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What are the 613 Mitzvahs?

by Rabbi Mendy Hecht

  

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The Talmud tells us (Tractate Makkot 23b) that there are 613 commandments in the Torah; 248 Positive Commandments ("do's") and 365 Negative Commandments ("do not's"). However, the Talmud does not provide us with a list of these commandments.

Several great Jewish scholars have compiled a complete listing of these commandments. Although they all agree on the vast majority of the commandments, they do disagree concerning a number of them. The arguments are for scholastic purposes only, for they do not disagree over any actual commandment whether it is mandatory or forbidden -- they only disagree whether certain commandments are independent commandments, or perhaps they are part of another commandment and are not counted on their own.1

(In addition to the Torah's 613 Mitzvahs there are also seven uniquely Rabbinic Mitzvahs).

The following list follows the opinion of Maimonides, as he lists them in his magnum opus, the Mishneh Torah. It must be noted that many of these commandments (such as all the commandments associated with sacrifices) are not practicable as long as there is no Temple in Jerusalem.

Click here to check up the Biblical source for any of the commandments.

1. To know there is a G-d--Exodus 20:2

2. Not to entertain thoughts of other gods besides Him--Exodus 20:3

3. To know that He is one--Deuteronomy 6:4

4. To love Him--Deuteronomy 6:5

5. To fear Him--Deuteronomy 10:20

6. To sanctify His Name--Leviticus 22:32

7. Not to profane His Name--Leviticus 22:32

8. Not to destroy objects associated with His Name--Deuteronomy 12:4

9. To listen to the prophet speaking in His Name--Deuteronomy 18:15

10. Not to test the prophet unduly--Deuteronomy 6:16

11. To emulate His ways--Deuteronomy 28:9

12. To cleave to those who know Him--Deuteronomy 10:20

13. To love other Jews--Leviticus 19:18

14. To love converts--Deuteronomy 10:19

15. Not to hate fellow Jews--Leviticus 19:17

16. To reprove wrongdoers--Leviticus 19:17

17. Not to embarrass others--Leviticus 19:17

18. Not to oppress the weak--Exodus 22:21

19. Not to gossip about others--Leviticus 19:16

20. Not to take revenge--Leviticus 19:18

21. Not to bear a grudge--Leviticus 19:18

22. To learn Torah and teach it--Deuteronomy 6:7

23. To honor those who teach and know Torah--Leviticus 19:32

24. Not to inquire into idolatry--Leviticus 19:4

25. Not to follow the whims of your heart or what your eyes see--Numbers 15:39

26. Not to blaspheme--Exodus 22:27

27. Not to worship idols in the manner they are worshiped--Exodus 20:5

28. Not to bow down to idols--Exodus 20:5

29. Not to make an idol for yourself--Exodus 20:4

30. Not to make an idol for others--Leviticus 19:4

31. Not to make human forms even for decorative purposes--Exodus 20:20

32. Not to turn a city to idolatry--Exodus 23:13

33. To burn a city that has turned to idol worship--Deuteronomy 13:17

34. Not to rebuild it as a city--Deuteronomy 13:17

35. Not to derive benefit from it--Deuteronomy 13:18

36. Not to missionize an individual to idol worship--Deuteronomy 13:12

37. Not to love the missionary--Deuteronomy 13:9

