The Talmud (Makkot 23B)and the Zohar (1:170B - unverified English translation here) say that the 248 positive commandments correspond to the 248 limbs of the human body. (The Mishna (Ohalot 1:8) lists the 248 Halachic limbs). The Talmud also says that the 365 Negative commandments correspond to the days of the year.

The Zohar adds that the 365 negative commandments also correspond to the 365 sinews in the human body (See Yonatan Ben Uziel Bereshit 1:27), and connects them to the days of the year.

R' Chaim Vital, in Shaar HaKavanot (Shaar 1, Part 1) says that "Each of the 248 spiritual limbs gets its nourishment from a particular mitzvah that corresponds to that limb. When a person fails to perform that particular mitzvah, the corresponding limb will lack its proper nourishment..." (translation from here)

Is there any source which tells us which limb (and/or sinew) each Mitzvah corresponds to?

As an example, the Zohar referenced above (1:170B), connects Gid Hanasheh (sciatic nerve), one of the 365 sinews, to the prohibition of eating on Tisha B'av.

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    Is there a specific statement that implies that there is a 1-to-1 mapping of each mitzva to a body part?
    – WAF
    Commented Oct 2, 2011 at 17:10
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    @WAF: The Zohar referenced specifically connects the Gid Hanasheh (a sinew) to Eating on Tisha B'av. This seems to imply a connection between specific limbs/sinews and specific commandments. I'll look around and see if I can find anything else
    – Menachem
    Commented Oct 2, 2011 at 17:53
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    Menachem, @yoel - thanks. Am I the only one who finds it funny that the gid hanashe is not connected to the prohibition on eating the _ gid hanashe_? Bentzion - it may be difficult, but it would be worth it to finally figure out whose minyan hamitzvos was right - Ramba"m, Ramba"n, S'ma"g. . .
    – WAF
    Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 13:20
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    How can it connect with the prohibition of eating on Tisha B'Av if that's only a d'Rabbanan? I don't understand why it doesn't compare it to the prohibition of eating the Gid HaNasheh.
    – DonielF
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 12:30
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    Since you quote it in a discussion of which mitzvah each sinew corresponds to, that was left very ambiguous. Perhaps you should edit to clarify. Be that as it may, why Gid HaNasheh over any other issur achilah, like basar b'chalav, or treifah, or neveilah?
    – DonielF
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 3:23

5 Answers 5


There is a little known Chassidic text published in 1834 entitled Pri Yitzchak that details all 613 Mitzvot and the corresponding limbs for positive mitzvot and 365 Gidim for negative commandments. It has not been translated from the Hebrew. It is a very sophisticated work.

He uses the list of halachic limbs listed in the Mishna, and uses the Rambam's list of the 613 Mitzvot.

The Sefer was written by R' Yitzchak ben R' Tzvi Hersh, the Rav of the city of Shkod(?) and published by his son, Shabtai Sheptel, some years after his passing.

The first 40 pages are available for free online, thanks to Otzar Hachachma (The other 20 are also available, but must be paid for).

In the introduction, R' Yitzchak lays out the guidelines he used to develop this work. At the end of the introduction he says that while some of the Mitzvot and their corresponding limbs were found in various Sefarim, the majority of them were not. He decided which Mitzvot corresponded to which limbs, and as such, the list should not be considered definitive. The intent of the Sefer is to be used as a memory aid, increase the readers love and fear of G-d, and so the reader can realize how the soul of the Jewish people is connected to the whole Torah.

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    @Menachem: sounds like it might be this one (catalog entry from the Rebbe's library). It doesn't seem to be online yet, though.
    – Alex
    Commented Dec 5, 2011 at 5:55
  • @Alex: was this published by the same person?: hebrewbooks.org/24345
    – Menachem
    Commented Dec 5, 2011 at 12:14
  • david, welcome to Judaism.SE, and thanks very much for this excellent reference, which we may never have unearthed if not for you! Please consider registering your account, to give you access to more of the site's features.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Dec 5, 2011 at 15:03
  • @Menachem: could be, but I don't know. It would be odd of him to have had one sefer published in the Ukraine and another in Lithuania, only a year apart.
    – Alex
    Commented Dec 5, 2011 at 16:17
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    david @Alex It can be found online. See here judaism.stackexchange.com/q/17698/759
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 15, 2012 at 5:28

The classic Sefer Chareidim by R' Elazar Azikri (d.1600) catalogs all the mitzvos according to body parts. (R' Elazar Azikri was also the author of the poem, Yedid Nefesh.) An abbreviated version, Kitzur Sefer Chareidim, was written by R' Avraham Danzig, author of the Chayei Adam. The sefer does not attempt to establish a precise one-for-one match for each limb and sinew. It lists the limbs only in a very broad sense, eyes, arms, legs, and so on, and then lists the various mitzvos (Biblical and Rabbinic) that are performed with that part of the body.

Sefer Chareidim happens to be one of my favorite seforim. I can't recommend it highly enough.

