There is a well-known question posed in multiple hasidic writings.
When God descended upon Mount Sinai amid overwhelming sounds and thunder and lightning, the world stood still.
Birds stopped flying, oxen did not low, and even the angels ceased to sing God’s praise.
Yet after the thunderous revelation, what did God say? “Do not murder,” “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not steal” – concepts that were already accepted in most world cultures.
Did God descend from the heavens only to tell us what every civilization already knew?
The answer given is that the importance did not lie in the words God said, but in the fact that it was God saying them.
There is a “Do not murder” that is structurally integral to society, and there is an “Honor your parents” that is an essential component of human moral values.
On the other hand, there exist the concepts of “Do not murder” and “Hon- or your parents” as part of the Ten Commandments.
This is a qualitative difference between accepted social norms and a system by means of which a person can connect with God.
Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz