Torah Portion: Yisro
Do not take the Name of Hashem your God in vain (Shemos 20:7).
It is a negative commandment that we should not swear in vain, as it says, Do not take the Name of Hashem your God in vain (Shemos 20:7).
[An oath can be] in vain in one of four ways: (a) if someone swears about something known, that it is not so — for example, about a marble pillar, that it is of gold; (b) if one swears about something known, that it is so — for instance, about stone that it is stone, or about wood that it is wood; (c) if someone swears to violate any mitzvah, for it is not in his power to take a [binding] oath about something to which God already bound and obligated him; and (d) if someone swears to do something that he does not have the power or strength to do — for instance, that he will not sleep for three days in a row or that he will not eat seven days in a row.
Among the roots of this commandment is [the aim] that human beings should know and affirm in their minds, and strengthen the faith in their hearts, that the existence of God, blessed is He, Who is in heaven above and endures forever, is not [at all] like our [fleeting] existence. It is thus fitting and required of us, when we mention His great Name in connection with our actions and our words, that we should mention it in awe and fear, with quivering and trembling; not like mockers or those who speak about trivial matters that exist [fleetingly] and then vanish, not enduring in their original state — such as us human beings and other entities in this lowly world. Therefore, in order to set this matter firmly in our hearts and to have His awe before us, to give us life and merit, we were charged with this commandment, so that we not mention His holy Name in vain.
This commandment applies in all places and at all times to both men and women.