OU’s Rabbi Jack Publishes ‘Taryag Companion’ Book on 613 Mitzvot

18 May 2012


The Torah delineates 613 mitzvot, or commandments, of which 248 are positive, 365 are negative, 271 can be performed today, and 26 apply only in Israel. Rabbi Jack Abramowitz has studied each and every one of those mitzvot and in his breezy and unique writing style, makes their details available to all in his latest book, The Taryag Companion, which is based on the Taryag feature on the OU Torah section of www.ou.org.

Rabbi Abramowitz is Torah Content Editor for the OU website, and in this position has developed a wide range of programs, including Taryag, an expression which refers to the 613 commandments. Rabbi Jack, as he is known, provides commentary for the online program, which has to date covered approximately 400 commandments; these commentaries serve as the basis for the book.

Previously, Rabbi Abramowitz published The Nach Yomi Companion, volumes 1 and 2, to accompany the daily programs in the two-year cycle of a daily chapter of the Hebrew Bible’s (Tanach) sections on Prophets and Writings; The Shnayim Mikra Companion, for another OU Torah program on the weekly Torah reading; and The Tzniyus Book, on the Jewish concept of modesty in dress and behavior.

Seemingly inexhaustible, Rabbi Jack was not satisfied with just discussing the mitzvot, as specified by Maimonides (the Rambam), but has included the emendations of Nachmanides (the Ramban), concerning differences in their counts of the mitzvot.

He also includes the Seven Rabbinic Mitzvot (such as the obligation to recite Hallel); the Seven Universal or “Noachide” laws (such as the prohibition of murder); the Six Constant Mitzvot (such as to know there is a God); the 39 melachot (categories of labor) prohibited on Shabbat; an explanation of the 19 blessings of the daily Shmoneh Esrei (which means 18); the 24 books of the Tanach; the 63 Tractates of the Talmud; and more.

All and all, the book comes in at 694 pages.

“Rabbi Abramowitz has a remarkable track record of producing excellent materials on a wide range of Jewish topics…(that are) eminently readable and spiritually uplifting,” says Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, Executive Vice President, Emeritus of the Orthodox Union. OU Managing Director Rabbi Steven Burg commends Rabbi Jack’s “witty writing style that engages as well as educates.” And Rabbi Barry Kornblau, Director of Member Services of the Rabbinical Council of America, lauds Rabbi Abramowitz as “one of our generation’s finest, most prolific and most creative disseminators of Torah.”

Rabbi Jack is modest about his accomplishments. “I don’t feel like a teacher,” he said. “I consider myself a student. I study the material and then I share my notes with whoever else cares to read them.” He is busy with other OU Torah programs under his direction, including Mishna Yomit (a daily podcast of two mishnayot per day) and HaShoneh Halachos (a daily email featuring two laws per day from the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, the abridged code of Jewish law).

The Taryag Companion is available through OU Press (hardcover: softcover: . The hardcover edition is $35, softcover $24.

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