There are 613 mitzvot, which are Jewish rules or commandments. They cover many aspects of Jewish life, some in great detail. Jews agreed to follow these rules when they were given to Moses as part of the covenant at Mount Sinai. Following these laws is a core part of Jewish identity. The 613 mitzvot can be found in the Torah and they guide Jews on how to live a good life. Many Jews believe that disobeying the mitzvot will result in punishment.
One way of thinking of the mitzvot is as ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ rules:
There are also six constant mitzvot. These are rules or laws that should always be in the minds of Jews:
Mitzvot may also be categorised as:
Reform Jews may prioritise keeping the mishpatim mitzvot over the chukim mitzvot. Orthodox Jews are likely to see the chukim mitzvot as equally important to the mishpatim mitzvot. For them, God gave the commandment so it should be followed.
Why do Jews believe it is important to follow the mitzvot?
Jews believe that Moses received the mitzvot from God. Therefore, following the mitzvot will help them to live a good life as God would want.