I read all 613 commandments. Here’s my takeaway.
As I combed through all the Jewish "mitzvot" for the first time, I had three distinct reactions.
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The Talmud tells us that there are 613 mitzvot (commandments) in the Torah, first recorded in the third century CE, when Rabbi Simlai mentioned it in a sermon.
However, the Talmud does not provide us with a list of these commandments. Several great Jewish scholars have compiled a complete listing of them; 248 of them are positive commandments (do’s) and 365 are negative ones (do not’s).
Many of the commandments cannot currently be observed, dating back to the Second Temple’s destruction in 70 CE, though they still retain religious significance. According to one standard reckoning, there are 271 commandments that can be observed today, of which 26 apply only within the Land of Israel.
As I combed through all 613 mitzvot for the first time, I had three distinct reactions: