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Rabbi David Katz

Foreword from - Sefer hamitzvos hakotzer of the Chofetz Chaim : an explanation of every mitzvah that can be observed in our days : with a compendium of Talmudic and Rabbinic quotations and commentaries.

What a great nation that has laws and ordinances so worthy and acceptable as the Torah.

Take heed and be very careful not to forget the things your eyes saw the day you stood before God (Devarim 4:8-10)

This means: I strongly warn you to take heed and guard yourselves very, very much to remember from where the commandments came to you, the Revelation on Mt Sinai, the thunder and the lightening, His glory and His greatness and His words which you heard from the midst of the fire (Rambam ibid)

The principle ofna’aseh v'nishma -"we will do and we will hear", is the declaration of commitment which preceded the receiving of the Torah itself. Acceptance of this unconditional commitment to the will of God, is the prerequisite to acceptance of the Torah…

Torah is a Torah of life, and all its exalted ideas must find active expression and actualization in daily life. The obligation to keep the Jewish laws is therefore independent of any understanding of them.

The Torah of God is perfect (Psalms 19:8)

The Torah contains 613 commandments embracing every possible phase of Jewish life. These commandments are divided into 248 positive commandments, equated to the number of organs and blood vessels in the human body and 365 prohibitions, the number of days in the solar year. (Talmud Makkos 24a)

These commandments are more than just spiritual exercises. They are Divine decrees revealed to us by the Creator Himself during a breath-taking display of His glory and greatness. On that momentous occasion God revealed the ways in which man should use the world and its creatures according to its intended purpose (Moshe Chaim Luzatto)

Based on man’s natural faults and all true excellence and value He set up patterns and restraints. These are the positive and negative commandments. Each commandment is intended to enable man to earn and incorporate in himself a particular level of excellence or remove an area of darkness…

The details of the individual commandments are based on all the aspects of man’s true nature and character, as well as the conditions and limits necessary for his perfection

God knows all this and the proper use of His creations took everything into account and included everything necessary in the commandments of His Torah. As its written in Devarim 6:24 “God commanded us to follow all these rules…… that He may grant us good.”

The performance of the commandments is necessary for the proper spiritual development of the Jewish nation and the individual. (Alay Shur)

Some commandments pertain to specific groups or individuals (like the Kohanim) and the observance affects the Jewish nation (Sefer Beer Moshe p202) due to the powerful inter-relationship that binds the Jewish nation. Therefore, we are all responsible for the acts of fellow Jews (Talmud Shavuot 39a)

A major portion of Judaism is not available to us today- commandments dependent on the Bais Hamikdosh/Temple, laws pertaining to defilement of purity. While we are not responsible for these commandments we must acknowledge that our spiritual wellbeing is lacking due to their absence. (Kuzari2-56-62)

Practicality demands a study and observance of those commandments applicable in our days. This is the purpose of the Sefer Hamitzvot Hakatzor/ Book of Mitzvot applicable in our times.

We should all hope and pray to be able to fulfil all Gods commandments, the coming of the Moshiach and the rebuilding of Bais Hamikdosh soon in our days. Amen

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