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A mitzvah ( Hebrew מצוה; (singular and plural); pronunciation: Sephardic : mitzvah, plural: mitzvot; Ashkenazi : mitzwo, plural: mitzwauss or mitzwojss ) is a commandment in Judaism that is named by Talmudic literature in the Torah or but could also have been determined by rabbis . In contrast to Halacha , which describes the entire "religious legal" system of Judaism, Mitzvah focuses on a "single duty".

In the Talmud, the number of mitzvot contained in the Torah is numbered at 613 without listing them. Only later scholars have fixed the 613 Mitzvot in their works (the Ten Commandments are part of it). The Mitzvot is divided into 365 prohibitions (corresponding to the days in the calendar year) and 248 commandments (corresponding to the limbs of the human being). There is equivalence among the Mitzvot, although slight (kalot) and severe (chamurot) violations of the rules are distinguished.

One of the most famous lists and explanations of the 613 mitzvot is the - in the Middle Ages, resulting - Sefer HaMitzwot the Jewish legal scholar Maimonides . In his main philosophical work Leader of the Indecisive , Maimonides postulates that all mitzvot are based on divine wisdom, although he distinguishes between easily understandable commandments ( Hebrew mischpatim ) and difficult to understand commandments (Hebrew chukkim ) and explains that some special commandments cannot be reasonably justified and based solely on God's will.

According to Pikuach Nefesch , according to Jewish law , all but three of the commandments of the Torah may be broken in mortal danger (murder, idolatry, fornication). In particular, when observing the Sabbath rest , the rule applies: "Danger to life cancels the Shabbat."

Tzedakah box on a Jewish gravestone. Otwock Jewish Cemetery , Poland. (on the term: "Tzedaka", translated: "Charity", is an important commandment for Jewish men and women.)

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Mitzvah  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  • Julius Hans Schoeps (Ed.): New Lexicon of Judaism. Bertelsmann Lexikon Verlag, Gütersloh / Munich 1998, ISBN 3-577-10604-2 .
  • Alfred J. Kolatch: Understanding the Jewish World. Six hundred questions and answers. (Original title: The Jewish Book of Why. ) Translated and edited by Miriam Magall . 2nd edition, Marix, Wiesbaden 2011, ISBN 978-3-86539-043-1 .
  • Peter Landesmann: The Jews and their Faith - History, Present and Knowledge , Amalthea Signum, 2012, ISBN 3850028070 , p. 195 ff.

Individual evidence

  1. Mitzvah. In: Julius Hans Schoeps (Ed.): New Lexicon of Judaism. Bertelsmann Lexikon Verlag, Gütersloh / Munich 1998, ISBN 3-577-10604-2 .
  2. Glossary Tzedakah