At the end of this week's Parshah, following the Ten Commandments, we find a curious command — that the Cohanim (priests), when ascending to the Altar, should not climb up actual stairs, but instead should use a ramp, since climbing actual stairs might cause their garments to lift up as they raise each leg, leading to immodesty.

The commentator Rashi explains that even though the actual act is not an intentional lewd one, and the stones themselves which form the stairs are not "embarrassed" by this act, nevertheless the Torah cautions against it. If this is so for inanimate stones, how much more so when it comes to another person. The Torah is teaching us not to embarrass or shame another human being. Even if the act itself is not intended to embarrass, and even if the other person is unaware or does not care (like the stones) — nonetheless we must avoid such situations.

This concept underlies the Ten Commandments (or "Ten Utterances" to give the more literal translation) themselves. The first two, concerning Love and Fear of G‑d are, of course, important. Nonetheless, amongst these ten key principles we find that no less than half of them deal with actions between ourselves and our fellow beings.

I once saw the question, "Which is more important, Torah observance or ethical behavior?" The question is well-meant but it is a non-question! Behaving ethically and morally, as the Torah dictates, is as much a part of "Torah observance" as observing Shabbat or a Kosher diet. In some ways it is even more important, as it affects not only our relationship with G‑d but our relationship with other people as well.