Introduction to Hilchos Mamrim

They include nine mitzvot: three positive commandments and six negative commandments They are:

1. To follow the directives given by the Supreme Sanhedrin;
2. Not to deviate from their words;
3. Not to add to the Torah, neither to the mitzvot of the Written Law, nor to their explanation which was transmitted by the Oral Tradition;
4. Not to detract from the mitzvot;
5. Not to curse one's father or mother;
6. Not to strike one's father or mother;
7. To honor one's father and mother;
8. To fear one's father and mother;
9. For a son not to rebel against his father's and mother's instruction.

These mitzvot are explained in the coming chapters.

הלכות ממרים

יש בכללן תשע מצות: שלש מצות עשה, ושש מצות לא תעשה. וזה הוא פרטן:
(א) לעשות על פי התורה שאמרו לנו בית דין הגדול.
(ב) שלא לסור מדבריהם.
(ג) שלא להוסיף על התורה לא במצות שבכתב ולא בפירושן שלמדנו מפי השמועה.
(ד) שלא לגרוע מן הכל.
(ה) שלא לקלל אב ואם.
(ו) שלא להכותם.
(ז) לכבדם.
(ח) ליראם.
(ט) שלא יהיה הבן סורר ומורה על קול אביו ואמו.
וביאור מצות אלו בפרקים אלו.


The Supreme Sanhedrin in Jerusalem are the essence of the Oral Law. They are the pillars of instruction from whom statutes and judgments issue forth for the entire Jewish people. Concerning them, the Torah promises Deuteronomy 17:11: "You shall do according to the laws which they shall instruct you...." This is a positive commandment.

Whoever believes in Moses and in his Torah is obligated to make all of his religious acts dependent on this court and to rely on them.


בֵּית דִּין הַגָּדוֹל שֶׁבִּירוּשָׁלַיִם הֵם עִקַּר תּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה. וְהֵם עַמּוּדֵי הַהוֹרָאָה וּמֵהֶם חֹק וּמִשְׁפָּט יוֹצֵא לְכָל יִשְׂרָאֵל. וַעֲלֵיהֶן הִבְטִיחָה תּוֹרָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יז יא) "עַל פִּי הַתּוֹרָה אֲשֶׁר יוֹרוּךָ" זוֹ מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה. וְכָל הַמַּאֲמִין בְּמשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ וּבְתוֹרָתוֹ חַיָּב לִסְמֹךְ מַעֲשֵׂה הַדָּת עֲלֵיהֶן וְלִשָּׁעֵן עֲלֵיהֶן:


Any person who does not carry out their directives transgresses a negative commandment, as Ibid. continues: "Do not deviate from any of the statements they relate to you, neither right nor left."

Lashes are not given for the violation of this prohibition, because it also serves as a warning for a transgression punishable by execution by the court. For when a sage rebels against the words of the court, he should be executed by strangulation, as the following verse states: "A person who will act deliberately...."

We are obligated to heed their words whether they:

a) learned them from the Oral Tradition, i.e., the Oral Law,

b) derived them on the basis of their own knowledge through one of the attributes of Biblical exegesis and it appeared to them that this is the correct interpretation of the matter,

c) instituted the matter as a safeguard for the Torah, as was necessary at a specific time. These are the decrees, edicts, and customs instituted by the Sages.

It is a positive commandment to heed the court with regard to each of these three matters. A person who transgresses any of these types of directives transgresses a negative commandment. This is derived from the continuation of the above verse in the following manner: "According to the laws which they shall instruct you" - this refers to the edicts, decrees, and customs which they instruct people at large to observe to strengthen the faith and perfect the world. "According to the judgment which they relate" - this refers to the matters which they derive through logical analysis employing one of the methods of Biblical exegesis. "From all things that they will tell you" - This refers to the tradition which they received one person from another.


