RESPECT OUR JEWISH HERITAGE

What follows is an exerpt from my newest book entitled PRESCRIPTIONS

   FOR LOVING GOD: A Lay Cistercian reflects  on five sets of laws that  

   enable us to seek God in everyday living.

In going through my daily Lectio Divina, I thought about Philippians 2:5 and Matthew 22:37 when Christ told us that he did not come to change the Law but to fulfill it. I wondered, as I still do, what that might mean. I found five listings of the law to be helpful in my seeking God. 

I. THE OLD TESTAMENT LAW

What follows are the 613 laws that Jews must follow. I am going to copy them in full, for you to see how the people at the time of Christ, especially Pharisees, were, sincere people, trying to keep the law of Moses. You will notice that some of these laws are not found in scripture but in the traditions that come down through the centuries. I offer my reflections on this article at the end. I am struck by the transformation of Law from the Old Testament and what Christ fulfilled in the New Testament. Matthew 22:37. The Church today has all the flaws, the anxieties, the miscues of Israel. The Old Covenant tells how much God loves his stiff-necked people and he will be there God forever. In the New Covenant, Christ tells his flawed and sinful followers how much he loved them but asked them to love one another as He has loved them. The Gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church, his Mystical Body.

I usually don’t recommend placing the questions before what I ask you to read, but in this case, the resource is so beautiful that I want you to think about these 613 prescriptions BEFORE you read them, hopefully, in their entirety. Here are three questions to keep in mind as you read them. They come to us from God through Israel.

LEARNING POINTS AND DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • How many of these Jewish laws would you be able to keep right now? If you can’t keep them, why not? 
  • Do you see any carry-over trends from the 613 prescriptions of the Law to what Christ taught us? What are they?
  • What are the assumptions you must hold if you are Jewish and wish to carry out the Law and love God with your whole mind, your whole heart, and your whole strength? Are these the same assumptions that you hold to be true when you look at these 613 prescriptions of the Law?

RESOURCES

https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/756399/jewish/The-613-Commandments-Mitzvot.htm

http://www.jewfaq.org/613.htm

By Tracey R. Rich © Copyright 5757-5771 (1996-2011),

“Below is a list of the 613 mitzvot (commandments). It is based primarily on the list compiled by Rambam in the Mishneh Torah, but I have consulted other sources as well. As I said in the page on Halakhah, Rambam’s list is probably the most widely accepted list, but it is not the only one. The order is my own, as are the explanations of how some rules are derived from some biblical passages.”

For each mitzvah, I have provided a citation to the biblical passage or passages from which it is derived, based primarily on Rambam. For commandments that can be observed today, I have also provided citations to the Chafetz Chayim’s Concise Book of Mitzvot (CCA refers to affirmative commandments; CCN refers to negative commandments; CCI refers to commandments that only apply in Israel). Commandments that cannot be observed today primarily relate to the Temple, its sacrifices and services (because the Temple does not exist) and criminal procedures (because the theocratic state of Israel does not exist).

G-d

  1. To know that G-d exists (Ex. 20:2; Deut. 5:6) (CCA1). See What Do Jews Believe?.
  2. Not to entertain the idea that there is any god but the Eternal (Ex. 20:3) (CCN8). See What Do Jews Believe?.
  3. Not to blaspheme (Ex. 22:27; in Christian texts, Ex. 22:28), the penalty for which is death (Lev. 24:16) (negative).
  4. To hallow G-d’s name (Lev. 22:32) (CCA5). See The Name of G-d.
  5. Not to profane G-d’s name (Lev . 22:32) (CCN155). See The Name of G-d.
  6. To know that G-d is One, a complete Unity (Deut. 6:4) (CCA2). See What Do Jews Believe?.
  7. To love G-d (Deut. 6:5) (CCA3). See What Do Jews Believe?.
  8. To fear Him reverently (Deut. 6:13; 10:20) (CCA4).
  9. Not to put the word of G-d to the test (Deut. 6:16) (negative).
  10. To imitate His good and upright ways (Deut. 28:9) (CCA6).

Torah

  1. To honor the old and the wise (Lev. 19:32) (CCA17).
  2. To learn Torah and to teach it (Deut. 6:7) (CCA14). See Torah.
  3. To cleave to those who know Him (Deut. 10:20) (the Talmud states that cleaving to scholars is equivalent to cleaving to Him) (CCA16).
  4. Not to add to the commandments of the Torah, whether in the Written Law or in its interpretation received by tradition (Deut. 13:1) (CCN159). See Torah.
  5. Not to take away from the commandments of the Torah (Deut. 13:1) (CCN160). See Torah.
  6. That every person shall write a scroll of the Torah for himself (Deut. 31:19) (CCA15). See Torah.

