Note: The list of mitzvot that can be taught in regard to each story is an attached file on this page.
Mitzvah is the primary Jewish lens for living. Mitzvot (pl) are ethical and life-shaping ritual actions and so need to be birthed from the womb of learning into living. If we are honest and modest, we are probably not even aware of this fact, that a lot of mitzvot lie latent within us, still in a potential state. That’s why mitzvah mentoring is at the heart of this volume’s intent. We are all just as Jewish tradition describes us—as full of mitzvot as a pomegranate is full of seeds.
The practice and relevance of mitzvah goes far beyond “being a good person,” and beyond its dictionary definition of “commandment,” and even beyond how a given mitzvah is detailed in halachah, Jewish law. Mitzvah study and practice help us develop as individuals and as a people. Each mitzvah constitutes a category of Jewish spiritual practice that provides us ways of texturing our lives with meaningful actions. (See attached file at bottom to download mitzvot listed by story)
Forty-Five Mitzvah-Centered Practices (c) 2011 Reclaiming Judaism Press
Live in Love
Do what you do out of an expansive love of the world and all creatures. A love that comes from being out in nature and deeply aware of the divine beauty and intricacy of all that is.
Live in Awe
Be attentive to the power and laws of nature and the consequences of ethical marks missed, so much so that, virtually trembling in awe, you focus your speech and actions with care.
Undertake conscious acts of self-restraint, love and generosity that may yield greater peace at home.
Exercise truth when promoting self and others, products, programs and services.
shamor et yom ha-Shabbat
Savor and Secure Sacred Time
Re-soul on the seventh day of each week—away from money, media and materialism—through practices that deepen your connection to Torah, family and community, sustained by Judaism as a spiritual path.
Avoid Damage to Nature
Refrain from damaging the environment, on earth and beyond; protect life forms and habitats, and conserve resources.
kavod av v’ em
Honor Loved Ones
Ensure your parents’ well-being. Cause them no shame. Hakarat ha-tov, acknowledge the good they have done. Fulfill healthy requests. Say kaddish.
kol yisrael areivim zeh la-zeh
Be Counted and Accountable
Show up for others and appreciate those who show up for you in order to ensure supportive communities of prayer and care.
Take No Revenge
Address loss and anger carefully without taking revenge or multiplying wrongs.
Restrain Dangerous Desires
Recognize jealousy and inappropriate attractions and practice non-attachment to that which is not ethically yours to have or to hold.
lo titeyn mikshol
Create No Stumbling Blocks
Resist setting up environments and situations in ways that trip others literally and/or ethically.
Listen with Understanding
Connect, love and listen through the daily and bedtime shema as you pause and prayerfully reflect at the doorposts of your day, your dreams, and, one day, your life.
v’hadarta p’nai zaken
Receive elders with respectful attention to their experience, capabilities and needs.
Separate milk—the mammals’ life-giving force, from meat—life taken away; then hiddur—“embellish” the mitzvah of keeping kosher with blessing and attention to ethical agriculture, slaughter,transport, labor and packaging.
Take good physical care of your body, the precious instrument upon which your soul plays life for God.
Host in your home and out in the world as though all people—in the markets, schools, buses, streets—are your honored guests.
Cleave and Commit
Ritually braid your soul with your beloved into a state of committed relationship under the symbol for your Jewish home, a chuppah, the Jewish wedding canopy, in the presence of family, friends and community.
Find the Prayer of Your Heart
Empty yourself of stress and refill with healing and connection through communal services and daily personal prayer which incorporate the arousing of love, awe, and awareness with the expression of gratitude and yearning.
Advocate, donate and strive to liberate those who are being immorally held in slavery or in prisons, by governments or captors.
Feed the Hungry
Organize and assist in providing those-in-need a safe place to eat where they are given nourishing meals.
Work through issues with those whom you have hurt, and feel hurt by (when safe to do so), so that wholeness and holiness can return to your relationships. Forgiveness is a process that heals the heart and liberates the soul.
tza’ar ba'alei chayyim
Act to end unnecessary pain and suffering of animals in slaughterhouses, medical research centers, puppy farms, cosmetic production, and more.
Take action to ensure a safe, just, beautiful State of Israel.
Heed the shofar’s call of a year’s time passing and the need for healing of relationships within, between, and Beyond.
Study and Teach Torah
Teach the children and immerse yourself in regular study and teaching of Jewish sacred texts, stories and practices as a lens for individual and collective awareness and growth.
Walk the Talk
Engage each aspect of human nature—your own and others—in ways that make you a source of blessing.
Achieve an equitable distribution of your personal resources with care for those in need, and for worthy programs that develop and provide healthcare, education and tradition.
zeicher litziyat mitzrayim
Remember the Exodus
Remember our people’s story of leaving slavery for freedom as a faithful inspiration for living and loving, within the kiddush on Shabbat, through a Passover seder, and more.
asu lachem tzitzit
Wrap Yourself in Mitzvah
Move mitzvot from the fringes of consciousness toward your sacred center, as your prayer garment, your tallit, helps focus and shelter your spirit.
Give of Your Time
Enrich many with your deeds of uncompensated loving kindness and services as a volunteer.
Sign on as an organ, tissue and blood donor, lobby for traffic lights and speed limits, report suspicious persons and objects, obtain fire extinguishers, and much more.
Visit the Sick
Support the spirit and healing of those who are physically or emotionally unwell with visits and calls; listen to and affirm their feelings; organize, as needed, any necessary transportation, supplies, meals, etc. Support research.
Take exquisite care to report truthfully what was said or done lest justice be miscarried.
dina d’malchuta dina
Be an Active Citizen
Cultivate a healthier society by adding your vision, voice, views, values, vote, taxes, service, concerns, and attention to the laws of the land.
Spread the Light
Kindle the menorah’s increasing flames for each of Hanukkah’s eight nights, contemplating and sharing the meaning of the miracle of the Light.
tzedek, tzedek tirdof
Work relentlessly for all and for each to live in dignity, with equal opportunity for and access to safety, food, education, healthcare, religion, and culture.
Sit in a Sukkah
Put together your fragile harvest home, then build life's inner circle. Invite friends and neighbors for meals, ritual, study and contemplation as awe of Nature filters in.
Go to Israel
Visit or live in Israel. Only experience can convey the meaning of this mitzvah.
Love Your Neighbor
Love others as you might best love yourself, including the many varieties of Jews and all the world’s peoples.
al mezuzot beitecha
Create Sacred Space
Place a mezuzah on all non-bathroom doorways at home, throughout the Jewish community and, when feasible, at work, to mark each room as sacred space for listening, understanding and loving.
rosh chodesh & kiddush levanah
Gather, bless and share about life in rhythm with the new and full moon.
brit bat and brit milah
Accept the Covenant
Take on the rituals to enter yourself and your children into membership in the Jewish people—a Jewish sacred name, male circumcision, immersion in living waters, and more—based on your parentage and denominational practices.
Bring in the Light
Create the hearth of the Jewish home by lighting Shabbat and holy day candles to frame sacred times together.
Immerse and Clear
Transition spiritually into marriage, covenant, holy days, healing and “monthly renewal,” through the mitzvah of taharah, reflective immersion in the living waters of a river, ocean, lake or indoor pool facility.
Bless and Know You are Blessed
Bless in appreciation before and after eating. Say the shehecheyanu to express gratitude when wearing new clothes, for fruits eaten anew each year, the joy of life cycle attainments, and more.