As we meditate on Torah Parashah Yitro about the giving of the Torah and the 10 Commandments, there are many new to Torah observance who worry with misunderstanding that it is impossible to keep the Torah with its many commandments and ordinances, but in fact one should not worry or be so concerned as there are many Mitzvot we cannot do in today’s generation. For example, there are no Korbonot burnt offerings, no slaves, no temple, etc. Also, certain Mitzvot only apply if a sin was committed first, such as repaying a theft and general repentance. Furthermore, there are many negative Mitzvot that only apply if one has fulfilled a positive Mitzvah that cannot be fulfilled today, but if one attempted to fulfill the positive they might be “on the hook” for the negative as well. Or not. Eg., burning leftover Korban Pesach…
In Torah there are 613 mitzvot commandments… but without a temple and priesthood many of these commandments cannot be kept at this time, and yet, as you will see below, there are many mitvot commandments that one can still observe as all should seek to align their lives to live out Hashem’s instructions to the best of their ability. (For a complete list of the 613 commandments by weekly parashah click here)
The Chinuch, in his introductory letter, breaks it down like this (apparently differently than the Chofetz Chaim):
- There are 613 Mizvot, 248 Positive and 365 (The Chinuch bases his sefer on the Rambam’s enumeration of the Mitzvot.)
- The Total amount of Mitzvot that a person can do these days is 369, however 99 of them (78 Positive and 21 Negative), while still applicable, will not necessarily ever be done, since one may go through their whole life without encountering a situation where that Mitzvah applies. (e.g. paying a day laborer on that day, if someone never hires a worker, he will never have an opportunity to fulfill this Mitzvah)
- This leaves 270Mitzvot (48 Positive and 222 Negative) The one will always do, without having to look for situations in which a Mitzvah would apply. The mnemonic for this is “אני ישנה ולבי ע״ר“ [I’m asleep but my heart is awake – in other places it explains that this refers to exile, that even while in a state of sleep (i.e. exile) we still do (at least) 270 Mitzvot]
- However, these Mitzvot are not applicable all the time (e.g. Matzot are only a Mitvah to eat on Pesach). There are 6Mitzvot that are applicable all the time.
Per the Chofetz Chaim, there are 77 positive Mitzvot and 194 negative Mitzvot which can be observed outside of Eretz Yisroel today for a total of 271. (His list adds an additional 37 Mitzvot that are dependent on the land (In addition to the 271 Mitzvot that are applicable outside the land).
77 Positve Commandments which can be Observeed Today outside of the Land:
Based on the Rambam and the Chofetz Chaim and Compiled by Rabbi Yonah Bookstein
This is a summary of the Positive Mitzvot (observable outside the land)1, also known as positive commandments. The Torah’s Mitzvot have many components. If there is a mitzvah you do not see, it is probably included as a component of a more general mitzvah, or one of the negative Mitzvot. They have been arranged according to where they appear in Rambam’s Mishna Torah.
Sefer Ha Mada: Foundations of Faith
To believe that there is a G-d in existence
To know the unity of Hashem, to believe with complete faith that Hashem is one
To love Hashem with all one’s heart, spirit and might
To fear Hashem
To sanctify Hashem publicly
To walk in the ways of Hashem with all of one’s ability
To be attached to torah scholars and their disciples
To learn Torah and teach it
To rise up before an older person, and a torah scholar
To turn away from sin and confess one’s sins before Hashem
To bear affection for everyone in Jewry as for oneself
To bear affection for a convert, stranger, proselyte
To rebuke the sinner
Sefer Ahava: Love and Remember Hashem
To pray every day to Hashem
To bind tefillin on one’s hand˚
To bind tefillin on one’s head˚
