What is a Mitzvah? part 1

The word Mitzvah (Hebrew, מִצְוָה) occurs over 180 times in the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible. (The Masoretic text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Tanakh).

What exactly is a mitzvah? Is it a good deed, a habit, or a command from HaShem?

The 10 Commandments on the Court House Lawn in Roswell, NM

The 10 Commandments on the Court House Lawn in Roswell, NM

Rabbi and author Jack H. Bloom, PhD, asked online Conservative and Reform rabbi discussion lists how they would define mitzvah. One rabbi responded that “mitzvah, in Hebrew, means commandmentMitzveh, in Yiddish, means good deed, or even favor, as in ‘do me a mitzveh and get that down from the cupboard for me.’ It is interesting to note that the overall consensus of the rabbis was that there is no single word equivalent to mitzvah. One rabbi said that it is untranslatable, even as chutzpah is, thereby, making it a loan word from Hebrew. Another stated that it is an interpretation rather than a translation. Another concluded that mitzvot (the plural form of mitzvah) are opportunities God gives us to be partners with Him. And another determined that a mitzvah is a deliberate act which brings us closer to the presence of God; it is a “God Deed …as in ‘Doing a Mitzvah is doing a God Deed, or a deed for God.’”

Aren’t the above rabbinic summations of a seemingly simple word vast! John Parsons stated, “Mitzvot (plural of mitzvah) are the expressions of the will of God, and include not only an ‘order’ to do something, but also the moral imperative or obligation to do it. In Exodus 24:12, the Ten Commandments themselves are collectively referred to as mitzvot.”

The more we ponder each of these understandings, the more we begin to understand the richness and the depth of this word. Yes, the many nuances of mitzvah make it virtually impossible to translate the full meaning of mitzvah into one English word.

Simply put, a mitzvah is a literally a commandment, the fulfilling a commandment of HaShem. It is much more. HaShem did not intend that the mitzvot be a burden; instead, they are an opportunity to partner with the Holy One, to walk according to His commandments, to express our gratitude to Him by our actions. (The book of James further enlightens our understanding.)

The Holy One has given us a wonderful opportunity to partner with Him in expressing His love! Let’s make that be our focus.


“Thank You LORD for continually orchestrating the chessboard pieces of our lives. We love watching how YOU move on so many levels in our lives at one time. Help us never to expect Your interventions, but to thrill with each. We pray for those who are struggling. Touch them – bring them encouragement, bring Believers across their paths. Thank You for bold, strong young believers like Shai Sol; give her much favor! Bring Your peace to Your city, Jerusalem. Be with our country – turn our hearts to YOU! In the holy Name of our Messiah Yeshua, we pray.”

IMMEDIATE Prayer Requests:  

  1. Pray for Israel!
  2. Protection of the persecuted church.
  3. Pray for the emotional turmoil of many around us.
  4. Prayer for wisdom and favor as we encounter suffering people.
  5. Tere & her family: (her mom passed away Wednesday). Please pray for peace, love, unity.
  6. Phyllis DeLacio (her brother passed away). Please pray for strength and words of wisdom.
  7. Daughter (Norman G’s daughter): prayer for housing and direction
  8. Connie: healing!
  9. Pregnant daughter (Debbie in Houston): prayer that complications will absolve and that baby and mother will be healthy
  10. Marita (Israel): health and renewed vitality
  11. Cynthia (who’s relocated to Louisiana, near family): favor for a job, healing for her sister, godly relationships
  12. PJ: total body healing.
  13. Jobs: Pamela, Norman G., PJ, Natan and his new military assignment.
  15. REVIVAL in Arizona
  16. FRIENDS: many of our friends are hurting physically and emotionally.
  17. FAMILIES & MARRIAGES: strong, healthy and Christ-centered; spiritual, mental, and emotional healing. God will bring families together. Spirit of division will cease. Family relationships healed! Family members who are far off will return and serve God.
  18. PRAYER FOR OUR SOLDIERS: spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally whole!
  19. Protection of believers all over the world.
  20. Encouragement for the heavy-hearted
  21. Paul: total restoration including walking.
  22. Dan & Sara (Art’s son and daughter in law): come together spiritually and emotionally – wisdom and favor for Art.
  23. Bevin (Les’a’s friend’s husband): physical and emotional healing.
  24. Jessica (Lori & Jim’s daughter): return to the God of her youth – the God of her parents.
  25. John: health and vibrancy