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Thursday, 4 Adar 5773 / February 14, 2013

Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

De'ot - Chapter Six, De'ot - Chapter Seven, Talmud Torah - Chapter One

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De'ot - Chapter Six

Halacha 1

It is natural for a man's character and actions to be influenced by his friends and associates and for him to follow the local norms of behavior. Therefore, he should associate with the righteous and be constantly in the company of the wise, so as to learn from their deeds. Conversely, he should keep away from the wicked who walk in darkness, so as not to learn from their deeds.

This is [implied by] Solomon's statement (Proverbs 13:20): "He who walks with the wise will become wise, while one who associates with fools will suffer." Similarly, [Psalms 1:1] states: "Happy is the man who has not followed the advice of the wicked."

A person who lives in a place where the norms of behavior are evil and the inhabitants do not follow the straight path should move to a place where the people are righteous and follow the ways of the good.

If all the places with which he is familiar and of which he hears reports follow improper paths, as in our times, or if he is unable to move to a place where the patterns of behavior are proper, because of [the presence of] bands of raiding troops, or for health reasons, he should remain alone in seclusion as [Eichah 3:28] states: "Let him sit alone and be silent."

If they are wicked and sinful and do not allow him to reside there unless he mingle with them and follow their evil behavior, he should go out to caves, thickets, and deserts [rather than] follow the paths of sinners as [Jeremiah 9:1] states: "Who will give me a lodging place for wayfarers, in the desert."

Halacha 2

It is a positive commandment to cleave unto the wise and their disciples in order to learn from their deeds as [Deuteronomy 10:20] states: "and you will cling to Him."

Our Sages [questioned the nature of this command for] is it possible for man to cling to the Divine Presence? They [resolved the difficulty,] explaining this commandment to mean: Cleave unto the wise and their disciples.

Therefore, one should try to marry the daughter of a Torah Sage and marry his daughter to a Torah Sage, eat and drink with Sages, do business on behalf of Sages, and associate with them in all possible ways as [Deuteronomy 11:22] states: "to cling to Him."

Similarly, our Sages have directed [us], saying: "Sit in the dust of their feet and drink in their words thirstily."

Halacha 3

Each man is commanded to love each and every one of Israel as himself as [Leviticus 19:18] states: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

Therefore, one should speak the praises of [others] and show concern for their money just as he is concerned with his own money and seeks his own honor.

Whoever gains honor through the degradation of a colleague does not have a share in the world to come.

Halacha 4

Loving a convert who has come to nestle under the wings of the Shechinah [fulfills] two positive commandments: one for he is [also] included among the "neighbors" [whom we are commanded to love] and one because he is a convert and the Torah (Deuteronomy 10:19) states: "and you shall love the converts."

[Thus, God] has commanded us concerning the love of a convert just as He has commanded us concerning loving Himself as [Deuteronomy 11:1] states: "and you shall love God, your Lord." The Holy One, blessed be He, Himself, loves converts as [Deuteronomy 10:18] states: "and He loves converts."

Halacha 5

Whoever hates a [fellow] Jew in his heart transgresses a Torah prohibition as [Leviticus 19:17] states: "Do not hate your brother in your heart." One is not [liable for] lashes for violating this prohibition because no deed is involved.

The Torah only warns [us] against hating in [our] hearts. However, a person who beats a colleague or insults him, although he is not permitted to do so, does not violate [the prohibition,] "you shall not hate."

Halacha 6

When one person wrongs another, the latter should not remain silent and despise him as [II Samuel 13:22] states concerning the wicked: "And Avshalom did not speak to Amnon neither good, nor bad for Avshalom hated Amnon."

Rather, he is commanded to make the matter known and ask him: "Why did you do this to me?", "Why did you wrong me regarding that matter?" as [Leviticus 19:17] states: "You shall surely admonish your colleague."

If, afterwards, [the person who committed the wrong] asks [his colleague] to forgive him, he must do so. A person should not be cruel when forgiving [as implied by Genesis 20:17]: "And Abraham prayed to God..."

Halacha 7

It is a mitzvah for a person who sees that his fellow Jew has sinned or is following an improper path [to attempt] to correct his behavior and to inform him that he is causing himself a loss by his evil deeds as [Leviticus 19:17] states: "You shall surely admonish your colleague."

A person who rebukes a colleague - whether because of a [wrong committed] against him or because of a matter between his colleague and God - should rebuke him privately. He should speak to him patiently and gently, informing him that he is only making these statements for his colleague's own welfare, to allow him to merit the life of the world to come.

If he accepts [the rebuke], it is good; if not, he should rebuke him a second and third time. Indeed, one is obligated to rebuke a colleague who does wrong until the latter strikes him and tells him: "I will not listen."

Whoever has the possibility of rebuking [sinners] and fails to do so is considered responsible for that sin, for he had the opportunity to rebuke the [sinners].

Halacha 8

At first, a person who admonishes a colleague should not speak to him harshly until he becomes embarrassed as [Leviticus 19:17] states: "[You should]... not bear a sin because of him." This is what our Sages said: Should you rebuke him to the point that his face changes [color]? The Torah states: "[You should]... not bear a sin because of him."

From this, [we learn that] it is forbidden for a person to embarrass a [fellow] Jew. How much more so [is it forbidden to embarrass him] in public. Even though a person who embarrasses a colleague is not [liable for] lashes on account of him, it is a great sin. Our Sages said: "A person who embarrasses a colleague in public does not have a share in the world to come."

Therefore, a person should be careful not to embarrass a colleague - whether of great or lesser stature - in public, and not to call him a name which embarrasses him or to relate a matter that brings him shame in his presence.

When does the above apply? In regard to matters between one man and another. However, in regard to spiritual matters, if [a transgressor] does not repent [after being admonished] in private, he may be put to shame in public and his sin may be publicized. He may be subjected to abuse, scorn, and curses until he repents, as was the practice of all the prophets of Israel.

Halacha 9

It is pious behavior if a person who was wronged by a colleague would rather not admonish him or mention the matter at all because the person who wronged him was very boorish or because he was mentally disturbed, [provided] he forgives him totally without bearing any feelings of hate or admonishing him. The Torah is concerned only with those who carry feelings of hate.

Halacha 10

A person is obligated to show great care for orphans and widows because their spirits are very low and their feelings are depressed. This applies even if they are wealthy. We are commanded to [show this attention] even to a king's widow and his orphans as [implied by Exodus 22:21]: "Do not mistreat any widow or orphan."

How should one deal with them? One should only speak to them gently and treat them only with honor. One should not cause pain to their persons with [overbearing] work or aggravate their feelings with harsh words and [one should] show more consideration for their financial interests than for one's own. Anyone who vexes or angers them, hurts their feelings, oppresses them, or causes them financial loss transgresses this prohibition. Surely this applies if one beats them or curses them.

Even though [a person who violates] this prohibition is not [liable for] lashes, the retribution one suffers for its [violation] is explicitly stated in the Torah (ibid. 22:23): "I will display My anger and slay you with the sword." There is a covenant between them and He who spoke and created the world that whenever they cry out because they have been wronged, they will be answered as [ibid.:22] states: "When they cry out to Me, I will surely hear their cry."

When does the above apply? When one causes them suffering for one's own purposes. However, it is permitted for a teacher to cause them suffering while teaching them Torah, or a craft, or in order to train them in proper behavior. Nevertheless, he should not treat them in the same manner as he treats others, but rather make a distinction with regard to them and treat them with gentility, great mercy, and honor for [Proverbs 22:22] states: "For God will take up their cause."

This applies to both those orphaned from their father and those orphaned from their mother. Until when are they considered orphans in the context [of this mitzvah]? Until they no longer need a mature individual to support, instruct, and care for them and are able to see to all their own needs by themselves, like other adults.

Commentary Halacha 1

In the first five chapters, the Rambam dealt with morals in terms of the individual himself; what man should do to develop proper character. In this chapter, he turns to behavior within the context of society; how man should treat his fellow men.

The first halachah of the chapter joins these two components of the ethical whole. In Chapter 5, the Rambam painted a picture of the ideal personality - the wise man. In this halachah, he points out the benefits a person can reap by associating with these individuals.

It is natural for a man's character and actions - As the Rambam emphasizes in Sefer HaMitzvot (positive mitzvah 8), man's ethical makeup is a combination of character and action.

to be influenced by his friends and associates and for him to follow the local norms of behavior. - People are, by nature, social beings and there is a constant give and take between the individual and the people with whom he associates (See Guide To the Perplexed, Vol. I, Chapter 31).

Therefore, - This sociological truism implies the following course of action.

he should associate with the righteous and be constantly in the company of the wise, - Avot 1:4 advises: "Let your house be a meeting place for the wise." See the following halachah.

so as to learn from their deeds. - In Halachah 2, the Rambam states that it is a mitzvah to associate with the righteous, while here he describes the need for such association as morally compelling. Note our commentary to that halachah.

Conversely, he should keep away from the wicked who walk in darkness, so as not to learn from their deeds. - Avot 1:7 states: "Stay away from a bad neighbor and do not become a friend of the wicked." (See also the Rambam's commentary to that Mishnah.)

This is [implied by] Solomon's statement (Proverbs 13:20): "He who walks with the wise will become wise, - Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezar (Chapter 25) explains this verse with an analogy of a person who spends time in a perfumery. Some of the pleasant fragrance attaches itself to him, even though he does not purchase anything.

while one who associates with fools will suffer." - Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezar (ibid.) continues the analogy: Conversely, when a person spends time in a tannery, the unpleasant odor of the tannery imparts a foul smell even though he did not take anything from there.

Similarly, [Psalms 1:1] states: "Happy is the man who has not followed the advice of the wicked." - The verse from Proverbs supports the previously stated concept that a person is influenced by his environment. The verse from Psalms introduces the concept which follows; that bad company should be avoided.

A person who lives in a place where the norms of behavior are evil and the inhabitants do not follow the straight path should move to a place where the people are righteous - Likkutei Sichot, Vol. XXIII, states that this restriction does not apply to a person who settles in a community for the expressed purpose of spreading Torah. He need not worry about being influenced by his surroundings, because, to borrow a concept from Yoreh De'ah, Chapter 69, out of context, "one who is preoccupied with giving will not receive."

and follow the ways of the good. - See the commentary to Chapter 1, Halachah 4.

In Iggeret HaShmad, the Rambam states that even when the difference between the two is relative, "a person who fears God is obligated to move from a country whose norms are not so proper to a good country."

If all the places with which he is familiar and of which he hears reports follow improper paths, as in our times, - One can only guess what the Rambam would say about our present society.

or if he is unable to move to a place where the patterns of behavior are proper, because of [the presence of] bands of raiding troops, or for health reasons, - The Rambam apparently does not suggest risking one's life to make such a move. However, note the passage from Iggeret HaShmad quoted below.

he should remain alone in seclusion - The obligation to find a proper society is not offered simply as a suggestion. The Rambam makes it a firm directive, incumbent upon us even if great difficulty must be endured to ensure that the improper society be avoided.

as [Eichah 3:28] states: "Let him sit alone and be silent."

