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VCU Menorah Review Summer/Fall 2010
Number 73
For the Enrichment of Jewish Thought

Moreshet: From the Classics

Rabbi Simlai’s Summary of Judaism (3rd Century)

613 commandments were imparted to Moses, 365 negative (corresponding to the number of days in the year), and 248 positive (corresponding to the number of bones in the human body).

David came and reduced them to eleven. For it is written:

A Psalm of David. O Lord, who shall sojourn in thy tent? Who shall dwell on thy holy hill? (1) He who walks blamelessly, (2) and does what is right, (3) and speaks truth from his heart; (4) who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his friend, (6) nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor; (7) in whose eyes a reprobate is despised, (8) but who honours those who fear the Lord; (9) who swears to his own hurt and does not change; (10) who does not lend his money at interest, (11) and does not take bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved (Ps. 15.1-5).

Isaiah came and reduced them to six, for it is written:

(1) He who walks righteously (2) and speaks uprightly; ( 3 ) he who despises the gain of oppression (4) who shakes his hands, lest they hold a bribe, (5) who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, (6) and shuts his eyes from looking upon evil (Isa. 33.15).

Micah came and reduced them to three, for it is written:

He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but (1) to do justice, (2) and to love kindness, (3) and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6.8).
… Isaiah came again and reduced them to two, for it is written:

Thus says the Lord: (1) Keep justice (2) and do righteousness (Isa. 56.1).

Amos came and reduced them to one, for it is written:

For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: (1) Seek me and live (Amos 5:4).

Talmud Makkot 24A

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