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Rambam for Thursday, 18 Iyyar, 5782 - May 19, 2022

Rambam - Sefer HaMitzvos
As Divided for The Daily Learning Schedule

Introduction from the Sefer Hamitzvot for Youth

17 Iyyar, 5782 - May 18, 202219 Iyyar, 5782 - May 20, 2022


The Introduction to the Positive Mitzvot and
the Negative Mitzvot

by the author, Malka Touger


INTRODUCTION to SEFER HAMITZVOT
MITZVOT ASEH - (Positive Mitzvot)

"The Torah which Moses commanded us is the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob" (Deuteronomy 33:4)

This verse teaches us that from the moment a Jewish child is born, s/he acquires an infinitely abundant inheritance; the entire Torah belongs to him.

Our Sages (Talmud: Makkot 23b) explain that this verse also serves as the source, which teaches us the exact number of Mitvot.

The numerical value of the Hebrew word Torah, is 611.

Moses conveyed 611 Mitzvot, to the Jewish people.

The first two of the ten commandments - "I am the L-rd, your G-d," and "You shall have no other gods before Me," we heard from G-d, Himself, at Mount Sinai.

Thus, there are a total of 613 mitzvot which the Jewish people are commanded to observe.

There is a very close bond between these mitzvot, "the Torah which Moses commanded us," and Jewish children.

Before G-d gave the Torah to the Jewish people, He demanded guarantors for this valuable treasure with which He had promised to entrust them.

The only guarantors He was willing to accept were the Jewish children (Shir HaShirim Rabbah).

Thus, it is the Jewish children's study and observance of these mitzvot which ensure our people's continued connection with the Torah.

This set of books was composed with the intention of clearly outlining these mitzvot and describing them in a manner that will allow a youth or child to conceive of them in terms that he can relate to.

Our definition of the 613 mitzvot is based on the Rambam's Sefer HaMitzvot and we follow the order of that classic text.

Thus, (the printed set) is divided into two volumes:

Positive Mitzvot - deeds and thoughts which the Torah commands us to fulfill and accomplish; and Negative Mitzvot - deeds and thoughts which the Torah prohibits.

Our listing of each Mitzvah begins with two introductory lines:

  1. The first line gives the number and name for the Mitzvah.

  2. The translated Hebrew verse, from which the Mitzvah was derived.

(Sometimes, different commandments are derived from the same verse and, therefore, it will seem that the verse is repeated. Thus the first line which describes each Mitzvah should be read carefully.)

Afterwards, follows a description of the mitzvah and in many instances, a story, example, or explanation intended to provoke the readers thought.

These ideas were taken from various sources:

Sefer HaMitzvot, Sefer HaChinuch, various Medrashim, and the teachings of Jewish Sages and educators throughout the centuries.

We did not intend to give, the reasons for the mitzvot.

Rather, we want to stimulate the thinking process and give the opportunity to view the mitzvot (many of which deal with situations and circumstances foreign to contemporary life) in terms that are relevant and meaningful.

We did not choose these ideas with the intention of excluding others.

On the contrary, Torah has no limits and each mitzvah can be approached from many different perspectives.

It is our hope that the ideas we present will motivate our readers to search for and discover further insights.

In some places, where appropriate, a short introduction to the group of Mitzvot that follow is given. This introduction further clarifies the general perspective of the Torah in regard to a group of specific commandments.

It must be noted that many Positive Mitzvot correspond to Negative Mitzvot.

However, they are counted as two mitzvot because each contributes a necessary dimension.

For instance, the first Negative Mitzvah tells us that we must not believe in any other god or gods except for HaShem, while the first Positive Mitzvah tells us that we must believe in HaShem.

These two mitzvot complement each other.

Since it is possible to believe in HaShem and, also, believe that there are other gods, the first Negative Mitzvah tells us that "We should not have any other gods."

However, it is also possible that someone may not believe in G-d at all!

Therefore, the first Positive Mitzvah makes it clear that we must believe in HaShem. Thus, together, these two Mitzvot, one positive and one negative, form a complete unit.


INTRODUCTION TO THE NEGATIVE MITZVOT
Mitzvot Lo Taaseh

There are 365 "Negative Mitzvot" in the Torah.

These Mitzvot are called "Negative Mitzvot" because they deal with "prohibitions" - those things which the Torah forbids.

Many Negative Mitzvot correspond to Positive Mitzvot.

For instance, the first Positive Mitzvah tells us that we must believe in HaShem.

Since it is possible to believe in HaShem and, also believe that there are other gods, the first Negative Mitzvah tells us that "We should not have any other gods."

Together, these two Mitzvot, one positive and one negative, form a complete unit.

Negative Mitzvot teach us that we must not act in a certain way, or do certain things, or even, at times, say something in the wrong way.

Each Mitzvah has two introductory lines.

The first line gives the number (in bold) and a short description of the Mitzvah.

The second line quotes the verse (in blue) from where the Mitzvah was taken.

Following these introductory lines an explanation to the Mitzvah is given.

Sometimes, different commandments have their source in the same verse and, therefore, it may seem that the verse is repeated.

Thus the first line which describes each Mitzvah should be read carefully.

In some places, where appropriate, a short introduction to the group of Mitzvot that follow is given. This introduction further clarifies the general prospective of the Torah in regard to a group of specific commandments.


When it all began, Heaven was here on Earth.

The physical plane, more than any of the higher spiritual worlds, was the place where the Divine Presence yearned to be.

But Man, step by step, banished the Divine Presence from its home, with a tree of knowledge, with a man who murdered his brother, with all those things that human beings do...

Since Man chased it away, only Man can bring it back. And this began with Abraham, who proclaimed Oneness for all the world. And it ends with us. Our generation will bring Heaven back down to Earth.

From: Bringing Heaven Down to Earth by Tzvi Freeman - tzvif@aol.com



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