If they are wicked and sinful and do not allow him to reside there unless he mingle with them and follow their evil behavior, he should go out to caves, thickets, - This phrase is borrowed out of context, as is frequently the Rambam's practice, from I Samuel 13:6: "and the people hid in the caves and crannies."

and deserts [rather than] follow the paths of sinners - In Iggeret HaShmad, the Rambam also discusses this question, albeit in connection with more extreme circumstances, addressing himself to people who live in countries whose governments do not allow them to follow Torah and mitzvot:

The advice which I give myself... my friends, and all those who seek counsel from me is to leave those places and go to a place where he can establish his faith and follow the Torah without interference or fear...
He should try to do this even if it involves danger... It has already been expressed by the prophets that whoever dwells among the nonbelievers becomes like them as implied by the statements of King David of blessed memory (I Samuel 26:19): "You have driven me away from dwelling in the heritage of God, telling me, 'Go serve other gods;' i.e., [King David] equated his living among the gentiles with idol worship.

as [Jeremiah 9:1] states: "Who will give me a lodging place for wayfarers, in the desert." - The conclusion of this verse: "I will leave my people and go from them for they are all adulterers, a faithless band," demonstrates that the Rambam was not merely borrowing Biblical phraseology, but rather, quoting a verse that addresses itself specifically to the problem of living within a corrupt society.

Commentary Halacha 2

It is a positive commandment - Sefer HaMitzvot (positive mitzvah 6) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 434) include this as one of the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

In Halachah 1, the Rambam described the association with the wise as a moral imperative and, here, he states that it is a Torah commandment. We saw a similar pattern in Chapter 1. First, he outlined his theory of the middle path of behavior as the optimal moral position. Only afterwards, did he equate it with the commandment to "walk in His ways."

This approach demonstrates that the Torah does not impose a Divine Will upon man which he cannot grasp or understand. Rather, it reflects rules and principles that can be conceived by human thought and explained in terms of human nature. Thus, the workings of the Halachah can be seen as having been instituted as an organic part of the makeup of the world at large and man in particular. (See the Guide to the Perplexed, Vol. III, Chapter 48.)

to cleave unto the wise and their disciples in order to learn from their deeds - as explained in the previous halachah.

as [Deuteronomy 10:20] states: "and you will cling to Him."

Our Sages - Ketubot 111b, Sifri, Deuteronomy 11:22.

[questioned the nature of this command for] is it possible for man to cling to the Divine Presence? - Since He transcends the reaches of our emotions and intellect, the commandment cannot be interpreted literally.

They [resolved the difficulty,] explaining this commandment to mean: Cleave unto the wise and their disciples. - This interpretation does not contradict the simple meaning of the verse. Since the Sages fulfill the command "Know God in all your ways" (See Chapter 3, Halachah 3), they are in constant connection with Him. Hence, a person can also establish a bond with his Creator by "clinging" to them. See also Tanya, Chapter 2.

Therefore, - i.e., implied by "cleaving" is that

one should try to marry the daughter of a Torah Sage and marry his daughter to a Torah Sage, - Pesachim 49a states: "At all times, a man should sell all his possessions [in order to] marry a daughter of a wise man and marry off his daughter to a wise man."

eat and drink with Sages, - Berachot 64a states: "Anyone who partakes of a meal at which a Torah Sage is present is considered like one who has benefited from the radiance of the Divine Presence."

do business on behalf of Sages, - i.e., the Torah Sage may be a silent partner who puts up a share of the capital in a partnership and the other person takes care of the actual buying and selling.

The Rambam harshly criticizes individuals who try to derive material benefit from their Torah knowledge (See Hilchot Talmud Torah 3:10-11). Therefore, though Ketubot (ibid.), the source for these statements, also mentions "granting a Sage benefit from one's possessions," the Rambam omits this clause. Nevertheless, he does allow one to do business on behalf of a Sage as described above. See also Hilchot Talmud Torah 6:10.

and associate with them in all possible ways as [Deuteronomy 11:22] states: "to cling to Him."

Similarly, our Sages - Avot 1:4

have directed [us], saying: "Sit in the dust of their feet and drink in their words thirstily."

Commentary Halacha 3

Each man is commanded - Sefer HaMitzvot (positive mitzvah 206) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 243) count this as one of the Torah's 613 commandments.

to love each and every one of Israel - In Hilchot Eivel (14:1, quoted in its entirety below), the Rambam states that the deeds associated with the mitzvah of loving one's fellow Jew apply to "your brother in Torah and mitzvot."

The Hagahot Maimoni (See also Avot D'Rabbi Natan 16:5) specifically states that the mitzvah only applies to such people and that the wicked who do not observe the Torah must be hated. Nevertheless, the fact that the Rambam's statements here do not mention such a restriction, leads to the conclusion that they should be interpreted simply, i.e., that the mitzvah of loving a fellow Jew applies to everyone. Some of the privileges associated with that mitzvah, however, may only be afforded to those who are observant.

[Yad Malachi (Klallei HaRambam 6) states that the Rambam does not rely on statements made later in the Mishneh Torah to explain those made previously. Thus, the obligation to love all Jews which is stated in this halachah should not be interpreted as limited by his statements in Hilchot Eivel. Note also the Maharam Shik (Taryag Mitzvot) who states that since the commandment "Love your neighbor as yourself" is applied even in regard to a wicked man awaiting execution (See Hilchot Sanhedrin 15:1), we can conclude that it is applicable to every Jew.]

Note Tanya (Chapter 32) which explains that there is no contradiction between the mitzvah of loving every Jew and the commandment to hate the sinners. One must love them as people and hate their deeds. See also the conclusion of Iggeret HaShmad:

It is not proper to drive away those who desecrate the Sabbath and to despise them. Rather, one should draw them close and encourage them to perform mitzvot.

as himself - In his commentary on the Torah, the Ramban questions how one can possibly have the same degree of love for another person as one has for himself. However, since all Jews share the same Godly essence, when one relates to that essence, there is really no difference between loving another person and oneself (Tanya, ibid.).

as [Leviticus 19:18] states: "Love your neighbor as yourself." - The question often raised in connection with this mitzvah is: How can one command feeling? Therefore, certain commentaries have stated that the mitzvah merely requires us to perform deeds which would normally be motivated by feelings of love. However, in Sefer HaMitzvot (Shoresh 9), the Rambam specifically states that this mitzvah involves our emotions. Therefore, it must be interpreted to mean that we are commanded to bring ourselves to a state of mind that will inspire feelings of love.

Though the mitzvah involves our feelings, it also requires a specific course of behavior as the Rambam continues:

Therefore, - i.e., the following are the applications of this mitzvah in the ethical realm. However, since "'Love your neighbor as yourself' is a great general principle in the Torah" (Sifra, Leviticus 19:18), there are also applications of this principle in many other spheres.

Thus, Hilchot Eivel 14:1 states:

It is a positive mitzvah ordained by the Rabbis to visit the sick, comfort mourners, participate in a funeral or a wedding, accompany guests, arrange for all the needs of burial..., and to bring joy to a bride and a groom and assist them with all their needs.
These are deeds of kindness performed with one's person for which there is no measure.
Although these are Rabbinic commands, they are included in [the commandment, "Love your neighbor as yourself," [which implies that] all the things that you would like others to do for you, you should do for your brother in Torah and mitzvot.

The Rambam also mentions this commandment in connection with choosing a bride (Hilchot Ishut 3:19), ransoming captives (Hilchot Matnot Ani'im 8:10), and even determining the proper manner of execution (Hilchot Sanhedrin 15:1).

one should speak the praises of [others] and show concern for their money just as he is concerned with his own money - Avot 2:15 states: "Your friend's money should be as dear to your as your own."

and seeks his own honor. - This corresponds to speaking praise of others. See Avot 2:13: "Your friend's dignity should be as dear to you as your own."

Whoever gains honor through the degradation of a colleague - i.e., builds his reputation by emphasizing a colleague's faults

does not have a share in the world to come. - See Hilchot Teshuvah 3:14.

Commentary Halacha 4

Loving a convert - Here, the Rambam is referring to a 18רג קדצ, a convert to Judaism, as distinct from a גר תושב, a gentile who accepts the seven mitzvot commanded to Noah and his descendants (See Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah, Chapters 13-14).

who has come to nestle under the wings of the Shechinah - This phrase is borrowed from the comforting words spoken by Boaz to Ruth in praise of her dedication in confronting the challenges faced by a convert (Ruth 2:12).

[fulfills] two positive commandments: one for he is [also] included among the "neighbors" - i.e., he is a full-fledged member of the Jewish people.

[whom we are commanded to love] - as mentioned in the previous halachah.

and one because he is a convert and the Torah (Deuteronomy 10:19) states: "and you shall love the converts." - Sefer HaMitzvot (positive mitzvah 207) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 431) include this as one of the Torah's 613 commandments.

[Thus, God] has commanded us concerning the love of a convert just as He has commanded us concerning loving Himself as [Deuteronomy 11:1] states: "and you shall love God, your Lord." - i.e., just as one's love of God must be unlimited, so, too, must one have boundless love for a convert (Mahari, commentary to Sefer HaMitzvot).

The Holy One, blessed be He, Himself, loves converts as [Deuteronomy 10:18] states: "and He loves converts." - The Midrash Tanchumah (VaYikra 2) states:

The Holy One, blessed be He, states: "It is sufficient that he left idols behind and came [to live] among you. I adjure you to love him, for I love him."

In Sefer HaMitzvot (ibid.) the Rambam also emphasizes that the sacrifices a convert made in coming to Judaism are the reason "God has offered him additional love and created an additional mitzvah for him."

A number of the Rambam's responsa are also dedicated to strengthening the spirits of converts. He wrote to a convert named Ovadiah, that although the Jews trace their lineage to Abraham, the converts' connection to Judaism is dependent on God, Himself and is, therefore, more praiseworthy. Similarly, he praises another convert for "leaving his father and homeland...pursuing God... and reaching such heights."

Commentary Halacha 5

Whoever hates a [fellow] Jew in his heart transgresses a Torah prohibition as [Leviticus 19:17] states: "Do not hate your brother in your heart." - Sefer HaMitzvot (negative mitzvah 302) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 238) include this prohibition as one of the Torah's 613 mitzvot.

One is not [liable for] lashes - The minimum punishment given for violating a Torah command.

for violating this prohibition because no deed is involved. - This is a principle followed throughout Torah law; a court administers punishment only for actions, not for thoughts or feelings (See Hilchot Temurah 1:1).