To make tzitzith at the corners of your garments
To recite the shema morning and evening
To affix a mezuzah at the entrance of the home
To say the grace after meals, after eating bread˚
That every Jew should write a torah scroll˚
To circumcise every boy on the eighth day after birth
That the kohanim are to bless the Jewish people
Sefer Zmanim: Sacred Moments and Festivals
To declare Shabbos Holy, with words
To rest from work on the Shabbos
To be joyous on the Festivals
To clear away chometz on the 14th of Nissan
To eat matzoth on the first night of Pesach
To tell about the Exodus from Egypt on night of the 15th of Nissan
To rest from work on the first day of Pesach
To count seven whole weeks from the second day of Pesach˚
To rest from work on the seventh day of Pesach
To rest from work on the festival of Shavuos
To rest from work on Rosh Hashanah
To hear the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah˚
To rest from work on Yom Kippur
To fast on Yom Kippur
To rest from work on the first day of Sukkos
To dwell in the sukkah all seven days of the Festival˚
To take up the lulav and esrog on Sukkos˚
To rest from work on Shmini Atzeres
Sefer Nashim: Family and Sexual Relations
To marry in order to be fruitful and multiply
To marry with kiddushin
To marry the wife on ones brother who has died without children (a yevamah)
That a yevomah (childless widow) should remove the shoe of the yavam (husband’s brother) if he does not want to marry her
Sefer Kedusha: Purity of Food and Sexual Relations
To ritually slaughter a domestic or untamed animal, or fowl, to prepare it for eating
To cover the blood of the ritually slaughtered pure untamed animals or fowl
To send the mother away from the nest when taking the eggs
Sefer Haflaah: Vows and Oaths
To fulfill the words that come from one’s lips
To judge about inheritance of land
To judge cases of nullifying vows and oaths
Sefer Zeraim: Produce, Wealth and the Land
That whoever slaughters a pure animal is to give the foreleg, cheeks, and maw to the kohen
To give the kohen the first wool
That a Jew is to redeem a son who is first born to his Jewish mother
To consecrate firstborn males
To redeem a first born male donkey or lamb
To break the neck of a first born donkey or lamb if it is not redeemed
To separate challah from bread and give it to a kohen
To give charity to poor Jews
To release a loan in the year of shmittah
Sefer Avoda: Temple and Offerings
To have a reverent fear of the Sanctuary
To accord honor to a kohen
Sefer Nezikin: Injury to Person and Property
To return whatever one has stolen
To return a lost item to a fellow Jew
To unload the burden of another person’s animal
To help another person load their animal
To make a fence around a roof, and remove other hazards from one’s house
Sefer Kinyan: Commerce and Chattels
To judge on matters of buying and selling
Sefer Mishpatim: Compensation and Transfer of property
To lend money to poor Jews
To give a pledge object back to its owner if he needs it
That an owner should allow a field-hand to eat from the work of his hands
To give wages on the same day that a person works
Sefer Shofetim: Judges and Judgment
To respect ones father and mother
That a kohen is to defile himself for a close kin in attending their burial
To have reverence for one’s father and mother
To remember what Amalek did to us
To destroy the descendants of Amalek
˚ Applies to men but not to women.
1 Outside of the Land of Israel.
194 Negative Mitzvoth we can Observe today Outside the land of Israel:
Below are the listed “negative” commandments also referred to as prohibitions (i.e. “you shall not…”), that according to the Chofetz Chaim’s list there are 194 Negative mitzvot from the Torah which are universal (incumbent both in Eretz Israel and out) that we should be observing even in the exile outside the land of Israel. I have listed them below for your perusal and contemplation: (from the Chofetz Chayim’s “The concise Book of Mitzvoth”)
