Are there any published works on the scientific rationale for any of the 613 Mizvot?

For example: Handwashing: It only took the medical community did not deem it medically relevant until 2 centuries ago. The MD who did the first research was shunned by his colleagues and died before his discovery in obstetrical procedures with handwashing was saving women's lives was fully realized. The first national guidelines for handwashing in medicine were not published until the 80's https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK144018/

The reason I am asking this is a would like to start compiling not only rationale but scientific evidence as to the results of following or not following it, that show why following it is of benefit.

I am thinking of blogging on it actually and cannot find many books on the topic, although I have started reading the jewish philosophers who did categorize the 613 in numerous ways. Our science is always improving and so should the list of scientific rationale be expanding.

The hand washing example, demonstrates a powerful example of the loss of life involved in not following that one simple commandment! Amazing! Even more relevant considering the increasing prevalence and incidence of resistant bacteria like MRSA.

  • Thanks for editing. Is your question essentially whether anyone discusses the scientific benefits of following mitzvot?
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 3:36
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    Possible duplicate of About what were rabbis ahead of the times?
    – mbloch
    Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 9:02
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    Ritual handwashing in only required for bread! Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 10:45
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    @alberko it was established for kodshim much earlier. Shlomo I believe.
    – Heshy
    Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 11:40
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    @alberko no, for everyone who wanted to eat a shelamim
    – Heshy
    Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 12:16

1 Answer 1


The ספר החינוך / Sefer Hachinuch / Book of the Initiation (Wikipedia article, Sefaria text) includes scientific rationales for many commands. Here's an example.

  • Rambam too in More
    – kouty
    Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 9:54
  • @kouty, by all means post an answer
    – msh210
    Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 12:45
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    Did you mean Book of Education instead of Inauguration? Or was that intentional (and then I missed the point of inauguration)?
    – mbloch
    Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 14:04
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    Given that he writes in his introduction that it was meant for his son to read on Shabbos afternoons, I think “education” is a better translation here. cc @mbloch
    – DonielF
    Commented Feb 9, 2019 at 1:00
  • I dunno, @mbloch. To me, "education" is more "לימוד"-ish, while "חינוך" is more "initiating someone into life/Judaism", from the same root as "חנוכת המזבח". I'll edit it to "initiation".
    – msh210
    Commented Feb 9, 2019 at 18:40

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