The Torah only warns [us] against hating in [our] hearts. - Thus, here, we see a prohibition that involves only our emotions, i.e., we are forbidden to harbor such feelings in our hearts.

However, a person who beats a colleague or insults him, - Sefer HaMitzvot (ibid.) goes further and states that if a person makes known his hatred for his colleague, even though he transgresses the prohibitions against seeking vengeance and/or bearing a grudge, he does not violate this prohibition. Thus, this mitzvah forbids holding feelings of enmity in one's heart when they are never expressed.

although he is not permitted to do so, - The Rambam mentions the prohibition against insulting a fellow Jew in Halachah 8 (and against cursing a fellow Jew in Hilchot Sanhedrin 26:1-2) and the prohibition against hitting a fellow Jew in Hilchot Sanhedrin 16:12.

does not violate [the prohibition,] "you shall not hate." - In Sefer HaMitzvot (ibid.), the Rambam describes this hatred "as more severe than anything else." Once hatred has been expressed, it is possible to reconcile differences. However, if it is kept hidden in one's heart, there is no possibility of improving relations and establishing unity.

Commentary Halacha 6

When one person wrongs another, the latter should not remain silent and despise him - See Halachah 9.

as [II Samuel 13:22] states concerning the wicked: "And Avshalom did not speak to Amnon neither good, nor bad for Avshalom hated Amnon." - Avshalom had just reason for hating Amnon who had raped and disgraced Tamar, Avshalom's sister. Nevertheless, Avshalom is criticized for not making his ill feelings known and failing to try to resolve his differences with Amnon peacefully.

The choice of this example appears to be the Rambam's own for the commentaries have not cited any sources which he quotes. Perhaps the Rambam cites this instance to demonstrate the negative effects of such hatred. Ultimately, Avshalom slew Amnon, triggering a series of unfortunate events which culminated in a bitter civil war and his own death.

Rather, he is commanded - Sefer HaMitzvot (positive mitzvah 205) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 239) include this as one of the 613 mitzvot of the Torah. This commandment has two dimensions:
a) to bring the complaints one has against a colleague into the open as stated in this halachah; b) to rebuke a sinner as stated in the following halachah.

to make the matter known and ask him: "Why did you do this to me?", "Why did you wrong me regarding that matter?" as [Leviticus 19:17] states: "You shall surely admonish your colleague." - Leviticus 19:17-18 states:

(17) Do not hate your brother in your heart. You must surely admonish your neighbor and not bear a sin because of him. (18) Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against the children of your people. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Each of the clauses in these two verses is halachically significant. The first verse informs us that hatred of a fellow Jew is prohibited (Halachah 5). Then, it explains how one should respond if negative feelings towards a colleague arise (Halachah 6, here). Afterwards, it teaches that one's negative feelings must be expressed in a manner that does not embarrass one's fellow Jew (Halachah 8). Thus, the verse can be rendered: Do not bear hate in your heart, instead, inform your fellow Jew of your complaint, but do so in a manner that is not sinful. (Note the Ramban's commentary on the verse.)

The second verse teaches that vengeance or bearing a grudge is forbidden (Chapter 7, Halachot 7-8) and then, concludes with a positive statement obligating us to love our fellow Jew (Halachah 3).

If, afterwards, [the person who committed the wrong] asks [his colleague] to forgive him, he must do so. - See Yoma 87a which gives several examples of Sages who went out of their way to create circumstances that would allow a person who had wronged them to ask for forgiveness.

A person should not be cruel when forgiving [as implied by Genesis 20:17]: "And Abraham prayed to God..." - The narrative in Genesis describes how after God punished Avimelech, King of the Philistines, for taking Sarah, he returned her to Abraham and Abraham prayed for Avimelech's recovery. Though Abraham had been wronged, he was willing to forgive Avimelech.

Note Hilchot Teshuvah 2:10 which states:

It is forbidden for a person to be cruel and refuse to be appeased. Instead, he should be easily pacified and difficult to anger. When the person who wronged him asks for forgiveness, he should forgive him with a full heart...
This is the path of the seed of Israel... In contrast, the insensitive gentiles..., their wrath is preserved forever. Similarly, because the Gibeonites did not forgive... [II Samuel 21:2] describes them as follows: "The Gibeonites were not among the children of Israel."

Commentary Halacha 7

It is a mitzvah - The mitzvah הוכיח תוכיח mentioned in the previous halachah.

for a person who sees that his fellow Jew - Though the Hebrew חבירו literally means friend, we have used this translation since this term extends beyond one's immediate circle of friends. However, it is possible that the Rambam desired the term to be interpreted more narrowly. The Shulchan Aruch HaRav 156:7 states that one is obligated to admonish only a close friend. There is no requirement to admonish a person with whom one does not share such ties when there is little likelihood that one's words will have any effect.

has sinned or is following an improper path - The Avodat HaMelech states that the expression "improper path" refers to incorrect behavior even if no actual violation of Torah law is involved. See also Berachot 31b, Arachin 16b.

to attempt] to correct his behavior and to inform him that he is causing himself a loss - The word חטא, generally translated as "sin" can also be rendered as "lack." See I Kings 1:21. In his commentary to Avot 5:1, the Rambam elaborates on the complementary nature of these two interpretations. By sinning, a person causes real loss to himself and the entire world.

by his evil deeds as [Leviticus 19:17] states: "You shall surely admonish your colleague." - The Torah mentions the mitzvah of admonishment directly after the prohibition against hating a fellow Jew, implying that admonishing is intended as a safeguard to prevent hatred from arising between Jews.

The previous halachah dealt with this concept in terms of our interpersonal relationships. Our halachah deals with this concept within the context of a person's relationship with God. Pesachim 113a teaches we must hate a sinner. As a preventive measure, the Torah offers us an alternative, admonishing him, which hopefully will cause him to correct his behavior and thus, do away with the need for such hatred (Sefer Yeraim).

A person who rebukes a colleague - whether because of a [wrong committed] against him - as mentioned in the previous halachach

or because of a matter between his colleague and God - a sin or improper course of behavior as mentioned above

should rebuke him privately. - to prevent the person being rebuked from becoming embarrassed. However, note the latter portion of the following Halachah.

The Magen Avraham (608:3) states that we are only required to administer a rebuke privately for a sin committed in private. If a person sees a colleague commit a sin in public, he should immediately rebuke him to prevent chillul HaShem.

He should speak to him patiently and gently, - for we are all naturally defensive when our actions are being criticized. We must demonstrate more consideration for a fellow Jew's feelings if we wish our statements to be effective.

The Sifri derives the need for privacy and gentleness from the manner in which God rebuked Miriam and Aharon for speaking against Moses.

informing him that he is only making these statements for his colleague's own welfare, - and has no intention of causing him harm, but wishes, instead,

to allow him to merit the life of the world to come. - which is the ultimate good as explained in Hilchot Teshuvah, Chapter 8.

If he - the colleague who acts wrongly

accepts [the rebuke], it is good; if not, - and the latter persists in his negative behavior

he should rebuke him a second and third time. - In Sefer HaMitzvot, the Rambam quotes the Sifra which mentions repeating a rebuke four or five times. Bava Metzia 31b states one must rebuke a colleague even one hundred times.

Indeed, one is obligated to rebuke a colleague who does wrong until the latter strikes him - Arachin 16b mentions a second limit, when the transgressor curses the one who rebukes him. The Ramah (Orach Chayim 608:2) accepts this view as halachah. Nevertheless, in Sefer HaMitzvot (ibid.), the Rambam specifically writes: "even if one is cursed or belittled, he should not slacken or cease admonishing until he hits him."

The Ramah also mentions that the obligation to rebuke a colleague an unlimited number of times only applies when the rebuke is being given to a single individual. When one is admonishing many people for transgressing together, a single rebuke is sufficient.

and tells him: "I will not listen." - The Rambam (Hilchot Shivitat Esor 1:7) states:

Women who eat and drink until darkness [on the eve of Yom Kippur, because] they do not know we are commanded to add from the weekday to the holy [day] should not be admonished, lest they [continue] doing so consciously... It is better to allow them to remain unaware [of this transgression than risk] their willful violation of it.
The same applies concerning similar cases.

Commenting on this law, the Ramah (ibid.) mentions that a person should not rebuke a colleague for the inadvertent transgression of a Torah law if he knows that the transgressor will not listen. However, this only applies regarding instances like the obligation to add to the Yom Kippur fast which are not explicitly mentioned in the Torah.

Whoever has the possibility of rebuking [sinners] and fails to do so is considered responsible for that sin, - This statement is quoted from Shabbat 54b which relates that, after the destruction of the first Temple, the righteous were also slain mercilessly. Why were they subjected to this punishment? Because they failed to rebuke the transgressors. See also Sanhedrin 93a.

for he had the opportunity to rebuke the [sinners] - and perhaps, had he rebuked them, the sin would not have been committed.

In Hilchot Teshuvah 4:1, the Rambam lists the failure to rebuke a transgressor as one of four sins that are so severe that "God will not allow a person who commits these deeds to repent."

Commentary Halacha 8

At first, - as mentioned in the previous halachah

a person who admonishes a colleague should not speak to him harshly until he becomes embarrassed - Arachin 16b quotes Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah: "I wonder if there is anyone in this generation who knows how to admonish his fellow man."

as [Leviticus 19:17] states: "[You should]... not bear a sin because of him." - I.e., from this verse, we can derive that embarrassing a colleague is a sin.

This is what our Sages said: - Arachin (ibid.)

Should you rebuke him to the point that his face changes [color]? The Torah states: - in the second half of the verse requiring us to rebuke a colleague.

"[You should]... not bear a sin because of him." - In Hilchot Chovel U'Mazik, Chapter 3, the Rambam discusses the sin of embarrassing another person from the perspective of damages. Here, he focuses on the ethical aspect of the sin.

From this, [we learn that] it is forbidden for a person to embarrass a [fellow] Jew. - even in private

The Avodat HaMelech states that when a person feels that a colleague wronged him, he should admonish the latter gently. If the person admonished does not respond, he may speak to him in harsher terms and even embarrass him in private. However, under no circumstances may he embarrass him publicly for his own personal reasons. The Shulchan Aruch HaRav (156:8) and other commentaries disagree with this view and forbid embarrassing a colleague for personal reasons whether privately or publicly.

How much more so [is it forbidden to embarrass him] in public. - where he will suffer greater shame.

Even though a person who embarrasses a colleague is not [liable for] lashes - The minimum punishment for transgressing a Torah commandment.

on account of him, it is a great sin - as evident from what...

