There are 613 commandments in the written Torah. The Divine decrees of the 613 Commandments encompass every area of a Jew’s life. They pertain to every situation in which man may find himself. They have universal application: from arising in the morning to retiring at night, from a Jew’s birth until his dying breath, from the lowly servant to the powerful king. Every sphere of human activity – without exception – comes under the umbrella of Torah.
While the casual observer may view the 613 Commandments as painful, restrictive impositions that impede man’s enjoyment of life, nothing could be further from the truth.
Actually, the 613 Commandments are not dissimilar to the definitive set of instructions issued by the manufacturer of an appliance for the benefit of the recent purchaser to get the most out of the product. God gave the 613 Commandments as the complete manual of living to teach a Jew how he can effectively get the most out of his life, draw close to God, and earn eternity in Olam Haba, the World to Come.
Man is categorized as an “olam katan,” a world in microcosm. Everything God wishes to reveal in the universe can be viewed in miniature within man. Man was not created complete; he was created to complete himself. There is the famous principle, man is formed according to his actions. Just as creation finds expression through the physical world, so too, man’s potential is realized in the actual through the practical enactment of the 613 Commandments. The commandments, which relate to the Divine intellect of Torah, enable man to connect with his spiritual self.
Together, the 613 Commandments are characterized as 613 pathways of the Torah. The relationship with God formed by the mitzvot comes to define the life of a Jew. When we are more in touch with the spiritual, Divine intellect association within every mitzvah, our creative power is unleashed and we can truly accomplish anything as our unique human potential is actualized through self-expression.
Today, contemplate what aspects of your life are preventing you from living life on your own terms. Identify one mitzvah that speaks to you and commit to studying it and work towards practicing it.