Wednesday, March 14, 2012


A mitzvah, a commandment.

While we think immediately of the 10. The traditional number of all the commandments in the Torah, the first five books of the bible, is 613. Yes, 613 commandments.

While as Christians we do not consider ourselves bound to all 613, the heart of the commandments is the same.

At their heart the commandments are about putting faith into action. They are a recognition that our very life is a gift from God and our every word and action should be directed to doing God's will.

In later Jewish tradition the word has taken on a broader meaning. It can refer to any small act of kindness done for someone, if it is done with an eye toward doing God's will.

Among the commandments there are those known as the 6 constant commandments
1. Know there is God
2. Believe in no other power
3. God is one
4. Love God
5. Fear God
6. Do not be mislead by your heart or eyes

While we may have trouble with number 5, we should remember that the Hebrew verb means to fear or to see. Perhaps to us an odd combination of meanings but it is rooted in the concept of the constant presence of God. Knowing that God is watching would I do this or that thing?

Jesus in today's gospel says clear he came not to abolish but to fulfill the law. Perhaps there is still much we can learn from our Jewish predecessors.