Vol 32.20 - Emor 1                                          Spanish French Audio  Video

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(5748) Debate in the order of the Halachot in Rambam's Sefer Zemanim. The connection of the verse (Tehilim 119:111): "I inherited Your testimonies forever, for they are the joy of my heart" (Preface to Sefer Zemanim) to the central topic of Sefer Zemanim, and the difference in Halacha in Mitzvot that are time-dependent.


1. The order of the festivals in “Parshat HaMo’edot”

(the section of the appointed Festivals, in our Parsha)

is according to the order of the months whose beginning is in the month of Nisan:

(as it states, "It shall be to you the first of the months etc."):

After the introduction to the Mitzvah of Shabbat, Scripture explains the Mitzvah of Pesach (the fifteenth of Nisan), the Mitzvah of offering the Omer (the sixteenth of Nisan), the counting of the Omer, the offering of the Two loaves of bread on Shavuot and its Holy assembly, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot.

According to this order, R’ Yehuda HaNasi (רבינו הקדוש) arranged many Tractates, in the Order (Seder) Moed (of the Mishnah), as Rambam writes:

"Our holy Rabbi (R’ Yehuda HaNasi) followed the Parshat HaMo’edot enumerated in Parshat Emor" 

Therefore, he began with Tractate Shabbat, and afterward Tractate Eruvin ("which is on the topic of Shabbat"). He then arranged Tractate Pesachim which is,

“The second commandment after Shabbat in the Parshat HaMo’edot”.

However, Rambam in Yad HaChazakah, in Sefer Zemanim which includes,

"all the Mitzvot ​​that are in known times such as Shabbat and festivals",

arranged the Halachot in a different way –

In the beginning of Sefer Zemanim:

Hilchot Shabbat and Eruvin (as in the Mishnah), and after this, Shevitat Asor (Yom Kippur), Shevitat Yom Tov, Chametz U’Matzah, Shofar, Sukkah and Lulav, etc.

The Maggid Mishnah writes in explaining this order, that Rambam began with Hilchot Shabbat since:

"The Mitzvah of Shabbat is stated in the Luchot, with great publicity, and since it is more severe than the rest . . and since Shabbat is constant, and since the reason for its command is the renewal of the world and it is an inclusive cornerstone in faith in the Torah of Moshe Rabbeinu, peace be upon him”.

Afterward Rambam arranged:

  • "Hilchot Eruvin, and it follows Hilchot Shabbat and its aspect in the topic of Shabbat. .
  • Hilchot Shevitat Asor since it was proper to precede it to the rest since it is more severe than the rest . . and since it is a day of atonement . . and because of the prohibition of labor on it which is equal to the prohibition of labor on Shabbat. Therefore, it is proper to juxtapose its laws to the laws of Shabbat.
  • Hilchot Shevitat Yom Tov which includes the three festivals and Rosh Hashanah since the resting in them is equal and it is proper, since it is a matter that includes all of them before discussing the specific topic . .
  • Hilchot Chametz U’Matzah. Now our Rabbi came to explain the particular obligation of each Yom Tov besides the resting, and began with explanation of the aspects of Pesach since it is mentioned in the Torah first, and since the month of Nisan, in which Pesach occurs, is the first of the months of the year, and since the in the aspect of Chametz, the punishment is Karet, and the more severe precedes. . the
  • Hilchot Shofar, Sukkah and Lulav, and their aspect in the seventh month . . And they are Positive Commandments etc.”.

(Afterward he goes on to explain the reason of the order of the other Halachot of Sefer Zemanim: Shekalim, Kiddush HaChodesh, Taanit, (Biblical Mitzvot and afterward Rabbinic Mitzvot) Megillah and Chanukah).

Seemingly, an explanation is needed:

The reason why Rambam did not bring in Sefer Zemanim the laws of offering the Omer and the Two Loaves and the sacrifices of all the festivals in "Parshat HaMo’edot", is understood:

For Rambam arranged them according to their topic in Sefer Avodah v’Korbanot.

However, regarding the laws of the specific holidays and festivals, since the subject of this sefer is like its name: "Sefer Zemanim" - "Mitzvot that are in known times" - how is the power of the above reasons in the aforementioned Maggid Mishnah great enough to warrant arranging the Halachot of the festivals differently than the way the festivals are arranged in the Written Torah (and in the Mishnah)?

There is also a need to explain the reason why Rambam delayed Hilchot Kiddush HaChodesh after all the Halachot of the festivals - close to the end of the Sefer Zemanim.

