A mitzvah is one of the Torah commandments that
relates to Jewish observance and religious practice. There is a
tradition that the Jewish people were given a total of 613 mitzvos
(plural of mitzvah) at Sinai, composed of 248 Positive Commandments
and 365 Negative Commandments. These divine laws are immutable and
"Set in Stone".
Judaism is not as much a religion as it is a relationship.
Mitzvah observance is how a Jew relates to G-d.
The commandments are the means of attaining this, as echoed in the
Hebrew word mitzvah "commandment" that denotes "togetherness"
or "connection". The central element of every mitzvah
is the relationship that the religious duty forges with G-d to build
an enduring and meaningful relationship with his Creator. It is
part of the eternal covenant that stretches through the millennia
all the way back to Sinai.
Judaism places mitzvah performance and action at
the fore of religious life. What a Jew eats, what he wears and how
he behaves every moment of his life are all governed by some mitzvah
or another. Jewish symbols such as mezuzah, tzitzis and tefillin,
the festival commandments of shofar, matzah and succah, man's business
dealings and the Jewish family are but a few areas regulated by
The Jewish people have valiantly braved countless
acts of oppression, persecution and ridicule to hold steadfast to
their faith, forever maximizing their opportunities for forging
a close relationship with G-d. With incredible self-sacrifice, they
have devoted all their resolve to mitzvah observance even in the
darkest times and have bequeathed their heritage onto the next generation.
It is a Jew's duty to have a basic knowledge of
the underlying principles of Jewish law to perform what G-d desires
of him as set down in the halachic work Shulchan Aruch, the Code
of Jewish Law. It is similarly worthwhile for man to enhance his
religious observance by delving into the meanings and rationales
of the laws.
A mitzvah is not irrelevant or ancient cultural
ritual. Jewish living is vibrant and alive, the words of the living
G-d. It naturally carries within it a wealth of wisdom and the pathway
to journeying a meaningful life. The study of ta'amei hamitzvos,
the reasons of the commandments assures that mitzvah performance
will not be stripped of its uplifting divine content and will not
degenerate into rote or be deemed burdensome.
Mitzva.org is proud to present a portal through which to
glimpse the wondrous wisdom of the divinely-given laws. It importantly
explains how Jewish living speaks loudly to the twenty-first century
contemporary Jew as it did to his ancestors.
Greater insight into this topic that stands at
the heart of Jewish living will revolutionize one's mind-frame,
enabling the Jew to emerge and be further inspired to relate to
what Jewish living really means.