4 of the 7 Rabbinic Mitzvahs

4 of the 7 Rabbinic Mitzvahs

For the Jewish community, the religion is full of mitzvahs, 613 in total written in the Torah. But for the higher hierarchies, there are some additional mitzvahs that need to be completed and followed. These are 7 additional mitzvahs that the prophets and rabbis have had for many centuries since the first millennium after the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. Many other laws were added in order to preserve the original 613 commandments.

Rabbinical court institutes are not an entity on their own. Instead, when they are going to propose a new mitzvah or decree the community needs dot be asked and if the Jewish nation agrees to such decree, then it becomes part of the Torah and Judaism. The Torah also tells us what rabbinical courts should do, and at the same time the Torah tells us how the rabbis should behave.

Saying Hallel

This mitzvah is the way Jewish people recite the Psalms 113-118  and praise god in certain occasions. The Hallel is done in festivals such as Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret (Simchat Torah), Chanukah, Passover, and Shavuot. This is done because is the way to thank god for the things he does for his children. Reciting the Hallel is just another way of thanking god for all the miracles he has done for the Jewish people.


The rabbis scripted many blessing for many types of occasions. For example, there are many blessings that are recited at dinner before having the pleasure of having food or drinking. Other blessings go before a  mitzvah and they have their own prescribed information. There are many types of blessings and all should be recited by the rabbis. Even when witnessing a natural phenomenon there is a blessing to be said.

Washing your Hands Before Eating

This could sound strange as everybody does such thing before eating. But, the reason for this is that sacred foods and Temple offerings cannot be taken with impure hands or soul.  The rabbis said that our hands are in constant contact with many objects and things in the world, so they are treated as impure. The only way to get rid of this impurity is by washing ones hands and the rabbis extended this law and decreed that everybody should wash their hands before eating bread.

Image courtesy of beth h at Flickr.com

Eruvs on Shabbat

There are many restrictions on the  Shabbat and festivals. The eruv is a way of making these restrictions softer. There are 3 types of eruvs:

  1. On Shabbat, the Torah prohibits moving anything from point A to point B. this is called reshut harabim. What the rabbis did was to extend the enclosed areas so this restriction wasn’t so hard.  By using this eruv an entire area is transformed to an enclosed place where carrying stuff is totally allowed. This type of eruv can be as big as many neighborhoods or as small as a house or a sidewalk.
    To make this eruv the area has to be closed. This could be done by raising walls, strings, mounted poles or wires. Then, the next step is that everyone inside the enclosed area has food and owns food of their own to be shared. All the Jews that are within the enclosed area share their food and some donate huge amounts of food for everyone.
  1. The second type of eruv is the Techumin. On Shabbat and festivals, the rabbis were not allowed to walk for more than 2,000 cubits from the city. It is an old rule, but yet to be followed. The eruv allows the rabbis to walk further on Shabbat by giving them the option of creating a temporary residence to obey such rule. They have to place food further away from the city before Shabbat or the festival begins.
  2. The third eruv is the tavshilin.  Festivals and the Shabbat are different because in the festivals people are allowed to cook and in the Sabbath, cooking is totally prohibited. So, in festivals, people may cook for that day and what they are going to eat in the festival. But what if a festival is a Friday? When will food for the Sabbath be cooked? It cannot be cooked the same day and people only cook on festivals what they will eat that same day.  In order to address this problem, the rabbis said that two food items should be prepared  for Shabbat before the holiday and this will mean that the cooking for the Sabbath has begun. Any other food cooked after this counts for the next day and can be eaten in Sabbath with no problem of going against the Jewish laws. This is called eruv tavshilin.

Be sure to also read this post about the Pidyon Haben and a Little explanation on this Jewish tradition

* Featured Image courtesy of Michele Pace at Flickr.com