Signs and Symbols

  1. To circumcise the male offspring (Gen. 17:12; Lev. 12:3) (CCA47) See Brit Milah: Circumcision.
  2. To put tzitzit on the corners of clothing (Num. 15:38) (CCA10). See Tzitzit and Tallit.
  3. To bind tefillin on the head (Deut. 6:8) (CCA9). See Tefillin.
  4. To bind tefillin on the arm (Deut. 6:8) (CCA8). See Tefillin.
  5. To affix the mezuzah to the doorposts and gates of your house (Deut. 6:9) (CCA12). See Mezuzah.

Prayer and Blessings

  1. To pray to G-d (Ex. 23:25; Deut. 6:13) (according to the Talmud, the word “serve” in these verses refers to prayer) (CCA7). See Prayers and BlessingsJewish Liturgy.
  2. To read the Shema in the morning and at night (Deut. 6:7) (CCA11). See Jewish Liturgy.
  3. To recite grace after meals (Deut. 8:10) (CCA13). See Birkat Ha-Mazon: Grace After Meals
  4. Not to lay down a stone for worship (Lev. 26:1) (CCN161).

Love and Brotherhood

  1. To love all human beings who are of the covenant (Lev. 19:18) (CCA60). See Love and Brotherhood.
  2. Not to stand by idly when a human life is in danger (Lev. 19:16) (CCN82). See Love and Brotherhood.
  3. Not to wrong anyone in speech (Lev. 25:17) (CCN48). See Speech and Lashon Ha-Ra.
  4. Not to carry tales (Lev. 19:16) (CCN77). See Speech and Lashon Ha-Ra.
  5. Not to cherish hatred in one’s heart (Lev. 19:17) (CCN78). See Love and Brotherhood.
  6. Not to take revenge (Lev. 19:18) (CCN80).
  7. Not to bear a grudge (Lev. 19:18) (CCN81).
  8. Not to put any Jew to shame (Lev. 19:17) (CCN79).
  9. Not to curse any other Israelite (Lev. 19:14) (by implication: if you may not curse those who cannot hear, you certainly may not curse those who can) (CCN45).
  10. Not to give occasion to the simple-minded to stumble on the road (Lev. 19:14) (this includes doing anything that will cause another to sin) (CCN76).
  11. To rebuke the sinner (Lev. 19:17) (CCA72).
  12. To relieve a neighbor of his burden and help to unload his beast (Ex. 23:5) (CCA70). See Love and Brotherhood.
  13. To assist in replacing the load upon a neighbor’s beast (Deut. 22:4) (CCA71). See Love and Brotherhood.
  14. Not to leave a beast, that has fallen down beneath its burden, unaided (Deut. 22:4) (CCN183). See Love and Brotherhood.

The Poor and Unfortunate

  1. Not to afflict an orphan or a widow (Ex. 22:21) (CCN51).
  2. Not to reap the entire field (Lev. 19:9; Lev. 23:22) (negative) (CCI6).
  3. To leave the unreaped corner of the field or orchard for the poor (Lev. 19:9) (affirmative) (CCI1).
  4. Not to gather gleanings (the ears that have fallen to the ground while reaping) (Lev. 19:9) (negative) (CCI7).
  5. To leave the gleanings for the poor (Lev. 19:9) (affirmative) (CCI2).
  6. Not to gather ol’loth (the imperfect clusters) of the vineyard (Lev. 19:10) (negative) (CCI8).
  7. To leave ol’loth (the imperfect clusters) of the vineyard for the poor (Lev. 19:10; Deut. 24:21) (affirmative) (CCI3).
  8. Not to gather the peret (grapes) that have fallen to the ground (Lev. 19:10) (negative) (CCI9).
  9. To leave peret (the single grapes) of the vineyard for the poor (Lev. 19:10) (affirmative) (CCI4).
  10. Not to return to take a forgotten sheaf (Deut. 24:19) This applies to all fruit trees (Deut. 24:20) (negative) (CC10).
  11. To leave the forgotten sheaves for the poor (Deut. 24:19-20) (affirmative) (CCI5).
  12. Not to refrain from maintaining a poor man and giving him what he needs (Deut. 15:7) (CCN62). See Tzedakah: Charity.
  13. To give charity according to one’s means (Deut. 15:11) (CCA38). See Tzedakah: Charity.

