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The Mitzvot (Commandments)

Observance of the Jewish religion and adherence to its laws varies in levels depending on personal knowledge, commitment, and point of view. The fundamental blueprint of the religion according to the orthodox perspective is based on the 613 Mitzvot or 613 Commandments (Hebrew: תרי"ג מצוות‎; Taryag mitzvot; TaRYaG is the acronym for the numeric value of "613"), listed in the Torah (Bible).

The exact composition of the 613 commandments varies among the sages, but the majority accept the compilation by the "RAMBAM" or "Maimonides," that is Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon.

Of the 613 commandments, 248 are "positive commandments," commands to perform certain actions, and 365 are "negative commandments" commands to abstain from certain actions. According to some traditions, the 248 positive commands correspond to the number of bones and significant organs in the human body and the 365 negative commands corresponded to the number of tendons and ligaments and to the number of days in a year.

Of the 613 mitzvot, there are only three commandments that require adherence, no matter what, even if one's life is at stake. Those are the negative commandments prohibiting murder, idol-worship, and forbidden relations. In all other instances, when there is a question of a life at stake, saving a life takes precedent to the mitzvah. For example, a doctor, an ambulance driver, a security guard in places of danger, are all obligated to violate the Shabbat in order to protect and/or save lives.

Read more about the Mitzvot
   248 Positive Mitzvot
   365 Negative Mitzvot

RECOMMENDED READING
    Encyclopedia of the Taryag Mitzvoth 1 by Rabbi Dovid Wax
    The Encyclopedia of Taryag Mitzvot 2 - The Ten Commandments by Rabbi Dovid Wax
    The Taryag Mitzvah Cards - #1-24 by Rabbi Dovid Wax

 

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