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These are the things that have no limits.

A person enjoys their fruit in this world,
and lives upon their principal in the world to come:

• honoring father and mother;
• performing acts of love and kindness;
• arriving at the house of study punctually
  mornings as well as evenings;

• showing hospitality to guests;
• visiting the sick;
• providing for a couple about to marry;
• seeing to the needs of the deceased;
• praying with devotion;
• and being a peacemaker.
• Studying Torah leads to all the others.

This list of ten mizzvot (literally, “commandments” but colloquially, “good deeds”) comes from the Mishna, a six-volume rabbinic compilation of the laws of the Torah that was promulgated by Rabbi Yehuda Ha-nasi in approximately 200 C.E.{In the Jewish world,the terms B.C. (“before Christ”) and A.D. (“in the year of our Lord”) are not commonly used. Instead we use the terms B.C.E. (“before the common era”) and C.E. (“common era”).} Some scholars think of these as a kind of “Rabbinic Ten Commandments.”

It should be noted that this list of mizzvot—that we recite at the very beginning of the day—focuses on the ways that each of us can improve the world, primarily by the concern we show for our fellow-human beings. By devoting ourselves to acts of love and kindness, showing hospitality to one another, visiting the sick, seeing to the needs of those who are deceased—who can no longer repay our kindness—and being peacemakers, we ourselves live more fulfilling lives and we leave the world a better place than we found it.

The last of these mizzvot, namely studying Torah, is described as leading to all the others. We are reminded of the Roman soldier who came to Rabbi Shammai and said that he would become Jewish if the rabbi could teach him the entire Torah while standing on one foot.{The Hebrew phrase “on one foot” is "al regel achat". But this phrase might also mean “covered by one rule.” The soldier might, therefore, have been asking if Shammai could teach him one rule that was the basis of all of Judaism}  Shammai, thinking he was being mocked, angrily dismissed the soldier from his presence. The soldier then went to Rabbi Hillel, who stood on one foot and said, “What is hateful to yourself do not do unto your neighbor. That is the entire Torah; all the rest is commentary. Now go and study the commentary!”

The study of Torah is meant to bring us to acts of caring and concern for one another, according to Hillel—and according to another gentle teacher (Joshua of Nazareth) who lived a generation later and who paraphrased Hillel’s teaching with the words, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”

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