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Why do non-Jews need 7 mitzvot while Jews need 613?

Why do non-Jews need 7 mitzvot while Jews need 613?



It seems to me that the more refined and spiritual a person will be, the less he will need commandments, as he himself will understand what is right and wrong. Just like a child needs so many more rules than an adult.

Following this logic, why do non-Jews need only seven mitzvot while Jews need 613?


Good question. Rabbi Yehuda Loewe (the "Maharal") of Prague asked the same question some 400 years ago. He explained that the true expression of G‑dliness is freedom. The human soul is G‑dly, therefore it is free to be whatever it wants, to rise to the highest heights, or, G‑d forbid, the opposite.

Therefore, whereas animals know their rules by nature and generally stick to them without being told, the human being must be commanded. The basic structure of his laws are seven, because they are meant to limit him within space: six directions plus the space within which he stands.

The Jewish soul, because it must be a light to the nations, expresses the freedom of G‑dliness even more. Therefore it must be restricted within time, as well. These are the 365 prohibitions, corresponding to the 365 days of the year (the year is the basic measurement of time).

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman for

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
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Mr. Daniel Rivera January 20, 2011

thanks The wisdom of the Creator is magnificent, His Laws are made to help Human being find a better way to live. Reply

Anonymous New York, NY November 5, 2010

PC for us less understanding R T F,
in his unquestionable storyteller style again brings down heaven to earth. Sort of.

The point is simple. We say this many time a day: Rabbi Chananya Ben Akashya omar, Ratzo vehu...
In English the Good Lord of Israel wanted to reward his people so he gave him many commandments.
What was so complicated about this? Reply

t'heila May 5, 2007

My first problem with this answer is it's not an answer. Maybe it sounds good to start, but there are not 365 days in a Jewish year. My personal opinion is that the Noahide 7 are just the basics in order for the other nations to have fellowship with those of us who attempt to hold to the 613. How else could we be a light? If we only show our light around other lights and not into the darkness, what's the point?
Like I said, just my opinion. Reply

Kelly Allen Iowa USA March 21, 2007

the "other" 248 It seems Rabbi Tzvi is referring specifically to the prohibitive commands when he relates 365 Jewish laws to the 7 Noahide laws. All seven of the mitvot given to us (speaking as a ger) are prohibitions.

It seems in many ways these are the minimum requirements to avoid further destructive actions in our world, while the 248 are creative mitzvot allowing the Jew specifically to repair what is broken.

If we believe in a world where the Creator is still active (as I do) one might also assume that minimizing further destruction, in a way works toward repairing the world also, since He is ever building toward a climactic result. So whether we watch with anxious anticipation, or labor as co-creators, He shares the end result with those who have all along desired that world to come. Reply

Anonymous March 20, 2007

I don't agree with the questioner's assumption that children have more rules than adults. Adults and children have different kinds of rules - to suit their different environments and levels of responsibility. If anything, I would guess that adults must follow far more rules than children -- aside from all of the basic rules of good manners and citizenship, there are rules for driving, rules for doing taxes, workplace rules, etc., etc. Kids just basically have to try to behave themselves and go to bed on time! Reply

Estyr Zameret March 20, 2007

what about the other 248? Reply

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