38. Not to cease hating the missionary--Deuteronomy 13:9

39. Not to save the missionary--Deuteronomy 13:9

40. Not to say anything in his defense--Deuteronomy 13:9

41. Not to refrain from incriminating him--Deuteronomy 13:9

42. Not to prophesize in the name of idolatry--Deuteronomy 18:20

43. Not to listen to a false prophet--Deuteronomy 13:4

44. Not to prophesize falsely in the name of God--Deuteronomy 18:20

45. Not to be afraid of killing the false prophet--Deuteronomy 18:22

46. Not to swear in the name of an idol--Exodus 23:13

47. Not to perform Ov (medium)--Leviticus 19:31

48. Not to perform Yidoni (magical seer)--Leviticus 19:31

49. Not to pass your children through the fire to Molech--Leviticus 18:21

50. Not to erect a column in a public place of worship--Deuteronomy 16:22

51. Not to bow down on smooth stone--Leviticus 26:1

52. Not to plant a tree in the Temple courtyard--Deuteronomy 16:21

53. To destroy idols and their accessories--Deuteronomy 12:2

54. Not to derive benefit from idols and their accessories--Deuteronomy 7:26

55. Not to derive benefit from ornaments of idols--Deuteronomy 7:25

56. Not to make a covenant with idolaters--Deuteronomy 7:2

57. Not to show favor to them--Deuteronomy 7:2

58. Not to let them dwell in our land--Exodus 23:33

59. Not to imitate them in customs and clothing--Leviticus 20:23

60. Not to be superstitious--Leviticus 19:26

61. Not to go into a trance to foresee events, etc.--Deuteronomy 18:10

62. Not to engage in astrology--Leviticus 19:26

63. Not to mutter incantations--Deuteronomy 18:11

64. Not to attempt to engage the dead in conversation--Deuteronomy 18:11

65. Not to consult the Ov--Deuteronomy 18:11

66. Not to consult the Yidoni--Deuteronomy 18:11

67. Not to perform acts of magic--Deuteronomy 18:10

68. Men must not shave the hair off the sides of their head--Leviticus 19:27

69. Men must not shave their beards with a razor--Leviticus 19:27

70. Men must not wear women's clothing--Deuteronomy 22:5

71. Women must not wear men's clothing--Deuteronomy 22:5

72. Not to tattoo the skin--Leviticus 19:28

73. Not to tear the skin in mourning--Deuteronomy 14:1

74. Not to make a bald spot in mourning--Deuteronomy 14:1

75. To repent and confess wrongdoings--Numbers 5:7

76. To say the Shema twice daily--Deuteronomy 6:7

77. To serve the Almighty with prayer daily--Exodus 23:25

78. The Kohanim must bless the Jewish nation daily--Numbers 6:23

79. To wear Tefillin on the head--Deuteronomy 6:8

80. To bind tefillin on the arm--Deuteronomy 6:8

81. To put a Mezuzah on each door post--Deuteronomy 6:9

Footnotes

  • 1. A Mitzvah may have many sub-Mitzvahs, as well as Rabbinic ordinances protecting the Mitzvah.

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COMMENTS

kavod

Posted by: Anonymous on Feb 07, 2005

thank you for the 613 commandments- i had yet 2 c them all on one page in one language (you may say i visit the wrong bookshops but oxford is no jewish hotspot!!) Hazak ou baruch to you for typing them up - surely that shld b added as mitzvah 614???

all the best, avishag

knowing the rules

Posted by: Rebecca Maccarone, Greenville, MS on May 08, 2006

I am a convert and this article is really helping me to know all the rules that there are...Thank you so much this really helped.