כָּל מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ עוֹשֶׂה כְּהוֹרָאָתָן עוֹבֵר בְּלֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יז יא) "לֹא תָסוּר מִכָּל הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר יַגִּידוּ לְךָ יָמִין וּשְׂמֹאל". וְאֵין לוֹקִין עַל לָאו זֶה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁנִּתָּן לְאַזְהָרַת מִיתַת בֵּית דִּין. שֶׁכָּל חָכָם שֶׁמּוֹרֶה עַל דִּבְרֵיהֶם מִיתָתוֹ בְּחֶנֶק שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יז יב) "וְהָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה בְזָדוֹן" וְגוֹ'. אֶחָד דְּבָרִים שֶׁלָּמְדוּ אוֹתָן מִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה וְהֵם תּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה. וְאֶחָד דְּבָרִים שֶׁלְּמַּדוּם מִפִּי דַּעְתָּם בְּאַחַת מִן הַמִּדּוֹת שֶׁהַתּוֹרָה נִדְרֶשֶׁת בָּהֶן וְנִרְאָה בְּעֵינֵיהֶם שֶׁדָּבָר זֶה כָּךְ הוּא. וְאֶחָד דְּבָרִים שֶׁעֲשָׂאוּם סְיָג לַתּוֹרָה וּלְפִי מַה שֶּׁהַשָּׁעָה צְרִיכָה וְהֵן הַגְּזֵרוֹת וְהַתַּקָּנוֹת וְהַמִּנְהָגוֹת. כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד מֵאֵלּוּ הַשְּׁלֹשָׁה דְּבָרִים מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה לִשְׁמֹעַ לָהֶן. וְהָעוֹבֵר עַל כָּל אֶחָד מֵהֶן עוֹבֵר בְּלֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה. הֲרֵי הוּא אוֹמֵר (דברים יז יא) "עַל פִּי הַתּוֹרָה אֲשֶׁר יוֹרוּךָ" אֵלּוּ הַתַּקָּנוֹת וְהַגְּזֵרוֹת וְהַמִּנְהָגוֹת שֶׁיּוֹרוּ בָּהֶם לָרַבִּים כְּדֵי לְחַזֵּק הַדָּת וּלְתַקֵּן הָעוֹלָם. וְעַל הַמִּשְׁפָּט אֲשֶׁר יֹאמְרוּ אֵלּוּ דְּבָרִים שֶׁיִּלְמְדוּ אוֹתָן מִן הַדִּין בְּאַחַת מִן הַמִּדּוֹת שֶׁהַתּוֹרָה נִדְרֶשֶׁת בָּהֶן. מִכָּל הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר יַגִּידוּ לְךָ זוֹ הַקַּבָּלָה שֶׁקִּבְּלוּ אִישׁ מִפִּי אִישׁ:


There can never be any difference of opinion with regard to matters received through the Oral Tradition. Whenever there arises a difference of opinion with regard to a matter that shows that it was not received in the tradition from Moses our teacher.

The following principles apply with regard to matters derived through logical analysis. If the entire body of the Supreme Sanhedrin agrees with regard to them, their consent is binding. If there is a difference of opinion, we follow the majority and decide the matter according to the majority. Similarly, with regard to the decrees, edicts, and customs, if a portion of the judges perceived that it was necessary to issue a decree, institute an edict, or establish a custom for the people, and a portion perceived that it is not appropriate to issue this decree, institute this edict, or establish this custom, the judges should debate the matter back and forth. Afterwards, a vote is called, and we follow the majority and execute the matter according to the decision of the majority.


דִּבְרֵי קַבָּלָה אֵין בָּהֶן מַחְלֹקֶת לְעוֹלָם וְכָל דָּבָר שֶׁתִּמְצָא בּוֹ מַחְלֹקֶת בְּיָדוּעַ שֶׁאֵינוֹ קַבָּלָה מִמּשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ. וּדְבָרִים שֶׁלְּמֵדִין מִן הַדִּין אִם הִסְכִּימוּ עֲלֵיהֶן בֵּית דִּין הַגָּדוֹל כֻּלָּן הֲרֵי הִסְכִּימוּ. וְאִם נֶחְלְקוּ בָּהֶן הוֹלְכִין אַחַר הָרֹב וּמוֹצִיאִין הַדִּין אַחַר הָרַבִּים. וְכֵן הַגְּזֵרוֹת וְהַתַּקָּנוֹת וְהַמִּנְהָגוֹת אִם רָאוּ מִקְצָתָן שֶׁרָאוּי לִגְזֹר גְּזֵרָה אוֹ לְתַקֵּן תַּקָּנָה אוֹ שֶׁיָּנִיחוּ הָעָם הַמִּנְהָג הַזֶּה וְרָאוּ מִקְצָתָן שֶׁאֵין רָאוּי לִגְזֹר גְּזֵרָה זוֹ וְלֹא לְתַקֵּן תַּקָּנָה זוֹ וְלֹא לְהָנִיחַ מִנְהָג זֶה נוֹשְׂאִין וְנוֹתְנִין אֵלּוּ כְּנֶגֶד אֵלּוּ וְהוֹלְכִין אַחַר רֻבָּן וּמוֹצִיאִין הַדָּבָר אַחַר הָרַבִּים:


When the Supreme Sanhedrin was in session, there was never any prolonged differences of opinion among the Jewish people. Instead, if a doubt arose in a Jew's mind over any law, he would inquire of the court in his city. If not, the questioner and that court - or its agents - ascend to Jerusalem and ask the court which holds sessions on the Temple Mount. If they know, they will reply to him, if they do not know, everyone comes to the court that holds sessions at the entrance to the Temple Courtyard. If they know, they will reply to him, if they do not know, everyone comes to the Chamber of Hewn Stone, to the Supreme Sanhedrin, and presents the question. If the matter that was unresolved by all the others was known to the Supreme Sanhedrin - either as part of the Oral Tradition or because of its derivation through the principles of exegesis - they relate the decision immediately. If, however, the decision was unclear to the Supreme Sanhedrin, they deliberate about the matter at that time and debate it back and forth until they reach a uniform decision, or until a vote is taken. In such a situation, they follow the majority and then tell all the questioners: "This is the halachah." The questioners then all depart.

