Shabbat comes in this week (6 February) at 4.44pm & goes out Saturday 5.49pm
Each of the commandments given at Sinai is a launching point for a much longer discussion by the rabbis. So for example, the third commandment prohibits swearing in vain. This is defined by our sages as a prohibition of (1) swearing to the truth of something that is obviously true and well known, e.g. that the sun is hot; (2) swearing in denial of an obvious truth, e.g. that the moon is made of cheese; (3) swearing to violate the Torah, e.g. that one will eat pork; (4) swearing to do something that is impossible, e.g. to stay awake for a full week.
The common denominator of these types of vain oaths is that they all “cheapen” the use of God’s name. Words have value and their misuse threatens the smooth functioning of society which sometimes must rely on the seriousness of a real oath.
Rabbi Paul Arberman