1. Do not eat the sinew of the thigh-vein
2. Do not see chametz (leven) in the domain or possession of a Jew, for the entire seven days of Pesach.
3. Do not find chametz in a Jews possession on Pesach
4. Do not eat chametz on Pesach.
5. Do not eat chametz in a mixture
6. Do not do any work on Shabbos.
7. Do not go out beyond the t’chum on Shabbos.
8. Do not contemplate that there is any other G-d.
9. Do not make an idol to worship.
10. Do not make an idol for gentiles to worship.
11. Do not bow down to an idol.
12. Do not imitate idol worship.
13. Do not make an oath in the name of an idol.
14. Do not lead a town in Israel astray to idol worship.
15. Do not eat or drink from idolatrous offerings.
16. Do not be attentive to idolatry or idolaters.
17. Do not benefit from idol adornments.
18. Do not benefit from idols and their attendants.
19. Do not marry a non-Jew.
20. Do not have mercy on idolaters.
21. Do not emulate the fashion of gentiles.
22. Do not listen to idolatrous prophets.
23. Do not lure a Jew to idolatry
24. Do not bear affection for one who lures Jews to idolatry.
25. Do not relinquish hatred for recruiters to idolatry.
26. Do not rescue recruiters to idolatry.
27. Do not prophesize in the name of idolatry.
28. Do not gash or cut one’s flesh in grief or idolatry.
29. Do not swear in vain.
30. Do not swear falsely in monetary disputes.
31. Do not swear a false oath of expression of intent.
32. Do not kill a human being.
33. Do not kidnap another Jew.
34. Do not steal any object or money.
35. Do not rob a person forcefully.
36. Do not falsely deny anything owed.
37. Do not wrongfully retain another’s possessions.
38. Do not delay payment of wages.
39. Do not give false testimony.
40. Do not covet what is not yours, to acquire it.
41. Do not desire what is not yours.
42. Do not withhold sh’er, k’suth, or onah from ones wife.ii
43. Do not strike another Jew.
44. Do not strike your mother or father.
45. Do not curse another Jew.
46. Do not curse your mother or father.
47. Do not cheat in buying and selling.
48. Do not verbally abuse (recalling another’s sins.)
49. Do not verbally abuse a righteous-convert.
50. Do not cheat a righteous-convert.
51. Do not cause suffering to the widow or orphan.
52. Do not demand repayment if they cannot repay.
53. Do not be a party to interest bearing transactions.
54. Do not lend to a Jew with any type of interest.
55. Do not borrow at interest from a Jew.
56. Do not refrain from lending money to Jew. iii
57. Do not demand repayment of a loan after shmitah.
58. Do not take in pledge something needed for cooking.
59. Do not take in pledge by force from a debtor.
60. Do not take in pledge a garment from a widow.
61. Do not withhold a pledge when the owner needs it.
62. Do not harden your heart or shut your hand to another Jew.
63. Do not curse a judge.
64. Do not appoint an unsuitable judge.
65. Do not accept nor relate slander or one-sided testimony.
66. Do not pity a poor man in trial.
67. Do not, as Judge, be influenced by the sinful acts of the accused.
68. Do not, as Judge, subvert justice for a convert or orphan.
69. Do not, as Judge, commit injustice in judgement.
70. Do not, as Judge, favor the eminent in judgement.
71. Do not, as Judge, accept a bribe.
72. Do not, as Judge, fear the litigants.
73. Do not establish fact on the basis of one witness.
74. Do not accept a relative’s testimony in court.
75. Do not accept a sinner’s testimony in court.
76. Do not cause another to stumble or err.
77. Do not relate to another what his accusers say.
78. Do not hate another Jew in your heart.
79. Do not shame anyone.
80. Do not take revenge.
81. Do not bear a grudge.
82. Do not keep from rescuing another from danger.
83. Do not cheat with measures or weights.
84. Do not own faulty weights or measures.
85. Do not breach your neighbor’s boundaries.
86. Do not eat neveila.iv
87. Do not eat treifah.v
88. Do not eat forbidden fat.
89. Do not eat any blood.
90. Do not eat a limb from a living animal.
91. Do not cook meat in milk.
92. Do not eat meat that was cooked in milk.
93. Do not eat meat or milk from non-kosher domestic or wild animals.vi
94. Do not eat non-kosher fowl.vii
95. Do not eat non-kosher fish.viii
96. Do not eat winged insects.
97. Do not eat crawling insects.
98. Do not eat fruit or vegetable worms.
99. Do not eat seafood and aquatic reptiles.
100. Do not eat romes, a crawling thing.
101. Do not eat bread from the new grain before the omer.ix
102. Do not eat roasted new grain before the omer.
103. Do not eat crushed new grain before the omer.
104. Do not eat chametz in the afternoon before Pesach.
105. Do not eat orlah fruit.x
106. Do not eat food of a wayward son.xi
107. Do not plant two types of seed together.
108. Do not shecht an animal and its offspring on the same day.
109. Do not redeem firstling of a kosher animal.
110. Do not approach intimacy with forbidden relations.
111. Do not uncover your father’s nakedness.
112. Do not be intimate with your mother.
113. Do not be intimate with your father’s wife.
114. Do not be intimate with your brother.
115. Do not be intimate with your daughter in-law.
116. Do not be intimate with a man.
117. Do not, as a man, be intimate with an animal.
118. Do not, as a woman, be intimate with an animal.