Especially since the establishment of all the festivals depends on the sanctification of the month, as Rambam writes:

"It is a positive commandment of the Torah for Beit Din to calculate and know . . and to send forth (messengers) to inform the remainder of the people on which day Rosh Chodesh was observed, so that they will know the day (on which to celebrate) the festivals (as implied by Lev. 23:2): "that you will pronounce as days of holy convocation".

If so, Rambam should have preceded Hilchot Kiddush HaChodesh before all the Halachot of the festivals in the Sefer Zemanim,

(in other words, even before the laws of Hilchot Shevitat Asor),

and as it is in the Written Torah – that before Parshat HaMo’edot, Scripture prefaces the verses:

"That you shall designate as holy occasions"(as aforementioned in Rambam),

"These are the L-rd's appointed (holy days), holy occasions, which you shall designate in their appointed time”.

Moreover, in the enumeration of the Mitzvot ​​in the beginning of the Sefer HaYad (and so too, in Sefer HaMitzvot), Rambam indeed counts the Mitzvot ​according to their order in the year, and according to their order in the Written Torah in Parshat HaMo’edot.

He begins first with Shabbat, and afterward the Mitzvah of Pesach together with the Mitzvah of resting that pertains to it, Sefirat HaOmer, the resting of Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (and its fast), the resting on the first and Eighth day of Sukkot, and the Mitzvot of Sukkah and Lulav.

Yet the Mitzvah of the Kiddush HaChodesh comes before the Mitzvot of all the festivals, even Shabbat, and as in the Written Torah, where the verse:

“the L-rd's appointed (holy days), holy occasions, which you shall designate as holy occasions”,

comes even before the command of Shabbat, in our Parsha.

2. This can be understood by prefacing an explanation of the verse that Rambam prefaces before Seder Zemanim:

" I inherited Your testimonies forever, for they are the joy of my heart. (נחלתי עדותיך לעולם כי ששון לבי המה)

One must understand:

It is simple, that the verses that Rambam prefaces before every sefer of the books of the “Yad”, are a kind of introduction and opening to the (content) of the Halachot in the sefer. Seemingly, the subject of this verse

(not only does not apply to the Halachot in Sefer Zemanim, but)

is a contrary aspect of the topic of the Sefer:

Sefer Zemanim contains "all the Mitzvot ​​that are in known times". In other words, Mitzvot ​​and Halachot whose obligation is not constant but rather at certain times: Shabbat, Yom Kippur, Yom Tov, Shofar Sukkah and Lulav etc.

Whereas the verse, "I inherited Your testimonies forever" depicts and emphasizes the aspect of constancy of Mitzvot (תמידיות שבמצות), that they are constant bequest and inheritance (נחלה וירושה תמידית), the opposite of the emphasis of those Mitzvot which are in known times.


Rambam himself emphasizes that this is the difference between the Mitzvot ​​of Sefer Ahavah and the Mitzvot ​​in Sefer Zemanim:

Rambam writes regarding Sefer Ahavah:

“I will include within it all the Mitzvot that are constant and which were commanded to us so that we will love G-d and constantly remember Him - e.g., the recitation of the Shema, prayer, tefillin, and the priestly blessing. Circumcision is included in this category because it is a sign in our flesh to recall (G-d) constantly, during the times when we are not wearing tefillin, tzitzit, or the like”.

Whereas, in Sefer Zemanim Rambam writes:

"I will include all the Mitzvot ​​that are in known times", as aforementioned.

Since Rambam himself defines the difference between Sefer Zemanim and the sefer before it, in that the Mitzvot in it are not constant - it is most puzzling why he prefaces this Sefer with the verse that emphasizes the constancy of Mitzvot - "I inherited Your testimonies forever"?

(It is difficult to say that it is because of the end of the verse "for they are the joy of my heart” – that Yomim Tovim are festivals of joy. For this is not the topic of the Mitzvot in this Sefer, according to what Rambam himself writes, as above. it is plain that this does not apply to the Mitzvot of the entire Sefer, like Yom Kippur, Shekalim and others).

One could say that with this verse Rambam is coming to define the essence of Sefer Zemanim, and this also explains the order of the Halachot in this Sefer, as will be explained.

3. The explanation of the matter is:

Mitzvot whose obligation are at a certain time contain two aspects:

  • The application of the Mitzvah in time. Namely, that this time has this Mitzvah in it, and
  • The application of the obligation on the person.

One could say that in accordance with these two aspects, there are the two orders mentioned above:

  • Due to the application in time, the order of the obligation fits the order of the times in the year.
  • Due to the application of the obligation on the person, the obligation on the person is a constant obligation, and therefore the order of the Halachot is according to their content (like the commentary of the Maggid Mishnah, etc.).

