What are the 613?
The Study of the Mitzvot

What are the 613 commandments? In Hebrew, the word for commandments is mitzvot. What are the 613 mitzvot? 

By tradition, there are 613 commandments given by God in the Torah at Mt. Sinai. These commandments are believed by Jews to reflect God’s expectations of the covenant people, that is, directions for ways of living that are consistent with both moral and religious duties borne to God.

While these commandments are not seen as binding by Christians and indeed many Jews today, they do bespeak in many ways a Divine wisdom that provides solid guidance for good living for all peoples of faith. 

What Are The 613?   -  Our Class

It was with this view that a Bible Study class at Westlake Hills Presbyterian Church began a yearlong study of the 613 commandments. We call this Divine Guidance for Good Living.

These materials that relate to the 613 are some of the most in-depth, comprehensive, and valuable online. They include key Biblical text, relevant questions, lesson plans, and audios of all the discussions relating to the 613. 

One fascinating feature of this approach to the 613 is the structure of study provided by the teacher, Sandy Kress. All the 613 are organized to be studied in these chapters: Relationship with God, Relationship with Others, Justice, Sacred Space, Sacred Time, and From Generation to Generation. And the chapters are further divided into parts that make the study of the 613 particularly relevant to modern life 

Perhaps the most extraordinary feature of this study of the 613 is that while the teacher is Jewish and steeped in Jewish learning, the class is made up almost entirely of learned Christian Bible students. This may indeed be the only detailed deep dive by both Jews and Christians, with a vast array of supportive tools and information, into the 613, online. Without doubt, it is very rare in any setting.  

This study of the 613 followed a yearlong exploration by this class of each weekly Torah portion. Information on that study - including Biblical text, key questions, summaries, lesson plans, and audios of class sessions - can be found at Torah Portion Studies.

Study of the 613 commandments has been ongoing for centuries. The great sages and scholars who suggested enumerations and published commentaries on the 613 include Maimonides, Nachmanides, Chinuch, and many rabbis since. Several of their commentaries served as the basis for our study of the 613.

What are the 613?     The Study of the Mitzvot

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