In parshat Yitro we read the Ten Commandments, otherwise known as the Aseret Hadibrot which begins with Vayedaber (And G‑d spoke all these words”) laimor (“to say”).1 Usually, when the Torah uses the term laimor, it means that it should be repeated to the Jewish people or to later generations. However, at the giving of the Ten Commandments, all of the Jewish people were present, and it is taught that even the souls of all later generations were there at the giving of the Torah.2 What is the meaning of the word laimor in this verse if everyone heard what G‑d had said right then and there?

The Maggid of Mezritch says that it means that we have to put the vayedaber into laimor. The word vayidaber shares the same root (DBR) the term Aseret Hadibrot (the 10 Commandments), and laimor has the same root (AMR) as the Asarah Maamarot, the 10 utterances with which the world was created.

In other words, one shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that the Torah and the world are separate domains. One shouldn’t say, "when I am doing Jewish things like praying, studying Torah, performing mitzvot, I will do as the Torah dictates. But, when I am doing worldly things, such as eating, drinking, and conducting business, I will act as the world dictates." G‑d wants us to bring our Torah way into worldly affairs. We should eat, drink and do business, but in the way that the Torah has taught us. Even when we talk, it should be apparent that Torah is our way of life.

The Midrash3 tells us that when G‑d gave us the Torah on Mount Sinai, a longstanding decree that “what is above can't come below and what is below can't go above” was abolished. Our forefathers studied Torah and did mitzvot even before the giving of the Torah. Their mitzvot, however, didn't affect the physical world and failed to imbue the physical with holiness. The two worlds, above and below, didn't mix.

All this changed with the giving of the Torah. G‑d gave us the tools to infuse the physical with holiness—the mundane and the holy could now become one.

This is clear from the Ten Commandments themselves. From all of the 613 commandments that G‑d gave us, He chose to give these ten personally to every Jewish person. One would think that He would have chosen the most spiritually sublime ideas to tell us. But, instead of remaining in the lofty realms, he began with "I Am the L‑rd your G‑d,"4 and "You shall not have any other gods before Me,"5 which are holy and sublime ideas. Then he continues with "You shall not murder"6 and "you shall not steal,"7 the most basic physical no-nos. Even if G‑d wouldn't tell us these, we would understand that they are wrong.

The fact that G‑d juxtaposes His oneness together with not murdering and not stealing shows that He wants us to fuse the physical and the spiritual. This works both ways. That which is above comes below and that which is below goes above, as will be explained.

Murder and stealing are wrong, and each of us understands that, but we shouldn't only keep them because they make sense. We must keep them because of the "I am the Lord your G‑d" that is hidden in these laws—meaning that they are G‑d's will. This should be the primary reason for keeping them. And the same is true for all the Torah laws that make sense. We should keep them because they are G‑d's will. This is drawing what is above down below.

On the other hand, those who feel they have sunk so low that they need commandments to tell them that murder and stealing are wrong (and that G‑d should have to say it with thunder and lightning, otherwise they wouldn't get it) should also contemplate on the greatness and oneness of G‑d. This is below going above.

How do we bring together the above and below, spiritual and physical? Through mitzvot. The 613 commandments that we received at Sinai came from the essence of G‑d, as we see from the first word of the Ten Commandments is Anochi (“I Am”), which refers to G‑d's essence, above all of creation, physical and spiritual. It is the part of G‑d that has no name nor description.8 Since it is above creation, it can fuse opposites, connecting above to below, and the spiritual to the physical.

This is why our mitzvot can do this, while our forefathers’ actions could not. With the giving of the Ten Commandments, our mitzvot gained the power of Anochi, G‑d's essence, which can bring opposites together.

G‑d did this because our essential purpose is to make this physical world into a dwelling place for Him. By infusing the physical world with holiness, we make it ready for Him to dwell in.

This is also hinted in the first three words of the Ten Commandments, Anochi Havaya Elokecha.

The name Elokecha is like Elokim and Elokeinu. It is, in fact, the only name of G‑d that is written in the plural.9 It is also the only name that is written in the possessive, Elokecha, your G‑d, Elokeinu, our G‑d, etc. This is because it refers to how G‑d relates to the physical world, and it fills everything in nature with the specific amount of G‑dliness that is needed to exist. It is also the only name of G‑d that people can relate to somewhat,10 that is why we say it in the possessive, Elokecha, your G‑d, Elokeinu, our G‑d. This is the name that fills the physical world.

The name Havaya surrounds the world. It is beyond any physical limitations. Havaya is hayah, hoveh and yehiyeh (past, present and future) combined in one word.11 In other words, it is beyond space and time. It is above all worldly limitations.

Elokecha, which means “your G‑d,” denotes something personal, very much within this world.

Anochi, as mentioned above, is the essence of G‑d, beyond all of existence, physical and spiritual, and therefore, can unite opposites, Havaya and Elokecha, connecting above to below.12

May we be successful in bringing the two together through our mitzvot, making this world into a dwelling place for G‑d. This is the work that will bring Moshiach. May he come soon.