119. Do not be intimate with grandchildren.
120. Do not be intimate with one’s daughter.
121. Do not be intimate with a woman and her daughter.
122. Do not be intimate with a woman and her son’s daughter.
123. Do not be intimate with a woman and her daughter’s daughter.
124. Do not be intimate with a married woman.
125. Do not be intimate with your father’s sister-in-law.
126. Do not ever be intimate with a sibling’s spouse.
127. Do not be intimate with a sibling, or half-sibling.
128. Do not be intimate with your step-mother’s daughter.
129. Do not be intimate with your father’s sister.
130. Do not be intimate with your mother’s sister.
131. Do not be intimate with your wife’s sister in your wife’s lifetime.
132. Do not be intimate with a nida.
133. Do not be intimate with a harlot, without kiddushin.
134. Do not remarry one’s divorced wife if she remarried another man.
135. Do not, as a childless widow, marry an outsider.xii
136. Do not marry a man who’s privates were severed or crushed
137. Do not marry a mamzer.xiii
138. Do not marry a Kohen to a zona.xiv’
139. Do not marry a Kohen to a profaned woman.xv
140. Do not marry a Kohen to a divorced woman.
141. Do not, as a Kohen, become ritually impure through human remains.
142. Do not mate one species of animal with another.
143. Do not sterilize a man or male animal.
144. Do not make graven human images, even for ornamentation.
145. Do not replicate the Oil of Anointing.
146. Do not replicate the Incense of the Sanctuary.
147. Do not work on the first day of Pesach.xvi
148. Do not work on the seventh day of Pesach.
149. Do not work on the Festival of Shavuous.
150. Do not work on Rosh Hashanah.
151. Do not work on Yom Kippur.
152. Do not eat or drink on Yom Kippur.
153. Do not work on the first day of Sukkos.
154. Do not work on Shmini Atzeres.
155. Do not do anything leading to a desecration of hashem’s name.
156. Do not follow your heart to heresy or your eyes to immorality.
157. Do not destroy the Holy or erase Hashem’s Name.
158. Do not deviate from the rabbinical decrees.
159. Do not add to the mitzvos of the Torah.
160. Do not detract from the mitzvos of the Torah.
161. Do not make a paving stone for genuflection.
162. Do not erect a pillar for worship.
163. Do not tattoo your skin in any way.
164. Do not tear out your hair over the dead.
165. Do not practice augury, interpretation of omens.
166. Do not practice or use fortune telling, conjuring, or soothsaying.
167. Do not practice divination.
168. Do not practice sorcery.
169. Do not cast charms or spells.
170. Do not act as a medium.
171. Do not act as a wizard.
172. Do not seek information from a medium.
173. Do not seek information from a wizard.
174. Do not seek information from the dead.
175. Do not falsely prophesize in the name of Hashem.
176. Do not shave the hair over the temples.
177. Do not shave your beard with a razor.
178. Do not, as a woman, dress in men’s clothing.
179. Do not, as a man, dress in women’s clothing.
180. Do not plow using an ox and donkey together.
181. Do not wear a garment of linen and wool.
182. Do not ignore a fellow Jew’s lost object.
183. Do not neglect to unload an overburdened animal.
184. Do not fail to keep a promise.
185. Do not delay one’s promised or voluntary gift.
186. Do not eat from fields you are working till day’s end.
187. Do not take from fields you are working.
188. Do not neglect to prevent an animal eating while working.
189. Do not take a mother bird and her young.
190. Do not leave any hazard in one’s house.
191. Do not destroy fruit bearing trees during a siege.
192. Do not settle in Egypt.
193. Do not enter the Temple Mount ritually impure.
194. Do not forget Amalek’s affliction of Israel.
˚ Applies to men but not to women.
i Outside of the Land of Israel.
ii Obligations from the kesuba to clothe, feed, and provide conjugal relations to one’s wife.
iii For fear that the loan will be cancelled by the shmitah year release.
iv Domestic or wild kosher animal or fowl that died of natural causes or improper shchitah.
v Animal torn by a wild beast, dead or dying. Animals damaged, defective, or ill.
vi Animal which does not chew cud or have split hoofs.
vii Also prohibits their eggs.
viii Lacking fins and scales.
ix From the five species of grain (wheat, spelt, barley, rye, oats) from the 16th of Nissan.
x Fruit from first three years after planting in Eretz Yisrael. In Diaspora, doubtful orlah is permitted.
xi Included is prohibition of eating before praying.
xii She must marry her brother-in-law, or perform chalitzah.
xiii Child of an incest relationship.
xiv A non-Jew, or a Jewish woman who was intimate, willingly or unwillingly, with someone she is forbidden to marry.
xv A woman forbidden who was intimate with a Kohen, or born to a woman forbidden to a Kohen.
xvi The forbidden work as during Shabbos, with some exceptions. For example: carrying for a need, cooking, and transferring fire.
For further study the most accepted list of the 613 mitzvot is Maimonides‘ list in his Mishneh Torah. In the introduction to the first book of the Mishneh Torah, Maimonides lists all of the positive mitzvot and all of the negative mitzvot, then proceeds to divide them up into subject matter categories.
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