According to Jewish tradition, there are 613 commandments or mitzvoth in the Torah (the first five books of the Bible).  In the 12th Century, the famous rabbi Maimonides made a list of them, observing that they fall into two categories: positive commandments and negative ones.  Positive rabbicommandments concern things we are commanded to do.  Negative ones concern the things we are not to do.

Of the 613 commandments, 365 are positive commandments, a number that corresponds to days of the solar year.   The remaining 248 are negative commandments, which according to Jewish tradition, corresponds to the number of bones and main organs in the human body.

skeletonThere are 206 bones in the body.  Just how many of our organs could be considered “main” ones is open to interpretation.  Needless to say, the rabbis weren’t surgeons.  The point they were trying to make with these correspondences is that the purpose of the commandments was to maintain harmony between heaven and earth.  The larger point being made is that the commandments were never meant to restrict human life.  The opposite is true.  Even the restrictions were meant to create fullness of life.

In modern times, there are only 171 of the original 613 commandments that can actually be observed, 26 of which can only be followed in the land of Israel.  So for those of us who live outside Israel, there are only 145 commandments to follow.  Lucky us!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This