Mitzvot

Posted by: Solie, Encino, CA on May 30, 2006

This is great to have all the mitzvot in one place. It is a good and fast reference.
Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Shabbat
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Chametz
Any leavened product which is produced from wheat, barley, rye, spelt or oats. This includes bread, cake, cereals, crackers, biscuits, yeast, pasta and whisky. It is forbidden for a Jew to possess or consume Chametz throughout Passover.
Matzah
(pl. Matzot). Unleavened bread which is eaten on Passover, especially at the Passover Seder (feast), commemorating the Matzah which the Jews ate upon leaving Egypt. It consists of only flour and water and resembles a wheat cracker.
Talmud
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Passover
A Biblically mandated early-spring festival celebrating the Jewish exodus from Egypt in the year 1312 BCE.
Levite
A descendant of Levi, son of Jacob. The Levites were the teachers and spiritual leaders in the Land of Israel. They had various responsibilities in the Holy Temple, including choir and orchestral duties.
Rosh Hashanah
The Jewish New Year. An early autumn two day holiday marking the creation of Adam and Eve. On this day we hear the blasts of the ram's horn and accept G-d's sovereignty upon ourselves and the world. On Rosh Hashanah we pray that G-d should grant us all a sweet New Year.
Sukkot
A seven day autumn festival commemorating the miracle of the Heavenly Clouds which enveloped the Jews while traveling in the desert for forty years. On this holiday we dwell in makeshift booths and shake the Four Species.
Tishrei
The seventh month of the Jewish calendar. This month, which arrives in early autumn, has more holidays than any other month: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah.
Tefillin
Black leather boxes containing small scrolls with passages of the Bible written on them. Every day, aside for Sabbath and Jewish holidays, the adult Jewish male is required to wrap the Tefillin--by means of black leather straps--around the weaker arm and atop the forehead.
Maimonides
Moses son of Maimon, born in Spain in 1135, died in Egypt in 1204. Noted philosopher and authority on Jewish law. Also was an accomplished physician and was the personal doctor for members of the Egyptian royalty. Interred in Tiberius, Israel.
Yom Kippur
Day of Atonement. This late-autumn high-holiday is the holiest day of the year. We devote this day to repentance and all healthy adults are required to fast.
Sukkah
The temporary structure in which we are required to dwell for the duration of the holiday of Sukkot. The Sukkah must have at least three walls and its roof consists of unsecured branches, twigs or wooden slats.
Kosher
Literally means "fit." Commonly used to describe foods which are permitted by Jewish dietary laws, but is also used to describe religious articles (such as a Torah scroll or Sukkah) which meet the requirements of Jewish law.
Kohanim
Plural form of Kohain. Priests of G-d. This title belongs to the male descendants of Aaron, brother of Moses. The primary function of the Kohain was to serve in the Holy Temple. Today the Kohain is still revered and it is his function to recite the Priestly Blessings on certain occasions.
Mikvah
A ritual bath where one immerses to become spiritually pure. After her menstrual cycle, a woman must immerse in the Mikvah before resuming marital relations.
Mezuzah
A rolled up scroll containing certain verses from the Torah which is affixed to the right-hand doorpost of doorways in a Jewish home.
Shofar
The horn of a Kosher animal. The Shofar is sounded on the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, and is intended to awaken us to repentance. Also blown to signify the conclusion of the Yom Kippur holiday.
Shatnez
A garment which contains both wool and linen. A Jewish person is forbidden to don a Shatnez garment.
Etrog
A citron; a greenish-yellow citrus fruit. We are required to take an Etrog on the holiday of Sukkot and shake it together with a palm branch, a myrtle and a willow.
Kiddush
Prayer recited at the beginning of the Sabbath or Holiday meal--both the evening and afternoon meals. This prayer, acknowledging the sanctity of the day, is recited over a cup of wine or grape juice.
Amalek
Anti-Semitic tribe descendant from Esau; first to attack the Jews upon leaving Egypt. We are commanded to remember their vile deed and obliterate all memory of them.
Sanhedrin
The Jewish Supreme Court. The court would convene in a designated chamber in the Holy Temple, and was comprised of 71 of the greatest scholars of the time. Continued after the destruction of the Temples, but was dissolved in the 5th century when due to Roman persecution the seat of Torah scholarship relocated from Israel to Babylon.
Nissan