Our Sages said: - Avot 3:14

"A person who embarrasses a colleague in public does not have a share in the world to come." - The above-mentioned mishnah states that this applies "even if he possesses good deeds." In his commentary to this mishnah, the Rambam states that, generally, when a person dies amidst suffering, his death atones for his sins and he is granted a share in the world to come. In this case, even the person's suffering and death does not bring about atonement. See also Hilchot Teshuvah 3:14.

Therefore, a person should be careful not to embarrass a colleague - whether of great or lesser stature - Alternatively, "whether an adult or a minor." Bava Kama 86b relates that even minors and fools can suffer from public embarrassment.

in public, and not to call him a name which embarrasses him - Hilchot Teshuvah (ibid.) also states that one's share in the world to come is withheld because of this transgression.

or to relate a matter that brings him shame in his presence. - The Rambam discusses mentioning such matters outside a person's presence in Chapter 7, Halachah 2.

When does the above - prohibition against admonishing a person in public

apply? In regard to matters between one man and another. However, in regard to spiritual matters, if [a transgressor] does not repent [after being admonished] in private, - Even in such a case, the person should first be rebuked in private. (However, note the statement of the Magen Avraham quoted in the previous halachah.)

he may be put to shame in public and his sin may be publicized. He may be subjected to abuse, scorn, and curses until he repents, as was the practice of all the prophets of Israel. - The commentaries point to Nechemiah 13:23-25: "I saw Jews who had married wives of Ashdod and of Ammon... and I contended with them, cursed them, beat some of them, and pulled out their hair."

See also Hilchot Teshuvah 4:2 which describes how the prophets would publicly rebuke the people for their sins.

Commentary Halacha 9

Though the previous halachot spoke of the need to admonish a colleague who wrongs us, there is no binding obligation to do so. On the contrary,

It is pious behavior if a person who was wronged by a colleague would rather not admonish him or mention the matter at all because the person who wronged him was very boorish or because he was mentally disturbed, - The Rambam's words appear to indicate that if the person who committed the wrong was sophisticated enough to learn from the rebuke, he should be admonished so that he will develop his character. Only when the person would be incapable of benefiting from the rebuke, does the Rambam suggest withholding admonishment.

[provided] he forgives him totally without bearing any feelings of hate or admonishing him. - See Megillah 28a which mentions that each night, Rabbi Nechuniah ben HaKanah and Rabbi Zeira would make a statement forgiving anyone who wronged them.

The Torah is concerned only with those who carry feelings of hate. - Since the Torah mentions the mitzvah to admonish directly after the prohibition against hating a fellow Jew, there is obviously a connection between the two. The mitzvah to admonish is necessary to prevent feelings of hatred. If one is able to rise above those feelings without admonishing, there is no need to do so.

Commentary Halacha 10

A person is obligated to show great care for orphans and widows because their spirits are very low and their feelings are depressed. - These people tend to be oversensitive and the smallest harshness or slight might cause them pain and thus, constitute a transgression of the prohibition mentioned below.

This applies even if they are wealthy. We are commanded to [show this attention] even to a king's widow and his orphans - In addition to the possibility of financial difficulties which are often experienced by widows and orphans, the loss of a husband or parent is an emotional crisis which creates stress and heightens the sensitivity of the family members. Even a family whose financial status is secure may suffer strain and emotional upheaval.

as [implied by Exodus 22:21]: "Do not mistreat any widow or orphan." - Sefer HaMitzvot (neg. mitzvot 256) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 65) consider this as one of the Torah's 613 mitzvot.

How should one deal with them? One should only speak to them gently and treat them only with honor. One should not cause pain to their persons with [overbearing] work or aggravate their feelings with harsh words and [one should] show more consideration for their financial interests than for one's own. - Berachot 18b relates that Shmuel's father was given money belonging to orphans to guard. He placed his own money above and below theirs so that he would suffer any possible loss and not they. Similarly, many leniencies and provisions have been instituted within Torah law to protect the interests of orphans. For example, a person who collects a debt from an estate left to orphans must take an oath that the debt had not been repaid even though, had the debtor remained alive, the oath would not have been required.

See also Hilchot Nachalot, Chapter 11.

Anyone who vexes or angers them, hurts their feelings, oppresses them, or causes them financial loss transgresses this prohibition. - The violation of the prohibition is thus dependent on the feelings of the widow or orphans in question. There is no objective standard of behavior. Rather, one must become sensitive to the feelings of the people who have suffered the loss and conduct himself accordingly.

Surely this applies if one beats them or curses them. - Beating and cursing also involve the transgression of other prohibitions. Thus, a person who beats or curses an orphan violates two prohibitions by that act.

Even though [a person who violates] this prohibition is not [liable for] lashes, - the minimum punishment given for the transgression of a Torah prohibition.

The commentaries have questioned why, in fact, the minimal punishment of lashes is never given. Though punishment is not given for a transgression that does not involve a deed as mentioned in Halachah 5, it is possible that a person will commit a deed that aggravates a widow or orphan. Why does he not receive lashes in such an instance?

The Sefer HaChinuch states that since the nature of the prohibition is very subjective, the Torah does not specify any punishment. The Minchat Chinuch quotes an opinion which maintains that any prohibition that can be violated by speech or thought alone (as is possible in this case) is not liable for lashes even when it is transgressed with a deed. The Avodat HaMelech states that the reason one does not receive lashes is stated by the Rambam himself, namely:

the retribution one suffers for its [violation] is explicitly stated in the Torah (ibid. 22:23): "I will display My anger and slay you with the sword." - and this punishment is more severe than lashes. Hence, the lesser punishment is not administered.

There is a covenant between them and He who spoke and created the world - When people lose a loved one, they often despair and feel that the world is run in a random and arbitrary manner. Perhaps the Rambam uses this term for God - "He who spoke..." - to stress how He is the One who brought the world into being and controls every facet of its existence.

that whenever they cry out because they have been wronged, they will be answered as [ibid.:22] states: "When they cry out to Me, I will surely hear their cry." - The use of a Biblical prooftext generally indicates a quote from a Talmudic or Midrashic source. However, though the concept the Rambam mentions is also alluded to in Bava Kama 93a, the exact expression he uses is not mentioned there.

This instance supports an opinion frequently expressed by certain commentaries, i.e., that the Rambam had at his disposal midrashic sources which are not available to us. Alternatively, we are forced to say the Rambam takes the liberty of developing Halachic interpretations of Biblical verses on his own. Scholars of the post-Talmudic period would rarely make such interpretations.

When does the above apply? When one causes them suffering for one's own purposes. However, it is permitted for a teacher to cause them suffering while teaching them Torah, or a craft, or in order to train them in proper behavior. - This point is mentioned explicitly in the Mechilta of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. The Mechilta which is most commonly quoted is that composed by Rabbi Yishmael. Many of the Rabbis who have devoted themselves to the study of the sources used by the Rambam note his partiality for the Mechilta of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his frequent use of it as a source.

Nevertheless, - even though he is given permission to discipline them

he should not treat them in the same manner as he treats others, but rather make a distinction with regard to them and treat them with gentility, great mercy, and honor for [Proverbs 22:22] states: "For God will take up their cause." - The Or Sameach notes that, although this verse may be understood as referring to the oppression of widows and orphans, it makes no explicit mention of such. Therefore, he suggests that the Rambam actually cited part of Proverbs 23:11 which states: "Do not enter orphans' fields for their redeemer is powerful, He will take up their cause" and a printing error caused the other verse to be substituted.

Rav Kapach notes that manuscript copies of the Mishneh Torah do not include the word שנאמר - "as it states." Accordingly, he maintains that the Rambam was merely borrowing the phrasing of a verse (as is his frequent custom), but not quoting it as a prooftext.

This applies to both those orphaned from their father and those orphaned from their mother. - This point is also mentioned explicitly in the Mechilta of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. The commentaries note only one other source which alludes to this concept, the description of Mar Ukva's children as orphans (Bava Metzia 70a) although other references imply that they had only lost their mother.

Until when are they considered orphans in the context [of this mitzvah]? Until they no longer need a mature individual to support, instruct, - Note Hilchot Nachalot 11:10 which mentions a guardian's responsibilities to train the orphans in his charge to perform mitzvot.

and care for them and are able to see to all their own needs by themselves like other adults. - Thus, this is not a matter of objectively determined chronological age and may vary from society to society according to the different socio-economic norms.

De'ot - Chapter Seven

Halacha 1

A person who collects gossip about a colleague violates a prohibition as [Leviticus 19:16] states: "Do not go around gossiping among your people."

Even though this transgression is not punished by lashes, it is a severe sin and can cause the death of many Jews. Therefore, [the warning]: "Do not stand still over your neighbor's blood" is placed next to it in the Torah [ibid.]. See what happened [because of] Doeg, the Edomite.

Halacha 2

Who is a gossiper? One who collects information and [then] goes from person to person, saying: "This is what so and so said;" "This is what I heard about so and so." Even if the statements are true, they bring about the destruction of the world.

There is a much more serious sin than [gossip], which is also included in this prohibition: lashon horah, i.e., relating deprecating facts about a colleague, even if they are true.

[Lashon horah does not refer to the invention of lies;] that is referred to as defamation of character. Rather, one who speaks lashon horah is someone who sits and relates: "This is what so and so has done;" "His parents were such and such;" "This is what I have heard about him," telling uncomplimentary things. Concerning this [transgression], the verse [Psalms 12:4] states: "May God cut off all guileful lips, the tongues which speak proud things..."

Halacha 3

Our Sages said: "There are three sins for which retribution is exacted from a person in this world and, [for which] he is [nonetheless,] denied a portion in the world to come: idol worship, forbidden sexual relations, and murder. Lashon horah is equivalent to all of them."

Our Sages also said: "Anyone who speaks lashon horah is like one who denies God as [implied by Psalms 12:5]: 'Those who said: With our tongues we will prevail; our lips are our own. Who is Lord over us?’”

In addition, they said: "Lashon horah kills three [people], the one who speaks it, the one who listens to it, and the one about whom it is spoken. The one who listens to it [suffers] more than the one who speaks it.”

Halacha 4

There are certain matters which are considered "the dust of lashon horah." What is implied? [For example, a person says:] "Who will tell so and so to continue acting as he does now," or "Do not talk about so and so; I do not want to say what happened," or the like.

Similarly, it is also considered the "dust of lashon horah" when someone speaks favorably about a colleague in the presence of his enemies, for this will surely prompt them to speak disparagingly about him. In this regard, King Solomon said [Proverbs 27:14]: "One who greets his colleague early in the morning, in a loud voice, curses him," for his positive [act] will bring him negative [repercussions].

Similarly, [to be condemned is] a person who relates lashon horah in frivolity and jest, as if he were not speaking with hatred. This was also mentioned by Solomon in his wisdom [Proverbs 26:18-19]: "As a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death and says: 'I am only joking.’”

