What is a Mitzvah?

Boy standing against chalkboard

The literal meaning of the Hebrew word mitzvah is commandment, but the generally accepted sense is that of a good deed. The emphasis is on deeds—not on positive thoughts or wishes, but on conscious acts of empathy and kindness. To help you learn more about what it means to do a mitzvah, we've posted some book suggestions, activitiy ideas, discussion questions, and videos below. Click one of the titles to get started!

READ

Brothers reading on blanket in park

To find books about a specific mitzvah, visit our Books page and sort by “value.”

DO

Sisters with Dad and Tzedakah boxes

Here are some mitzvot (plural of mitzvah) your child could undertake, along with the commandment each act of kindness fulfills:

Giving food or clothing to the homeless
(Respecting those in need)

Passing along cherished toys or games
(Do not covet)

Recycling or composting
(Do not destroy needlessly)

Sharing toys with a friend or sibling
(Peace in the home)

Making soup for a neighbor with the sniffles
(Visiting the sick)

Inviting a new classmate over for a playdate
(Welcoming guests)

Walking the dog or feeding a pet fish
(Being kind to animals)

You can download your very own “mitzvah chart” by clicking here. Or create your own by listing values that are important to your family and matching them with actions you and your child can take to exemplify those values.

DISCUSS

What makes something a mitzvah?
What are mitzvot our family can do together?
How can we show kindness to others?
How can we make the world a better place?

WATCH

Let Grover and Shalom Sesame help your kids understand what doing a mitzvah is all about.

MORE

Are you interested in learning more about a specific mitzvot like returning lost objects or being a good friend? Search our blog for more activity and story ideas or check out an episode of Shaboom!.

As always, keep the conversation going with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.