This is the difference between the order in the Written Torah (and in the Mishnah); and the order of Rambam:

In Parshat Mo’edot in the Torah, the aspect of time is emphasized - that there are known times that are different and special from the rest of the year. As a result of their advantage, one must call them Holy convocations, and observe the obligations and Mitzvot ​​that are related to them.

Therefore, the preface to the Parshat HaMo’edot is:

  • "The L-rd's appointed (holy days) that you shall designate as holy occasions. These are My appointed (holy days)",
  • "These are the L-rd's appointed (holy days), holy occasions, which you shall designate in their appointed time"

 (and Scripture emphasizes the establishment of the time of each festival-

"In the first month, on the fourteenth of the month, in the afternoon, (you shall sacrifice) the Pesach offering to the L-rd; And on the fifteenth day of that month is the Festival of Matzot to the L-rd etc.”)

In other words, there are special days that are separate from other days. They are “the L-rd's appointed (holy days)”. Therefore, it is incumbent upon a person to fulfill the Mitzvot that pertain to the day, the prohibition of labor, and fulfilling the Mitzvot of eating Matzah etc.

However, the laws of the festivals as they are in Rambam’s sefer - in the sefer of Halachot and obligations of the person, their main point is concerning the obligations of the person:

Resting on Shabbat, Shevitat Asor (resting on Yom Kippur), Shevitat Yom Tov (resting on Yom Tov), the observance of Mitzvot - Hilchot Chametz U’Matzah, Shofar, Sukkah and Lulav

without emphasizing the uniqueness of time (the time of Yom Kippur, Pesach, etc.) that causes the obligations and warnings on the person.

Moreover, one could say that the scope of the obligation on the person (in Rambam’s Sefer Halachot) is - that there are certain personal obligations (חיובי גברא):

  • Resting from work, resting from eating and drinking, observance of specific Mitzvot –

and the Torah established special times when a person must keep these Mitzvot ​​and warnings (in actuality).

Therefore, the laws of the festivals did not come according to the order of the times, but rather according to their order in content, in the existence (ב­קיומו) of the person, like the explanation of the Maggid Mishnah:

They begin with the warnings and prohibitions: Hilchot of Shabbat and Hilchot Shevitat Asor (Yom Kippur).

“For all labor whose penalty for willful transgression on Shabbat is stoning (סקילה), the penalty for its willful transgression on Yom Kippur is - Karet etc.”

And the laws of the resting of Yom Tov:

“For the resting of all of them

(The “six days: The first and seventh of Pesach; and the eight days of Sukkot; the day of Shavuot and the day of Rosh Hashanah”)

are equal in that they are prohibited in all work and labor, except for labor that is required for eating etc. “

After this, he explains the obligations and the establishment of the Mitzvot of the festivals.

4. This is why Rambam prefaces in Sefer Zemanim, the verse,

"I inherited Your testimonies forever, for they are the joy of my heart",

for this verse defines and emphasizes this foundation of time obligations:

When it is speaking of Mitzvot whose obligation are constant and continual, there is no need for proofs from verses that contain the aspect of constancy.

However, when it is speaking of -Sefer Zemanim – of Mitzvot ​​that are at fixed and known times such as Shabbat and festivals, and not Mitzvot ​​whose obligation is constant- Rambam emphasizes one should not say that the total entirety of these obligations is just a result of time. Rather, they are also constant obligations, “I inherited Your testimonies forever".

As aforementioned, According to Rambam, the scope of the Mitzvot ​​of these times is a eternal obligation on the person. Namely, that the warning of resting on Shabbat and Yom Tov, for example "compels" (משעבדת) the person "forever" - in such a way that for the person, there is an encumbrance (השעבוד) of resting in a constant manner.

And this is also the precise wording:

" I inherited Your testimonies forever"

This means that,

"They are as an inheritance to me. . I hold them as a man holds his inheritance forever. I will not leave them one moment, without holding them".

This is also why the verse continues:

"for they are the joy of my heart".

If the obligations of the festivals are solely a result of time, then it is a matter that is not constant. However, since they are “the joy of my heart” – of the person. Meaning that the person feels joy in his heart for being commanded to perform them - this aspect is not only during the time of their actual observance but rather, “I inherited Your testimonies forever", as aforementioned.

5. One could add to the content of the aspect of the intent of the Halachot of the Mitzvot of Sefer Zemanim, according to the precise wording "your testimonies" (עדותיך). For it is known that Shabbat and Yom Tov are Mitzvot within the scope of "testimonies".