[Also, to be condemned is] someone who speaks lashon horah about a colleague slyly, pretending to be innocently telling a story without knowing that it is harmful. When he is reproved, he excuses himself by saying: "I did not know that the story was harmful or that so and so was involved."

Halacha 5

[There is no difference] whether one speaks lashon horah about a person in his presence or behind his back. [The statements] of people who relate matters which, when passed from one person to another, will cause harm to a man's person or to his property or will even [merely] annoy him or frighten him are considered as lashon horah.

If such statements were made in the presence of three people, [one may assume that the matter] has already become public knowledge. Thus, if one of the three relates the matter a second time, it is not considered lashon horah, provided his intention was not to spread the matter further and publicize it.

Halacha 6

All the above are people who speak lashon horah in whose neighborhood, one is forbidden to dwell. How much more so [is it forbidden] to sit [together] with them and hear their conversation.

The judgement against our ancestors in the desert was only sealed because of lashon horah.

Halacha 7

A person who takes revenge against a colleague transgresses a Torah prohibition, as [Leviticus 19:18] states: "Do not take revenge."

Even though [revenge] is not punished by lashes, it is a very bad trait. Instead, a person should [train himself] to rise above his feelings about all worldly things, for men of understanding consider all these things as vanity and emptiness which are not worth seeking revenge for.

What is meant by taking revenge? A person's colleague asks him, "Lend me your hatchet. He responds, "I refuse to lend it to you." On the following day, the person [who refused] needs to borrow a hatchet from his colleague. He asks him: "Lend me your hatchet." The latter responds, "Just as you did not lend it to me, I will not lend it to you." This is considered as taking revenge. Instead, when he comes to ask him for it, he should give it to him with a full heart, without repaying him for what he did.

The same applies in other similar instances. Thus, King David proclaimed regarding his exemplary qualities [Psalms 7:5]: "Have I repaid those who have done evil to me? Behold, I have rescued those who hated me without cause."

Halacha 8

Similarly, anyone who holds a grudge against another Jew violates a Torah prohibition, as [Leviticus 19:18] states: "Do not bear a grudge against the children of your people."

What is meant by bearing a grudge? Reuven asked Shimon, "Rent this house to me," or "lend this ox to me," and Shimon was not willing [to do so]. A few days later, Shimon came to borrow or rent something from from him. Reuven told him, "Here, it is. I am lending it to you. I am not like you, nor am I paying you back for what you did."

A person who acts in this manner violates the prohibition against bearing a grudge. Instead [of doing so], he should wipe the matter from his heart and never bring it to mind. As long as he brings the matter to mind and remembers it, there is the possibility that he will seek revenge. Therefore, the Torah condemned holding a grudge, [requiring] one to wipe the wrong from his heart entirely, without remembering it at all.

This is a proper quality which permits a stable environment, trade, and commerce to be established among people.

Talmud Torah - Chapter One

HILCHOT TALMUD TORAH

The Laws of Torah Study

[This text describes] two positive commandments. They are:

a) to study Torah;
b) to honor those who study it and know it.

These mitzvot are explained in the following chapters.

Halacha 1

Women, slaves, and minors are free from the obligation of Torah study. Nevertheless, a father is obligated to teach his son Torah while he is a minor, as [Deuteronomy 11:19] states: "And you shall teach them to your sons to speak about them."

A woman is not obligated to teach her son, for only those who are obligated to learn are obligated to teach.

Halacha 2

Just as a person is obligated to teach his son, so, too, is he obligated to teach his grandson, as [Deuteronomy 4:9] commands: "And you shall teach them to your sons and your grandsons."

[Furthermore, this charge is not confined] to one's children and grandchildren alone. Rather, it is a mitzvah for each and every wise man to teach all students, even though they are not his children, as [Deuteronomy 6:7] states: "And you shall teach them to your sons..." The oral tradition explains: "Your sons," these are your students, for students are also called sons, as [II Kings 2:3] states: "And the sons of the prophets went forth."

If so, why do the commandments [explicitly mention] one's son and grandson? To grant precedence to one's son over one's grandson, and one's grandson over the son of a colleague.

Halacha 3

Also, one is obligated to hire a teacher for one's son, while one is not required to undertake any expense to teach a colleague's son.

A person who was not instructed by his father is obligated to arrange for his own instruction when he can understand, as [Deuteronomy 5:1] states: "And you shall study them and take heed to perform them."

Similarly, in every place, one finds that study takes precedence over deed, for study brings about deed. However, deed does not bring about study.

Halacha 4

If a person wants to study Torah and he has a son whom he should teach Torah, his [study] takes priority over [that of] his son. If his son is wiser and a more creative thinker and thus capable of understanding what he studies more than he [himself] is, his son is given priority.

Even though his son is granted priority, he should not neglect [his own studies]. For just as he is commanded to teach his son, he is commanded to teach himself.

Halacha 5

A person should always study Torah and, afterwards, marry. If he marries first, his mind will not be free for study. However, if his natural inclination overcomes him to the extent that his mind is not free, he should marry, and then study Torah.

Halacha 6

At what age is a father obligated to teach [his son] Torah?

When he begins to speak, he should teach him Torah tzivah lanu Moshe... (Deuteronomy 33:4) and Shema Yisrael... (ibid. 6:4).

Afterwards, he should teach him [selected verses], little by little, verse by verse, until he is six or seven - depending on his health - [at which time] he should take him to a teacher of young children.

Halacha 7

If it is local custom for a teacher of young children to take payment, he should be paid. [The father] is obligated to pay for his instruction until he can read the entire written Torah.

In a place where it is customary to receive a wage for teaching the written Torah, one is permitted to do so. However, it is forbidden to take a wage for teaching the Oral Law, as [implied by Deuteronomy 4:5]: "Behold, I have taught you laws and statutes, as God commanded me." [Our Sages teach that Moses was implying:] Just as I learned at no cost, so, too, have you been taught from me at no cost. Teach the coming generations in a like manner. Teach them at no cost as you have learned from me."

[Nevertheless,] if a person cannot find someone to teach him at no cost, he must pay for his studies, as [implied by Proverbs 3:23]: "Buy truth." May he charge to teach others? We learn [ibid.]: "but do not sell." Thus, it can be derived that it is forbidden to charge to teach Torah even though one's teacher charged to instruct him.

Halacha 8

Every Jewish man is obligated to study Torah, whether he is poor or rich, whether his body is healthy and whole or afflicted by difficulties, whether he is young or an old man whose strength has diminished.

Even if he is a poor man who derives his livelihood from charity and begs from door to door, even if he is a husband and [a father of] children, he must establish a fixed time for Torah study during the day and at night, as [Joshua 1:8] commands: "You shall think about it day and night."

Halacha 9

The greater Sages of Israel included wood choppers, water drawers, and blind men. Despite these [difficulties], they were occupied with Torah study day and night and were included among those who transmitted the Torah's teachings from [master] to [student in the chain stretching back to] Moses, our teacher.

Halacha 10

Until when is a person obligated to study Torah? Until the day he dies, as [Deuteronomy 4:9] states: "Lest you remove it from your heart, all the days of your life." Whenever a person is not involved with study, he forgets.

Halacha 11

A person is obligated to divide his study time in three: one third should be devoted to the Written Law; one third to the Oral Law; and one third to understanding and conceptualizing the ultimate derivation of a concept from its roots, inferring one concept from another and comparing concepts, understanding [the Torah] based on the principles of Biblical exegesis, until one appreciates the essence of those principles and how the prohibitions and the other decisions which one received according to the oral tradition can be derived using them. The latter topic is called Gemara.

Halacha 12

How is the above expressed? A person who is a craftsman may spend three hours each day involved in his work, and [devote] nine hours to Torah study: In those nine hours, he should spend three reading the Written Law; three, the Oral Law; and three, meditating with his intellect to derive one concept from another.

The "words of the prophetic tradition" are considered part of the Written Law; and their explanation, part of the Oral Law. The matters referred to as Pardes are considered part of the Gemara.

The above applies in the early stages of a person's study. However, when a person increases his knowledge and does not have the need to read the Written Law, or occupy himself with the Oral Law constantly, he should study the Written Law and the oral tradition at designated times. Thus, he will not forget any aspect of the laws of the Torah. [However,] he should focus his attention on the Gemara alone for his entire life, according to his ambition and his ability to concentrate.

Halacha 13

A woman who studies Torah will receive reward. However, that reward will not be [as great] as a man's, since she was not commanded [in this mitzvah]. Whoever performs a deed which he is not commanded to do, does not receive as great a reward as one who performs a mitzvah that he is commanded to do.

Even though she will receive a reward, the Sages commanded that a person should not teach his daughter Torah, because most women cannot concentrate their attention on study, and thus transform the words of Torah into idle matters because of their lack of understanding.

[Thus,] our Sages declared: "Whoever teaches his daughter Torah is like one who teaches her tales and parables." This applies to the Oral Law. [With regard to] the Written Law: at the outset, one should not teach one's daughter. However, if one teaches her, it is not considered as if she was taught idle things.

Commentary Halacha 1

Women - Kiddushin 29b derives this concept from the use of the term bineichem - implying one's male offspring - in Deuteronomy 11:19, the verse which commands us to teach Torah to our children. Since others are not obligated to teach women, they are not obligated to study themselves.

Shulchan Aruch HaRav (Hilchot Talmud Torah 1:14) quotes this law, but also states that women are obligated to study the laws pertaining to all the mitzvot that they are required to fulfill. (See also Agur, Hilchot Tefillah 2; Sefer Mitzvot Katan, Introduction; and Sefer Chassidim 313.) This includes a large number of mitzvot - e.g., Shabbat, Niddah, and Kashrut - to the extent that many men would be proud if their Torah knowledge encompassed these areas. Furthermore, women are also obligated to perform "spiritual" mitzvot - e.g., to love God, fear Him, and believe in Him. Thus, they must also study those aspects of Torah which relate to these commandments. See also Halachah 13 and its commentary.

slaves - i.e., gentile slaves. The Torah obligations of women and slaves are identical. Furthermore, Ketubot 28a states that a person is forbidden to teach Torah to his slaves.

and minors - The latter are considered as lacking intellectual maturity. Hence, they are under no obligation at all according to Torah law. This concept is so clearly understood that some commentaries maintain that this word should not be included in the text of the Mishneh Torah. The authoritative Oxford manuscript of the Mishneh Torah indeed omits it.

are free from the obligation of Torah study. - The question arises: Why does the Rambam begin his discussion of this mitzvah with the mention of those who are not obligated? Why does he not begin with a discussion of the obligation the mitzvah implies?

