Monday, November 15, 2010

Distilling the Law

Six hundred and thirteen commandments were given
to Moses. . . .

came and brought them down to eleven; as it
is written:

Lord, who shall sojourn in Thy tabernacle: He
that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteous-
ness. . . [Ps. 15:1-5].

Isaiah came and brought them down to six; as it is

He that walketh righteously and speaketh up-
rightly [33:15].

Micah came and brought them down to three; as it
is written:

It hath been told thee, O man, what is good....
Only to do justly, to love mercy and to walk
humbly with thy God [6:8].

Amos came and brought them down to one: as it is

For thus saith the Lord to the House of Israel,
‘Seek me and live’” [5:41],

[Cited in Nahum Glatzer, The Judaic Tradition (Beacon, 1969)].

[Donna: I think the numbers are more applicable in Hebrew. Nevertheless, this shows the tradition of trying to distill the essence of the law into its most succinct form. We are the beneficiaries of that tradition through the question Jesus answered in Matthew 22:36-40.]

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