After the Supreme Sanhedrin was nullified, differences of opinion multiplied among the Jewish people. One would rule an article is impure and support his ruling with a rationale and another would rule that it is pure and support his ruling with a rationale. This one would rule an article is forbidden and this would rule that it is permitted.


כְּשֶׁהָיָה בֵּית דִּין הַגָּדוֹל קַיָּם לֹא הָיְתָה מַחְלֹקֶת בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל. אֶלָּא כָּל דִּין שֶׁנּוֹלַד בּוֹ סָפֵק לְאֶחָד מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל שׁוֹאֵל לְבֵית דִּין שֶׁבְּעִירוֹ. אִם יָדְעוּ אָמְרוּ לוֹ. אִם לָאו הֲרֵי הַשּׁוֹאֵל עִם אוֹתוֹ בֵּית דִּין אוֹ עִם שְׁלוּחָיו עוֹלִין לִירוּשָׁלַיִם וְשׁוֹאֲלִין לְבֵית דִּין שֶׁבְּהַר הַבַּיִת. אִם יָדְעוּ אָמְרוּ לוֹ. אִם לָאו הַכּל בָּאִין לְבֵית דִּין שֶׁעַל פֶּתַח הָעֲזָרָה. אִם יָדְעוּ אָמְרוּ לָהֶן וְאִם לָאו הַכּל בָּאִין לְלִשְׁכַּת הַגָּזִית לְבֵית דִּין הַגָּדוֹל וְשׁוֹאֲלִין. אִם הָיָה הַדָּבָר שֶׁנּוֹלַד בּוֹ הַסָּפֵק לַכּל יָדוּעַ אֵצֶל בֵּית דִּין הַגָּדוֹל בֵּין מִפִּי הַקַּבָּלָה בֵּין מִפִּי הַמִּדָּה שֶׁדָּנוּ בָּהּ אוֹמְרִים מִיָּד. אִם לֹא הָיָה הַדָּבָר בָּרוּר אֵצֶל בֵּית דִּין הַגָּדוֹל דָּנִין בּוֹ בִּשְׁעָתָן וְנוֹשְׂאִין וְנוֹתְנִין בַּדָּבָר עַד שֶׁיַּסְכִּימוּ כֻּלָּן. אוֹ יַעַמְדוּ לְמִנְיָן וְיֵלְכוּ אַחַר הָרֹב וְיֹאמְרוּ לְכָל הַשּׁוֹאֲלִים כָּךְ הֲלָכָה וְהוֹלְכִין לָהֶן. מִשֶּׁבָּטַל בֵּית דִּין הַגָּדוֹל רָבְתָה מַחְלֹקֶת בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל זֶה מְטַמֵּא וְנוֹתֵן טַעַם לִדְבָרָיו וְזֶה מְטַהֵר וְנוֹתֵן טַעַם לִדְבָרָיו זֶה אוֹסֵר וְזֶה מַתִּיר:

Mishneh Torah (Moznaim)

Featuring a modern English translation and a commentary that presents a digest of the centuries of Torah scholarship which have been devoted to the study of the Mishneh Torah by Maimonides.


The following rules apply when there are two sages or two courts that have differing opinions in an age when there was no Supreme Sanhedrin or during the time when the Supreme Sanhedrin was still undecided concerning the matter - whether in one age or in two different ages - one rules that an article is pure and one rules that it is impure, one forbids an article's use and one permits it. If one does not know in which direction the law tends, should the matter involve a question of Scriptural Law, follow the more severe opinion. If it involve a question of Rabbinic Law, follow the more lenient opinion.


שְׁנֵי חֲכָמִים אוֹ שְׁנֵי בָּתֵּי דִּינִין שֶׁנֶּחְלְקוּ שֶׁלֹּא בִּזְמַן הַסַּנְהֶדְרִין אוֹ עַד שֶׁלֹּא הָיָה הַדָּבָר בָּרוּר לָהֶן. בֵּין בִּזְמַן אֶחָד בֵּין בָּזֶה אַחַר זֶה. אֶחָד מְטַהֵר וְאֶחָד מְטַמֵּא אֶחָד אוֹסֵר וְאֶחָד מַתִּיר. אִם אֵינְךָ יוֹדֵעַ לְהֵיכָן הַדִּין נוֹטֶה. בְּשֶׁל תּוֹרָה הַלֵּךְ אַחַר הַמַּחְמִיר בְּשֶׁל סוֹפְרִים הַלֵּךְ אַחַר הַמֵּקֵל: