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Friday, 7 Nissan 5772 / March 30, 2012

Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

De'ot - Chapter Six

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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.

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