Nevertheless, - though the son is not, himself, obligated to study

a father is obligated -Sefer HaMitzvot (Positive Commandment 11) and Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 419) count this as one of the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

to teach his son Torah - Nazir 29a also mentions a Rabbinic obligation to train one's children in the performance of mitzvot. The Rambam mentions this obligation with regard to many of the particular mitzvot - e.g., Hilchot Chametz U'Matzah 6:10, Hilchot Sukkah 6:1 and also with regard to the responsibilities of a guardian, Hilchot Nachalot 11:10.

while he is a minor, as [Deuteronomy 11:19] states: "And you shall teach them to your sons to speak about them." - Though this verse mentions teaching Torah only to one's children, the Rambam also maintains that the mitzvah of Torah study includes an adult's study of Torah (Sefer HaMitzvot, ibid.). Nevertheless, he begins his description of the mitzvah with the obligation to teach one's sons, since that is explicitly mentioned in the Torah.

It must be noted that Sefer HaMitzvot (ibid.) derives this mitzvah from a different verse, Deuteronomy 6:7, "And you shall teach them to your sons..."

[Homiletically, it is possible to explain that the reason the Torah mentions the commandment to study Torah with regard only to children is to teach us that we must apply ourselves to Torah study with the openness and simple faith of young children.]

A woman is not obligated to teach her son - However, according to some opinions (see Sh'lah, Sha'ar Ha'otiot), she is obligated to train him in the performance of mitzvot.

for only those who are obligated to learn are obligated to teach. - This is also derived by Kiddushin, ibid. However, Sefer HaChinuch (ibid.) writes:

Nevertheless, it is fitting that a woman endeavor that her children not be of the common people. Even though she is not commanded, she will receive a good reward for her efforts.

Commentary Halacha 2

Just as a person is obligated to teach his son, so, too, is he obligated to teach his grandson - More precisely, the Hebrew should be translated as "your son's son." There is a difference between the obligation one has to one's son's son and one's obligation to one's daughter's son or one's great grandson (Kessef Mishneh).

as [Deuteronomy 4:9] commands: "And you shall teach them to your sons and your grandsons." - Kiddushin 30a praises the grandfather of Zevulun ben Dan for teaching him "the written law, the Mishnah, the Talmud, halachot, and aggadot."

[Furthermore, this charge is not confined] to one's children and grandchildren alone. Rather, it is a mitzvah for each and every wise man - Shulchan Aruch HaRav (Hilchot Talmud Torah, Kuntres Acharon 1) states that this applies only to an individual who merits this description. Even a student of Torah is not bound by this obligation until he attains a sufficient degree of knowledge himself.

to teach all students, even though they are not his children as [Deuteronomy 6:7] states: "And you shall teach them to your sons..." The oral tradition - Sifre, Va'etchanan. The Hebrew, mipi hash’mua, refers to a halachah transmitted by Moses from Mount Sinai for which an allusion can be found in the written law (Yad Malachi).

explains: "Your sons," these are your students, for students are also called sons - See also Chapter 5, Halachah 12, for a different dimension of this comparison.

as [II Kings 2:3] states: "And the sons of the prophets went forth." - to greet Elisha at Bet-El. That same narrative (ibid., 12) relates how Elisha called his teacher, Elijah, "Father, Father." Sanhedrin 68a relates that Rabbi Akiva used the same expression to refer to his teacher, Rabbi Eliezar ben Horkanus.

The Rambam's words are quoted from the Sifre. Similarly, Sanhedrin 19b relates, "Whoever teaches his colleague's son Torah is considered as if he sired him."

Note Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah 7:5, where the Rambam defines more precisely his understanding of the term, "the sons of the prophets."

If so, why do the commandments - cited above

[explicitly mention] one's son and grandson? To grant precedence - See also the following halachah.

to one's son over one's grandson, and to one's grandson over the son of a colleague. - The Kessef Mishneh questions whether one is obligated to give precedence to one's other descendants over people at large. However, the Siftei Cohen (Yoreh De'ah 245:1) and Shulchan Aruch HaRav (Hilchot Talmud Torah 1:8) accept that principle.

Commentary Halacha 3

Also - i.e., another difference between one's son and others. According to some editions of the Mishneh Torah, this sentence is included in the previous halachah.

one is obligated to hire a teacher for one's son - The Lechem Mishneh questions the source for this ruling. He quotes Rav Yosef Kolon, who explains that since we find that the teachers of children are allowed to charge for their services (Halachah 7), it is obvious that the fathers are required to pay them. Others explain that since the obligation is placed upon a father's person, we may assume that it extends to his financial resources as well.

Since a person is obligated to pay for his children's studies, he cannot deduct those costs from the tithe he is required to give to charity. Nevertheless, there is no need to stint in fulfilling this obligation. Beitzah 16a relates that a person's income for the entire year is fixed, with the exception of the money he spends to prepare for the Sabbaths and festivals, and that spent in teaching his sons Torah. With regard to these matters, if he spends more, he will be granted more, and if he spends less, he will be granted less.

In addition, once children pass the age of six, the cost of their living expenses can be deducted from one's tithes if their time is being devoted to Torah study (Hilchot Matnot Ani'im 10:16).

The commentaries question whether the obligation to pay for a teacher applies to one's grandson as well. The Maharshal and the Siftei Cohen (ibid.) impose such a requirement, while the Radbaz frees one of the obligation.

while one is not required to undertake any expense to teach a colleague's son. - as part of one's obligation to teach Torah. Nevertheless, every Jew is obligated to give charity, and one of the most important priorities (particularly, at present) for charity is the education of children. (See Ramah, Choshen Mishpat 163:3; Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Hilchot Talmud Torah 1:3.)

A person who was not instructed by his father is obligated to arrange for his own instruction - even if it involves an expense (See Halachah 7.)

when he can understand - The Tzemach Tzedek (Piskei Dinim) notes that the Rambam does not state "when he matures and can understand," and questions whether, in this unique instance, the Torah has placed an obligation on a minor.

as [Deuteronomy 5:1] states: "And you shall study them and take heed to perform them."

Similarly, in every place, one finds that study takes precedence over deed - i.e., the performance of mitzvot. Kiddushin 40b relates that:

Rabbi Tarfon and the elders were dining in the loft of Bet Nitzah in Lod. This question was asked before them: Is study greater or is deed greater?
Rabbi Tarfon replied: "Deed is greater."
Rabbi Akiva replied: "Study is greater."
All of them replied: "Study is greater..."

for study brings about deed. - The commentaries explain that Rabbi Tarfon maintains that a Jew's ultimate goal in life is the fulfillment of God's will as revealed in the mitzvot. By performing the mitzvot, a person steps beyond his humanity and performs Godly acts, thus establishing a connection with God's essence.

Rabbi Akiva maintains that study is also a mitzvah, and thus, by doing so, one also fulfills God's will. Furthermore, through study a person can internalize his connection to Godliness and reveal the connection to Him, not only in the realm of deed, but also in thought.

The Sages maintain that a person must be complete in both deed and study. Therefore, study has an advantage, for study leads to deed. In particular, this applies to a person who has never studied (see Tosafot, Kiddushin, ibid.) for, unless he studies, he will never be able to perform the mitzvot properly.

However, deed does not bring about study. - This clause is the Rambam's own addition to the above Talmudic passage.

Commentary Halacha 4

If a person wants to study Torah and he has a son whom he should teach Torah - and his financial capability allows only one of them to study.

his [study] takes priority over [that of] his son. - Kiddushin 29b relates that Rav Acha bar Ya'akov sent his son to study under Abbaye's tutelage. When his son returned, he saw that the son had not mastered his subject matter. Rav Acha told him, "Remain here, and I will go study."

Shulchan Aruch HaRav (Hilchot Talmud Torah, Kuntres Acharon 1) limits this license, noting that a father has no right to ignore his son's Torah education entirely, regardless of his own ability for advancement. Rather, this applies after the son has gained a basis of Torah knowledge and seeks to continue his studies.

If his son is wiser and a more creative thinker and can understand what he studies more than he [himself], his son is given priority. - even though the father has not received any grounding in Torah study (Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Hilchot Talmud Torah 1:7).

Even though his son is granted priority, he should not neglect [his own studies] - Rather, he should establish fixed times for Torah study

for just as he is commanded to teach his son, he is commanded to teach himself. - i.e., though enabling one's son to study and studying by oneself are included in the same mitzvah, a person cannot fulfill his obligation solely through facilitating his son's study. Rather, he must set aside time to learn himself, because the mitzvah is twofold in nature (Kessef Mishneh).

Commentary Halacha 5

A person should always - i.e., even if he is older than seventeen (the age, which according to the Rambam's interpretation, the Mishnah, Avot 5:22, suggests for marriage, Merchevet HaMishneh)

study Torah and, afterwards, marry. - In Hilchot Ishut 15:2-3, the Rambam writes that the mitzvah of studying Torah is sufficient cause to postpone the mitzvah of having children. Furthermore, even if one's desire to study is so great that one never marries, it is not considered a sin.

If he marries first, his mind will not be free for study. - "With a millstone around his neck, will he be able to occupy himself in Torah study!" (Kiddushin 29b).

However, if his natural inclination overcomes him to the extent that his mind is not free - and he is continually preoccupied with sexual thoughts. Concerning these, Yoma 29a teaches: "The thoughts of sin are more severe than sin itself."

he should marry, and then study Torah - consoling himself with the knowledge that he will still be able to study for two or three years before his financial burden becomes great (Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Hilchot Talmud Torah 3:1,2).

Commentary Halacha 6

At what age is a father obligated to teach [his son] Torah? - Though Avot 5:22 states: "At five, one should begin the study of Scripture," the Rambam, based on Sukkah 42a, explains that certain elements of a child's study must begin earlier.

When he - the child

begins to speak, he - the father

should teach him - how to use that potential for Torah study. Two verses are selected as being of fundamental importance.

Torah tzivah lanu Moshe... - "The Torah Moses commanded us is the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob." This verse emphasizes the fundamental connection a Jew has to Torah. As soon as an heir is born, he becomes the legal owner of the inheritance left to him. Thus, since the Torah is every Jew's inheritance, as soon as a child is born he acquires his full share. (See also Chapter 3, Halachah 1.)

and Shema Yisrael - "Hear Israel, God is our Lord, God is One." This verse emphasizes the fundamental unity between God and creation, teaching us, not only that there is only one God, but also that all creation is at one with Him.

The Menorat HaMaor and Rashi (Deuteronomy 11:19) emphasize that the child need not understand the verses he is reciting. The recitation of these verses refines his power of speech and makes lasting impressions on his thinking processes, even though he is unaware of their intellectual message.

Afterwards, he should teach him [selected verses] - each containing significant lessons

little by little, verse by verse, until he is six or seven - until this age, the child lacks sufficient maturity to apply himself to his studies diligently (Bava Batra 21a).