Treatment of Gentiles

  1. To love the stranger (Deut. 10:19) (CCA61). See Love and Brotherhood.
  2. Not to wrong the stranger in speech (Ex. 22:20) (CCN49).
  3. Not to wrong the stranger in buying or selling (Ex. 22:20) (CCN50).
  4. Not to intermarry with gentiles (Deut. 7:3) (CCN19). See Interfaith Marriages.
  5. To exact the debt of an alien (Deut. 15:3) (affirmative).
  6. To lend to an alien at interest (Deut. 23:21) According to tradition, this is mandatory (affirmative).

Marriage, Divorce and Family

  1. To honor father and mother (Ex. 20:12) (CCA41).
  2. Not to smite a father or a mother (Ex. 21:15) (CCN44).
  3. Not to curse a father or mother (Ex. 21:17) (CCN46).
  4. To reverently fear father and mother (Lev. 19:3) (CCA42).
  5. To be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28) (CCA43).
  6. That a eunuch shall not marry a daughter of Israel (Deut. 23:2) (CCN136).
  7. That a mamzer shall not marry the daughter of a Jew (Deut. 23:3) (CCN137). See Prohibited Marriages and Illegitimate Children.
  8. That an Ammonite or Moabite shall never marry the daughter of an Israelite (Deut. 23:4) (negative).
  9. Not to exclude a descendant of Esau from the community of Israel for three generations (Deut. 23:8-9) (negative).
  10. Not to exclude an Egyptian from the community of Israel for three generations (Deut. 23:8-9) (negative).
  11. That there shall be no harlot (in Israel); that is, that there shall be no intercourse with a woman, without previous marriage with a deed of marriage and formal declaration of marriage (Deut. 23:18) (CCN133). SeeMarriage.
  12. To take a wife by kiddushin, the sacrament of marriage (Deut. 24:1) (CCA44). See The Process of Marriage: Kiddushin and Nisuin.
  13. That the newly married husband shall (be free) for one year to rejoice with his wife (Deut. 24:5) (affirmative).
  14. That a bridegroom shall be exempt for a whole year from taking part in any public labor, such as military service, guarding the wall and similar duties (Deut. 24:5) (negative).
  15. Not to withhold food, clothing or conjugal rights from a wife (Ex. 21:10) (CCN42). See The Marital Relationship.
  16. That the woman suspected of adultery shall be dealt with as prescribed in the Torah (Num. 5:30) (affirmative).
  17. That one who defames his wife’s honor (by falsely accusing her of unchastity before marriage) must live with her all his lifetime (Deut. 22:19) (affirmative).
  18. That a man may not divorce his wife concerning whom he has published an evil report (about her unchastity before marriage) (Deut. 22:19) (negative).
  19. To divorce by a formal written document (Deut. 24:1) (affirmative). See The Process of Obtaining a Divorce.
  20. That one who divorced his wife shall not remarry her, if after the divorce she had been married to another man (Deut. 24:4) (CCN134). See Divorce.
  21. That a widow whose husband died childless must not be married to anyone but her deceased husband’s brother (Deut. 25:5) (CCN135) (this is only in effect insofar as it requires the procedure of release below).
  22. To marry the widow of a brother who has died childless (Deut. 25:5) (this is only in effect insofar as it requires the procedure of release below ) (CCA45).
  23. That the widow formally release the brother-in-law (if he refuses to marry her) (Deut. 25:7-9) (CCA46).

