This is defined as (1) swearing to the truth of something that is obviously true and well-known – (i.e. that the sun is hot); (2) to swear in denial of an obvious truth – (i.e. that the Moon is made of cheese); (3) to swear to violate the Torah – (i.e. that one will eat pork). Such an oath is immediately void since we are considered to have taken a prior oath (at Sinai) to not eat pork. Hence, the oath is in vain and a disrespectful and potentially harmful use of G-d’s name; (4) to swear to do something that is impossible – (i.e. to stay awake for a full week). The common denominator of these types of oaths is that they all “cheapen” the use of G-d’s name and threaten the smooth functioning of society which often must rely on the seriousness of a real oath.