The Kessef Mishneh 2:2 explains that this decision is no contradiction to the Mishnah in Avot quoted above. The latter can be interpreted to mean "after completing five years" - i.e., at the beginning of the sixth year. However, the Sefer Mitzvot Gadol (Positive Commandment 12) interprets the injunction from Avot to mean that when the child becomes five, his father teaches him to read at home, and when he becomes six or seven, he is taken to school. It is also possible to interpret the Rambam's words in this fashion.

[Indeed, that interpretation is more likely. Thought the above mentioned mishnah states: "at eighteen, one should marry," the Rambam (Hilchut Ishut 15:2) states a man is obligated to marry at the age of seventeen. Thus, we see that he interprets the different clauses of the Mishnah to mean "in his ...th year, one should..."]

depending on his health - See Tosafot, Bava Batra, ibid.

[at which time] he should take him - Kiddushin 30a relates that the Sages would physically take their children to their teachers.

to a teacher of young children. - where the child will begin the study of the written Torah in an organized fashion. Bava Batra (ibid.) relates that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Gamla established a fixed ruled requiring all parents to take their children to teachers at this time. (See Chapter 2, Halachot 1 and 2 for further elaboration.)

Commentary Halacha 7

If it is local custom for a teacher of young children to take payment, he should be paid. - as stated in Halachah 3.

[The father] is obligated to pay for his instruction until he can read the entire - The Kovetz and other commentaries explain that this word was added to include the works of the prophets and the holy writings (i.e., the entire T'nach). Rashi (Bava Batra, ibid.) is not of this opinion, and maintains that teaching the five books of Moses is sufficient. The Siftei Cohen (Yoreh De'ah 245:5) follows the latter opinion, while Shulchan Aruch HaRav (Hilchot Talmud Torah 1:1) quotes the former view.

written Torah. - In his Kessef Mishneh, Rav Yosef Karo notes that the Rambam's language implies that this constitutes the totality of a father's obligation, and he is not obligated to instruct his son in the Oral Law. In the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 245:6), he explains that a father's obligation also includes arranging for his son's instruction in the Oral Law, unless his financial situation is too pressing to allow him to do so.

In a place where it is customary to receive a wage for teaching the written Torah, one is permitted to do so. - Nedarim 37a relates that the wage a teacher receives is not for his actual tutelage, but rather for the effort involved in caring for the children. Alternatively, the money can be taken for teaching the proper cantillation notes. [At that time, there were few if any written texts, and the students were taught the entire Torah by heart.]

The difference between the two opinions is that according to the latter, one may also charge adults. Since the Rambam allows a wage to be charged without qualifying his words, one may assume that this applies even to teaching adults. This decision can also be derived from his Commentary on the Mishnah, Nedarim 4:3.

However, it is forbidden to take a wage for teaching the Oral Law - In his commentary on Nedarim, ibid., Rabbenu Nissim quotes the Jerusalem Talmud, which allows a teacher of Torah to receive compensation for the fact that were he not to teach, he could occupy himself in another profession which would yield him profit. The Hagahot Maimoniot develops this matter further, noting that Ketubot 106a relates that the Temple treasury would pay people to instruct the priests regarding the laws of ritual slaughter. He also notes that authors of works of Torah scholarship are allowed to demand pay for their services. These ideas are quoted as halachah by the Shulchan Aruch and the Ramah (Yoreh De'ah 246:5).

Nevertheless, it is highly unlikely that the Rambam would accept such an opinion. In his Commentary on the Mishnah (ibid.), he writes:

According to our Torah, it is in no way permitted to take a wage for teaching any one of the Torah's professions...
I am amazed at the men of stature who, aroused by desire, denied the truth and had wages designated for themselves for Torah decisions and teachings, using flimsy supports.

See also the citation from the Rambam's commentary on Avot below.

as [implied by Deuteronomy 4:5]: "Behold, I have taught you laws and statutes as God commanded me." - Nedarim, ibid., interprets that verse to mean that Moses told the people:

"Just as I [Moses] learned at no cost - when God instructed me,

so, too, have you been taught from me at no cost. - i.e., "I have taught you" at no cost, "as God commanded (i.e., taught) me" at no cost. Moses continues, commanding the people to emulate his example

Teach the coming generations in a like manner. Teach them at no cost, as you have learned from me." - Though the resulting decision is the same, the Rambam's interpretation of this passage differs slightly from Rabbenu Asher's and Rabbenu Nissim's.

[Nevertheless,] if a person cannot find someone to teach him at no cost, he must pay for his studies, as [implied by Proverbs 3:23]: "Buy truth." - i.e., Torah

May he charge to teach others? We learn [ibid.]: "but do not sell." Thus, it can be derived that it is forbidden to charge to teach Torah even though one's teacher charged to instruct him. - In his Commentary on the Mishnah, the Rambam interprets Avot 4:7, which states: 'Do not make it (the Torah) an axe to chop with...' do not consider it a medium with which to derive a livelihood." He continues elaborating on how it is both undesirable - and forbidden - to derive benefit from Torah study or its instruction:

Some people thought foolishly that it is obligatory and fitting to support the wise men and students...who occupy themselves in Torah study...This is all erroneous. No source in the Torah or in the words of the Sages can be found to...support it.
Among the Sages [of the Talmud], one does not find that they asked for money from other people. They did not receive any funding for their precious and glorious Yeshivot...
Heaven forbid to say that those generations were not generous and did not give charity. Had a poor person stretched out his hand, they would have filled it with gold and pearls. But the poor person did not do so; rather, he was satisfied with what he could earn in his profession, whether a little or a lot...
Hillel the Elder was a wood-chopper who would study before Shemayah and Avtalion and live in extreme poverty. He was so great that his students were compared to Moses and Aaron...There is no doubt that if he had taught the people to give him benefit, they would not have allowed him to continue chopping trees...
The Sages would not allow themselves to take money from people. They considered taking such funds as a desecration of God's name in public, because the people would thus consider Torah as similar to any other profession and come to scorn it.

See also Chapter 3, Halachot 10 and 11.

Commentary Halacha 8

Every Jewish man is obligated to study Torah - This represents the second aspect of the mitzvah of Torah study; studying oneself.

whether he is poor or rich - Yoma 35b declares: "Hillel obligates the poor [in Torah study], Rabbi Eleazar ben Chersom obligates the rich."

The Talmud elaborates:

Hillel would work and earn a tarp'eick [a coin of little value] daily. Half he would give to the watchman at the Hall of Study, and half he would use for his livelihood and that of his family. One day he could not find work. The watchman at the entrance did not let him enter and so he hung himself over the window to hear "the words of the living God" from Shemayah and Avtalion.

In contrast, Rabbi Eleazar ben Chersom was extremely wealthy:

His father left him one thousand villages on land and one thousand ships at sea. Each day, he would take a sack of flour on his shoulders and go from city to city to study Torah...Throughout his entire life, he did not go to see them [the villages and the ships], but rather sat and studied Torah the entire day and night.

of a healthy and complete body or afflicted by difficulties - Bava Metzia 84b relates that Rabbi Elazar ben Shimon was afflicted by severe physical difficulties. Nevertheless, he continued to persevere in his dedication to Torah study. Indeed, Eruvin 54a counsels that Torah study will help a person with health problems recover.

whether he is young - and his youthful exuberance might prevent him from concentrating on his studies;

or an old man whose strength has diminished. - See Halachah 10.

Even if he is a poor man who derives his livelihood from charity and begs from door to door, even if he is a husband and [a father of] children, - At one extreme, Eruvin 22a relates: "Who will you find possessing Torah: A person who is cruel to his wife and children" - i.e., one who gives up some of the time he would spend with his family to dedicate himself to Torah study. However, even a person who does not make such an all-encompassing commitment to Torah must find time for study despite his family responsibilities.

he must establish a fixed time for Torah study during the day and at night, as [Joshua 1:8] commands: "You shall think about it day and night." - There are two aspects to Torah study:
a) One which requires total devotion, dedicating all of one's time and effort to Torah, because "the study of Torah has no limit." Though it is fitting for each Jew to apply himself to Torah study in this fashion, such a practice cannot be required of a person. Rather, this remains a voluntary decision to be made by a person, to quote Chapter 3, Halachah 6, "whose heart inspires him to fulfill this mitzvah in a fitting manner and to become crowned with the crown of Torah."
b) The establishment of fixed times for Torah study. Regardless of the responsibilities and difficulties a person may have, he is obligated to set aside a certain portion of his day for Torah study.

On Psalms 119:126: "It is a time to act for God. They have made void Your Torah," our Sages commented: "Those who have established fixed times for Torah (i.e., "a time to act for God") have 'made void your Torah.54

The Sh'lah (Masechet Shavuot) questions that statement, noting that the establishment of fixed times for Torah is considered of fundamental importance. He resolves the contradiction by explaining that a person who is overburdened by financial responsibilities can be expected only to "establish fixed times for Torah study." However, someone who is free of financial burdens must devote himself totally to Torah study. For him, keeping to fixed times represents "making void the Torah."

Shulchan Aruch HaRav (Hilchot Talmud Torah 3:4) mentions these concepts, but also emphasizes a person's potential for achievement. An individual who has the potential to achieve in Torah study should devote himself to this goal. In contrast, a person whose abilities are limited should establish fixed times for Torah study and devote his energies to business affairs, using that income to support Torah scholars.

The above concepts can be related to a more general discussion in Berachot 35b. The Talmud notes the apparent contradiction between Joshua 1:8, which commands "This Torah shall not depart from your mouth" and Deuteronomy 11:14, which relates how "you will collect your grain, your wine, and your oil," implying an involvement in work and commerce.

Rabbi Yishmael explains that a person should follow "the way of the world," involving himself in work and devoting only part of his energies to Torah study. In contrast, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai exclaims: "If a person will plow in the plowing season, sow in the sowing season,...what will happen to the Torah! Rather, when the Jews do God's will, their work is performed by others."

The Talmud concludes: Many followed Rabbi Yishmael's advice and were successful. Many followed Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai's advice and were not successful.

Though the complete and total dedication demanded by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai is beyond the reach of all at present, the passage is useful in order to appreciate two different approaches to the obligation of Torah study:
a) That of Rabbi Yishmael, who sees it as a responsibility to be considered within the context of our daily activities;
b) That of Rabbi Shimon, who sees Torah study as the paramount aspect of a person's life, to which he should be devoted without considering the demands of his financial position.

Commentary Halacha 9

The greater Sages of Israel included wood choppers - Many, including the Rambam (Commentary on the Mishnah, Avot 4:7), cite the example of Hillel. However, as of yet, there is no explicit Talmudic or Midrashic source which states that Hillel was occupied in this profession. Avot D'Rabbi Natan (Chapter 6) states that Rabbi Akiva was so employed.

water drawers - Ketubot 105a states that Rav Huna earned his livelihood in this manner

and blind men. - Rav Yosef and Rav Sheshet, two of the more prominent Amoraim, were so afflicted (Pesachim 116b).