Forbidden Sexual Relations

  1. Not to indulge in familiarities with relatives, such as kissing, embracing, winking, skipping, which may lead to incest (Lev. 18:6) (CCN110).
  2. Not to commit incest with one’s mother (Lev. 18:7) (CCN112). See Prohibited Marriages and Illegitimate Children.
  3. Not to commit sodomy with one’s father (Lev. 18:7) (CCN111).
  4. Not to commit incest with one’s father’s wife (Lev. 18:8) (CCN113). See Prohibited Marriages and Illegitimate Children.
  5. Not to commit incest with one’s sister (Lev. 18:9) (CCN127). See Prohibited Marriages and Illegitimate Children.
  6. Not to commit incest with one’s father’s wife’s daughter (Lev. 18:11) (CCN128). See Prohibited Marriages and Illegitimate Children.
  7. Not to commit incest with one’s son’s daughter (Lev. 18:10) (CCN119) (Note: CC treats this and the next as one commandment; however, Rambam treats them as two). See Prohibited Marriages and Illegitimate Children.
  8. Not to commit incest with one’s daughter’s daughter (Lev. 18:10) (CCN119) (Note: CC treats this and the previous as one commandment; however, Rambam treats them as two). See Prohibited Marriages and Illegitimate Children.
  9. Not to commit incest with one’s daughter (this is not explicitly in the Torah but is inferred from other explicit commands that would include it) (CCN120). See Prohibited Marriages and Illegitimate Children.
  10. Not to commit incest with one’s fathers sister (Lev. 18:12) (CCN129). See Prohibited Marriages and Illegitimate Children.
  11. Not to commit incest with one’s mother’s sister (Lev. 18:13) (CCN130). See Prohibited Marriages and Illegitimate Children.
  12. Not to commit incest with one’s father’s brothers wife (Lev. 18:14) (CCN125). See Prohibited Marriages and Illegitimate Children.
  13. Not to commit sodomy with one’s father’s brother (Lev. 18:14) (CCN114).
  14. Not to commit incest with one’s son’s wife (Lev. 18:15) (CCN115). See Prohibited Marriages and Illegitimate Children.
  15. Not to commit incest with one’s brother’s wife (Lev. 18:16) (CCN126). See Prohibited Marriages and Illegitimate Children.
  16. Not to commit incest with one’s wife’s daughter (Lev. 18:17) (CCN121). See Prohibited Marriages and Illegitimate Children.
  17. Not to commit incest with the daughter of one’s wife’s son (Lev. 18:17) (CCN122). See Prohibited Marriages and Illegitimate Children.
  18. Not to commit incest with the daughter of one’s wife’s daughter (Lev. 18:17) (CCN123). See Prohibited Marriages and Illegitimate Children.
  19. Not to commit incest with one’s wife’s sister (Lev. 18:18) (CCN131). See Prohibited Marriages and Illegitimate Children.
  20. Not to have intercourse with a woman, in her menstrual period (Lev. 18:19) (CCN132).
  21. Not to have intercourse with another man’s wife (Lev. 18:20) (CCN124).
  22. Not to commit sodomy with a male (Lev. 18:22) (CCN116).
  23. Not to have intercourse with a beast (Lev. 18:23) (CCN117).
  24. That a woman shall not have intercourse with a beast (Lev. 18:23) (CCN118).
  25. Not to castrate the male of any species; neither a man, nor a domestic or wild beast, nor a fowl (Lev. 22:24) (CCN143).

BEING A CATHOLIC UNIVERSAL MEMBER UNDER THE LAW

Here are some thoughts from a broken-down, old Lay Cistercian about the Law, Faith, the Spirit, and how all of this works towards the glory of God.

  • The Law of the OT is not bad. It came from God. What makes it the object of Christ’s wrath is not practicing it the way it was intended, to love God. Christ came, not to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it.
  • Fulfilling it means what is essential about the Law moves forward.
  • There is an Old Covenant with the Twelve Tribes of Israel (10 of whom were assumed into Assyria) and fulfilled by Christ, and the Twelve Apostles in a New Covenant, one of love for each other as Christ loves us.
  • The Old Testament is exclusive of those who are Jewish. The New Testament (Acts of the Apostles) had to struggle to move from a geographical area (although that is still true) to the whole world.
  • For those who believe in Faith (a gift from God, not because of your belief), spirituality opens up past the statues and regulations to one law– Shema Yisrael Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:37).
  • The Spirit of the Law is the deeper meaning contained in keeping it.
  • The Jews are the firstborn of God. Salvation comes from the Jews and is perfected and fulfilled through Christ.
  • Don’t think of the Law as being bad while the Spirit is good. The Law is good, when used to lead us to the Spirit. We are not saved by doing the Law, reading the Law, but by Faith. Faith is a gift from God that overshadows us and allows us to share in a small way the love of Christ for the Father through the Holy Spirit. Just as Faith without works is dead, so too is the Law without the Spirit. The Advocate comes at Pentecost to give theApostles Faith to go out and do what Christ showed us how to live until we reach Heaven.
  • What the Apostles shared, they share with the Church Universal in all ages, to keep the prescriptions of the Law, not to abolish them or make them up to suit our fickle claims to know what God thinks. The Law ensures stability and continuity with the past so that we can practice our Faith as Christ taught us and the Apostles handed down to us.

All of these sets of laws are designed to help us focus on loving God or Christ. The important part of the Law is it comes from God as interpreted through the leaders of Israel in the OT and by the Church Universal in the NT. Authority is given to the Law by God Himself.

These are the Laws of Christ and the Apostles inherited. We honor these Laws and traditions of the Elders because from they sprout the prescriptions we observe today.

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