Negative Commandments

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Dear Rabbi Simon,
I notice in the Bible the terms “I command” and “I forbid” are mentioned numerous times. What is the difference between not doing something you are commanded and doing something you are forbidden. Especially in terms of punishment.
Many thanks,
Barri

Dear Barri
The phrases you cite actually do not appear in the Torah in the original Hebrew very often. However, it is certainly true that the 613 commandments of the Torah may be divided into 248 Positive Commandments (ie, “thou shalt”) and 365 Negative Commandments (“thou shalt not”).
In general, the Torah does not prescribe a punishment for neglecting a Positive Commandment (the two exceptions are circumcision and eating of the Paschal lamb—of which the latter is not available in the present era). The Negative Commandments have a variety of consequences/punishments set out in the Torah. However, one earns reward (primarily in the Next World) both through fulfilling the positive and avoiding the negative commandments.
I hope this is helpful.
Rabbi Rashi Simon

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Ask the Rabbi: Quinoa on Pesach
Dear Rabbi Simon,
Where do you stand on quinoa (and the kitniyot ban) for Pesach?
Many thanks,
Tzippy
***
Dear Tzippy,
In line with other American authorities, I am in favour of quinoa. Although I reject completely the voices (mostly from Israel) seeking to abolish the ban on kitniyot entirely, IMO we do not need to include in the prohibition pseudo-grains that were unknown in the Old World until modern times. Best to buy with a Pesach hechsher though, to be free of any possible wheat contamination.
Rabbi Rashi Simon
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