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    In my understanding, this is a wrong answer. Sefer Sharedim does not catalog the mitzvot, only sorts the Mitzvot by body parts they are performed with. Like "Positive Mitzvot related to heart or to hands."
    – Al Berko
    Commented Aug 25, 2018 at 17:17

Biblical mitzvos are in bold. Items that are minhagim or otherwise are not mitzvos are listed for completeness but are not bold. -- Each is followed by the corresponding (set of) body part(s)

  • 30 days of blowing shofar (in Elul) -- 30 in the feet
  • 10 offerings brought on Rosh Hashana -- 10 in the ankles
  • 2 approaches to the aron(?) -- 2 in the shins
  • 5 people called up to the Torah -- 5 in the knees
  • 1 day of Rosh Hashana -- 1 in the thighs
  • 3 types of shofar sound -- 3 in the hips(?)
  • 11 sounds blown with the musaf -- 11 ribs
  • 9 b'rachos in the amida of Rosh Hashana -- 9 in the arms
  • 30 verses recited in that amida -- 30 in the palms
  • 18 b'rachos in the daily amida -- 18 vertebrae
  • 9 shofar sounds with the daily offering -- 9 in the head
  • 8 shofar sounds with two bowings -- 8 in the neck
  • 5 books of Torah -- 5 cavities
  • 6 books of Mishna -- 6 in the heart

Disclaimers: This might be a partial list, a complete confound, or not what you're looking for. Some numbers may need to be doubled for dual limbs. The above most likely does not add up to 248. It comes from מחזור רבא - נוסח ספרד - ראש השנה, published by שי למורא, on page 198 in my edition. It is part of an inserted piyut in the k'dusha of musaf. A very similar list appears in a number of other machzorim (example) and some translation assistance was provided by this machzor.

Some of the items on this list are mitzvos, even if it is intended for a purpose other than explication of the statement of Rav Simla'i in Makos that you linked. If they don't count toward the general total then some body parts must double count.

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    This seems to be pretty specific to Rosh Hashana, and comprised mostly of non-mitzvos.
    – HodofHod
    Commented Oct 3, 2011 at 8:02

The Luz bone corresponds to the Mitzvah of Melaveh Malka. (Wikipedia quotes the Kaf haChaim (300:1-2) as saying this, although I thought that this was first stated earlier than him)

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    If the 248 bones are supposed to correspond to the 248 mitzvos ase, then this would seem to imply m'lave malka is one of the 248 mitzvos ase. Is there a mone hamitzvos with that view?
    – msh210
    Commented Dec 2, 2011 at 8:02
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    The Kaf Hachaim gathers earlier sources. If you look in the Kaf Hachaim itself you'll see that he is quoting much earlier sources when he says it. You'll also see that he doesn't say that Luz bone corresponds to the Mitzvah of Melaveh Malka, as much as he says that one of the reasons to eat Melaveh Malka is that the Luz bone only benefits from food eaten on Motzei Shabbat. (He also connects this to why the Luz bone is indestructible, since it didn't benefit from Adam's sin): hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14421&pgnum=187 @msh210
    – Menachem
    Commented Dec 2, 2011 at 14:56
  • I saw earlier this week that the Arukh HaShulhan also mentions the Luz bone regarding Melaveh Malka, but also gives the possibility of another. I don't have time to look it up, if someone else could, and edit it into the answer, that would be great, thnx. Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 5:45
  • the luz bone is not part of the 248 or 365 Commented Aug 18, 2013 at 5:45
  • @trying Why wouldn't the coccyx be one of the "5 vertebrae around the cavities"?
    – DonielF
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 12:33

In Shoftim, on witnesses and courts, Deut. 19:15 about 2 witnesses needed, the masters of the mishna quote "the walls of his house and the members of his household". The walls of his house are the walls of his heart." Then Hezekiah turned his heart to the wall and prayed to Gd." Yeshayahu 38:2 The sternum and top 2 ribs around the collarbone are referred to as the key to the heart (alter). The term "key of the heart" is to be explained by the inclusion of the two superior ribs in the morphological description of the breastbone: these two superior ribs are shorter and rounder, and their junction with the breastbone actually resembles a key. Other chest ribs are referred to as the inner courtyard when comparing to the Beit Hamikdash. (Kabbalah Secrets.com - the Future Holy Temple and The Human Body). Accordingly, the rabbis of the Mishnah enumerate only 11 ribs instead of 12, the upper being already included in the "key of the heart." (encyclopedia).The bones are referred to as the walls of his house, and metaphorically built by the mochin (chochma,brain )and are white. (Kabbalah on line: The Bones of the Matter.

The Rabbis have taught that Hezekiah prayed from the walls of his heart. The heart has two ventricles. One receives blood from all the 248 limbs and one sends out oxygenated blood to them. Based on The Colors of Blood by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the red cells (gevurah) oxygenate and nourish while the white (chesed) fight infection and correlate to the 365 negative mitzvot. There is a wall between these two parts and it was to this wall that Hezekiah turned to test his limbs to see if they had sinned. The body of a person is called his "house", because it houses his holy soul and the individual 248 limbs are "the members of his household". The factor determining what part of the body is a limb is whether or not it has a bone at its core AND flesh surrounding it.

Encyclopedia Judaica: Anatomy from the Jewish Virtual Library: Great source on this topic

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