Despite these [difficulties] - See the commentary on Halachah 7, and on Chapter 3, Halachot 9-11.

they were occupied with Torah study day and night and were included among those who transmitted the Torah's teachings from [master] to [student in the chain stretching back to] Moses, our teacher. - In his introduction to the Mishneh Torah, the Rambam lists the chain of teachers who transmitted Torah from generation to generation. There he mentions that Hillel received the tradition from Shemayah and Avtalion and transmitted it to Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai. Rav Huna transmitted the tradition to Rabbah and Rav Yosef, who in turn, transmitted it to Abbaye and Ravva.

Commentary Halacha 10

Until when is a person obligated to study Torah? Until the day he dies - Shabbat 83b states that even when a person feels death approaching, he should not neglect his Torah studies.

as [Deuteronomy 4:9] states: "Lest you remove it from your heart all the days of your life." - The failure to study can be considered as "removing" one's previous study from one's heart because...

Whenever a person is not involved with study, he forgets. - Chaggigah 15a states: "The words of Torah are as difficult to acquire as gold vessels, and as easy to lose as glass utensils." Avot D'Rabbi Natan 24:6 elaborates on how easy it is to forget one's Torah knowledge.

Deuteronomy 4:9 states: "Be extremely careful... lest you forget these things." The Sefer Mitzvot Gadol, the Sefer Mitzvot Kattan, and others consider this as one of the Torah's 613 commandments, prohibiting forgetting the Torah one has studied. (See also Menachot 99b, Rav Ovadiah of Bartenura on Avot 3:10 and Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Hilchot Talmud Torah 2:4-10.) The Rambam does not include this as one of the Torah's prohibitions in Sefer HaMitzvot, nor does he explicitly mention the prohibition in our halachot. Nevertheless, it is possible to explain that he considers this charge as part of the command to study Torah for one's entire life explained in this halachah.

Commentary Halacha 11

A person is obligated to divide his study time in three: - Kiddushin 30a states: "A person should always divide his years: One third should be devoted to the Written Law; one third to the Mishnah; and one third to the Talmud."

In this halachah, the Rambam defines each of the three categories mentioned. In the following halachah, he defines what it means to "divide one's years."

one third should be devoted to the Written Law - the entire T'nach, as mentioned in the following halachah.

one third to the Oral Law - i.e., Mishnah. This is not intended to mean only the Mishnah authored by Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi per se, but rather "halachic decisions without being concerned with their motivating principles" (Rashi, Sotah 22a). As is obvious from his introduction to the Mishneh Torah, where he defines it as "a collection of the entire Oral Law," the Rambam desired that his Mishneh Torah serve this purpose.

According to Siftei Cohen, Choshen Mishpat 25:7, the term Mishnah applies to the halachic decisions of contemporary authorities as well. Thus, today, study of texts like the Mishnah Berurah would fulfill this goal.

and one third to understanding and conceptualizing the ultimate derivation of a concept from its roots, inferring one concept from another and comparing concepts - Each law stated in a previous source has elements which are specific to the situation described, and general principles of greater relevance. In order to understand the proper course of action to follow in a different circumstance, one must be able to differentiate between the two. In this manner, one will be able to derive new halachic principles applicable to situations that were not described previously.

Similarly, by understanding the process by which a halachic concept is developed, one can understand how similar laws could be derived.

[Note also Shulchan Aruch HaRav (Hilchot Talmud Torah 2:1, Kuntres Acharon), which contrasts the Rambam's perspective on this issue with that of Rashi and Rabbenu Asher.]

understanding [the Torah] based on the principles of Biblical exegesis - e.g., the thirteen principles of Biblical exegesis mentioned by Rabbi Yishmael (introduction to the Sifre), the 32 principles mentioned by Rabbi Eleazar ben Yosse.

until one appreciates the essence of those principles and how the prohibitions and the other decisions which one received according to the oral tradition - See the note on Halachah 2.

can be derived using them. The latter topic is called Gemara. - It must be noted that most original manuscripts and early editions of the Mishneh Torah use the word Talmud rather than Gemara in this and the following halachah. This is consistent with the composition of the text, which is almost exclusively in Hebrew, with little use of Aramaic terminology.

Commentary Halacha 12

How is the above expressed? - Kiddushin, ibid., asks this question, noting that, on the surface, it is impossible to divide one's years in three, since no one knows how long he will live.

There, the Talmud explains that one must divide "one's days." Though Rashi and other commentaries explain that directive differently, the Rambam understands it to mean...

A person who is a craftsman may spend three hours each day involved in his work, and [devote] nine hours to Torah study - Examples chosen by the Rabbis reflect common situations. Thus, these statements teach us what would be considered a commonplace division of one's time in the Rambam's age.

In those nine hours, he should spend three reading the Written Law; three, the Oral Law; and three meditating with his intellect to derive one concept from another - i.e., Gemara; dividing his daily study sessions equally among these three areas of study.

The "words of the prophetic tradition" - the remainder of the Bible - i.e., the works of the prophets and the holy writings.

are considered part of the Written Law - Berachot 5a relates that the entire T'nach has its source in the revelation at Sinai. Accordingly, though in certain regards the five books of Moses are given greater prominence, the entire Written Law is generally considered on the same footing.

and their explanation, - i.e., commentary and the explanation of the T'nach.

part of the Oral Law.

The matters referred to as Pardes - The mystic secrets describing the nature of Godliness and His creative power, which are mentioned in brief in the first four chapters of Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah. In particular, see Chapter 4, Halachah 13 there.

are considered part of the Gemara - and should be studied according to the guidelines mentioned in the halachah cited above.

The above applies in the beginning stages of a person's study. - The Lechem Mishneh explains that the Rambam offered this explanation to resolve the apparent contradiction between the commonly accepted practice of devoting most of one's time to the study of the Babylonian Talmud, and the injunction to divide one's study time in three. In response to the same question, Tosafot, Kiddushin 30a explains that the study of the Babylonian Talmud also fulfills that directive, because it combines all three areas of study in a single text.

At present, this pattern of study is not followed even in the early stages of a child's learning. Note the Maharal of Prague, Tiferet Yisrael, Chapter 56, and the Sh'lah, Masechet Shavuot, who complain that the advice given in Avot 5:22: "At five, to the study of the Written Law; at ten, to the study of the Mishnah; and at fifteen, to the study of the Gemara" is not generally followed.

The basis for this departure can be explained in terms of two differences that exist between our contemporary circumstances and the situation which prevailed in Talmudic times:
a) During the Talmudic era, written texts were rare, and it was necessary for a student to commit all his subject matter to memory. Thus, the emphasis was on teaching students by rote.
b) Hebrew was a spoken language and, therefore, it was not necessary to spend time teaching the children the meaning of the subject matter.

At present, the major emphasis is on teaching learning skills and developing a student's powers of comprehension with the understanding that once one knows how to study, since the texts are easily available, he will be able to apply himself to the actual study at his convenience. (See Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Hilchot Talmud Torah 1:6, 11; Eglei Tal, Introduction.)

However, when a person increases his knowledge and does not have the need to read the Written Law, or occupy himself with the Oral Law constantly - because he has already mastered them

he should study the Written Law and the oral tradition at designated times. Thus, he will not forget any aspect of the laws of the Torah - as mentioned above, a lack of review will cause an individual to forget what he has already learned.

[However,] he should focus his attention - primarily

on the Gemara alone for his entire life - choosing the subject matter and the allocation of his time...

according to his ambition and his ability to concentrate.

Commentary Halacha 13

The first halachah of this chapter relates that women are not obligated to study Torah. However,...

A woman who studies Torah will receive reward - for her efforts.

However, that reward will not be [as great] as a man's, since she was not commanded [in this mitzvah]. Whoever performs a deed which he is not commanded to do, does not receive as great a reward as one who performs a mitzvah that he is commanded to do. - Tosafot, Kiddushin 31a explains that a person who is commanded to perform a mitzvah will be more conscious of his obligation and try to fulfill it more fastidiously than a person who performs the same act voluntarily.

Chassidic thought explains the concept differently. The Hebrew word mitzvah (commandment) shares the same root as the word tzavtah (connection). Fulfilling the commandments establishes a transcendent bond with Godliness. In contrast, a good deed that is not commanded, no matter how worthy, remains an act of man and does not establish such a connection.

Even though she will receive a reward, the Sages commanded that a person should not teach his daughter Torah - There is no explicit source for the Rambam's statements, though one may draw such a conclusion from Sotah 20a. That passage relates that one prominent sage, ben Azzai, did not share this opinion.

As mentioned in the commentary on Halachah 1, the Rabbis require a woman to study the laws governing the mitzvot which she is obligated to fulfill. Based on that decision, many commentaries explain that the Rambam's statements refer only to intensive study of the subject matter described as Gemara in the previous halachot.

because most women - Commentaries have mentioned that by adding the word "most," the Rambam implies that if a father sees that his daughter is capable of such study, he should afford her the opportunity.

cannot concentrate their attention on study, and thus transform the words of Torah into idle matters because of their lack of understanding. - Kin'at Eliyahu notes the contrast between the first clause, "A woman who studies," and the command the Sages gave "a father." He differentiates between study that a woman undertakes voluntarily, which is considered desirable, and a father's training his daughter in matters which are not necessarily relevant to her.

[Thus,] our Sages declared: - Sotah 21b

"Whoever teaches his daughter Torah is like one who teaches her tales and parables." - Our translation is based on the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah (Sotah 3:3). From Sotah 21b, it would appear that tiflos (translated as “idle matters”) could be understood as "romance." The Meiri renders it as "vanity," explaining that a woman who has studied will boast of her achievements.

This applies to the Oral Law. [With regard to] the Written Law: at the outset, one should not teach one's daughter. However, if one teaches her, it is not considered as if she was taught idle things. - Though the Rambam's statements are quoted in the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 246:6), the source for his statements has been questioned.

Some point to the Mishnah, Nedarim 3:3, which, in passing, mentions a daughter's study of the Written Law. However, the Rambam's own text of that Mishnah lacks the words "or daughter." Others point to Chaggigah 3a (and more specifically, to the Jerusalem Talmud, ibid. 1:1), which describes the reading of the Torah by the king during the Hakhel celebration, which women were also required to attend. Nevertheless, there is a difference between study of the Written Law in its entirety and hearing the reading of a few inspirational passages. (See Taz 246:4.)

In this context, it might be noted that the Tur's text of the Rambam reverses these statements and mentioned teaching women the Oral Law as preferable to the Written Law. This can easily be reconciled with the opinions mentioned above, which require a woman to learn the laws governing the mitzvot she is obligated to fulfill. In contrast, the Written Law is a less closely defined field of study. There, a greater possibility exists that a woman who is not gifted may misinterpret the teachings.

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