The first month of the Jewish calendar. This month, which falls out in early spring, is known for the holiday of Passover which starts on the 15th of Nissan.
Rosh Chodesh
The "Head of the Month," Rosh Chodesh is observed the first day of every Jewish month. If the previous month had 30 days, then the last day of the previous month is also observed; hence a two-day Rosh Chodesh. Rosh Chodesh is a semi-holiday, marked by Torah-reading and special prayers.
Shavuot
Early summer festival marking the day when the Jews received the Torah at Mount Sinai in the year 2448 (1312 BCE).
Shmini Atzeret
A joyous one-day autumn festival immediately following the holiday of Sukkot. Outside Israel this holiday is celebrated for two days, the second day is known as Simchat Torah.
Omer
Starting from the second day of Passover, we count forty-nine days. The fiftieth day is the holiday of Shavuot. This is called the “Counting of the Omer” because on the second day of Passover the barley “Omer” offering was offered in the Holy Temple, and we count forty-nine days from this offering. [Literally, "Omer" is a certain weight measure; the required amount of barley for this sacrifice.]
Iyar
The second month on the Jewish calendar, normally corresponding to April-May. The 18th of this month is the holiday of Lag b'Omer.
Lulav
A palm branch. One of the Four Species we are required to take on the holiday of Sukkot. We shake it together with a citron, myrtle, and willow.
Menorah
Candelabra. Usually a reference to the nine-branched candelabra kindled on the holiday of Chanukah.
Genesis
The first book of the Five Books of Moses. It records the story of Creation and its aftermath, and chronicles the lives of the Patriarchs.
Jerusalem
Established by King David to be the eternal capital of Israel. Both Temples were built there, and the third Temple will be situated there when the Messiah comes.
Torah Portion
The Five Books of Moses are divided into 54 portions. Every Sabbath morning we read one portion. Several weeks during the year a double portion is read, in order to accommodate the Torah's completion on the Simchat Torah holiday.
Red Heifer
A cow that was completely red. This cow was burned together with several ingredients, and its ash, mixed with water, was sprayed upon certain impure people in order to purify them.
Tzitzit
Literally: the fringes which are attached to four cornered garments, as Biblically mandated. Normally this word refers to a t-shirt sized four cornered garment which contains such fringes, and is usually worn beneath the shirt.
Sotah
A woman suspected of adultery, with probable cause. She is taken to the Holy Temple and given a potion which causes her death if she is guilty of the sin.
shekel
(pl. Shekalim) Currency used in ancient Israel. [Modern Israeli currency also carries the same name.]
Exodus
1. The miraculous departure of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage in 1312 BCE. 2. The second of the Five Books of Moses. This book describes the aforementioned Exodus, the giving of the Torah, and the erection of the Tabernacle.
Leviticus
The third of the Five Books of Moses. This book deals with the service (of the Levite Tribe) in the Tabernacle, and contains many of the 613 commandments.
Deuteronomy
The fifth of the Five Books of Moses. This book is a record of the monologue which Moses spoke to the Israelites in the five weeks prior to his passing.
Maror
Bitter herbs consumed at the Passover Seder, commemorating how the Egyptians embittered the lives of our ancestors.
Havdalah
Prayer signifying the end of the Sabbath or Jewish holiday. This "separation" prayer is recited after nightfall over a cup of wine.
Mamzer
A child who is the product of incest or adultery (i.e. a married woman with a man other than her husband). A mamzer may only marry another mamzer.
Temple
1. Usually a reference to the Holy Temple which was/will be situated in Jerusalem. 1st Temple was built in 825 BCE and was destroyed in 423 BCE. The 2nd Temple was built in 350 BCE and was destroyed in 70 CE. The 3rd Temple will be built by the Messiah. 2. A synagogue.
Levi
1. Name of Patriarch Jacob's third son. 2. A Levite -- a Jew who is a patrilineal descendant of Levi. Levites had special duties in the Holy Temple, and are still accorded special respect.
Shema
The most fundamental Jewish prayer, recited twice daily. This prayer, of Biblical origin, professes the belief in G-d's absolute unity.
Terumah
The tithe given to the priest (descendant of Aaron) from certain crops. The tithe was approximately 2% of the harvest.
Yibum
"Levirate marriage." The Biblical commandment which obligates a man to marry his deseased childless brother's widow.
Chalitzah
The ceremony which exempts a man from "Levirate marriage" -- the Biblical obligation to marry his deseased childless brother's widow.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.