In Rambam’s words (at the end of Hilchot Shabbat):

"Shabbat is the eternal sign between G-d and ourselves" (and similarly regarding Yomim Tovim that, “they are all Sabbaths of the L-rd").

One could explain Rambam's precise wording:

"Shabbat is the eternal sign between G-d and ourselves" (והשבת היא האות שבין הקב״ה ובינינו לעולם)

The reason that sign of Shabbat is eternal is not a side issue, but rather, this is necessary from the very fact that Shabbat is a "sign" and "testimony". For true "testimony" is the establishment of the reality through which it is eternal

(for though the testimony, it is established forever, that this is the reality)

The same is regarding the "testimony" of “Shabbat”. The sign between Yisroel and G-d, that exists through the Sabbath, is not only on Sabbat day, but is an “eternal” sign which exists constantly.

Thus, we find that the scope of "forever" - constancy- of these Mitzvot in Sefer Zemanim, is not only due to the obligation of the person, that the obligation on him is constant. Rather, it is also because the theme of these Mitzvot are "forever". Plainly, the effect of those Mitzvot, in those times, also affects the intervening time. Shabbat affects all six days of the week; Yom Tov- on the time between Yom Tov and Yom Tov; and Yom Kippur over the entire year until the next Yom Kippur.

Similarly, this is in the act of the performance of the Mitzvot in known times:

The theme and aspect of the Mitzvah of the recounting the exodus from Egypt, and the other Mitzvot ​​and actions in Hilchot Chametz U’Matzah, is that we remember the exodus from Egypt throughout the whole year. As it is plainly, remembering the exodus from Egypt every day, comes and is drawn down from the remembrance of the exodus from Egypt, in speech and deed, on the night of Pesach. So too, is it with the Mitzvot of Shofar, Sukkah and Lulav, where these deeds affect and act throughout the whole year.

This is most emphasized in the words of Rambam at the end of the Hilchot Lulav, where he concludes with concept of joy:

"A person should rejoice in the fulfillment of the Mitzvot and the love of G-d who commanded them”. It is “a great service. . Whoever holds himself back from this rejoicing is etc.”


“More than our Rabbi (Rambam) was wise in the laws of the Torah etc., he also balanced and researched and enacted in the arrangement of his ordering (the topics) in his books”.

Every Halacha that Rambam wrote in his sefer was written in its proper place. The obligation of happiness in the performance of the Mitzvot and the love of G-d is not related to the laws of Sukkah and Lulav. Therefore, why did Rambam cite it here?

However, the power for the happiness of a Mitzvah (שמחה של מצוה) and the love of G-d, that a person must constantly possess,

(For one must constantly love g-d and fulfill His Mitzvot - for “I was created to serve my Master”),

is drawn from the happiness, that is explained by Rambam, before this – the “excessive happiness” (השמחה יתירה) on the festival of Sukkot.

Rambam informs us that this is not only a law in the joy of a Mitzvah (שמחה של מצוה), which comes and is drawn down from the "excessive joy" of the festival of Sukkot. Rather it is (also), on the other hand - the joy that a person rejoices in fulfilling the Mitzvah is a law in Hilchot Sukkah and Lulav. It is a part of the context of these laws.

In other words, the completeness of the scope of joy of Yom Tov, and especially the excessive joy of the Sukkot holiday, is when the holiday acts and effects within a person, excessive joy of a Mitzvah, constantly on all days.

6. On a deeper level, one could say:

The scope of "forever" in these Mitzvot is not only manifest in the person’s fulfillment of the Mitzvah (בקיום הגברא), where the fulfillment at this specific time affects the person’s deeds throughout the year. Rather, it is also related to the very object of “time” (החפצא ד״זמן״).

This answers why Rambam called his Sefer - "Sefer Zemanim" and not "Sefer Moed (im)". For seemingly, why did he change the name from the way it is in the Mishnah - Seder Moed? Especially, since the word "Moed" indicates a special time, whereas “Zman/Time” is a thing that exists and occurs in the very essence of creation.

One could say that the explanation of this is:

Regarding Mitzvot whose observance depends on time (similar to the aforementioned), one could explain this in two manners:

  1. The time exists and is distinguished independently as a special day: Shabbat and Yom Kippur (through the sanctification of Beit Din, and so forth). This time causes (גורם) a person, who is present at this time, to fulfill the Mitzvot that pertain to it.
  1. The primary aspect is the obligation of Mitzvot upon the person. However, their actual observance is in effect (מותנה) at this time. According to this manner, the person and the time seemingly have no direct connection.

This is what Rambam is informing us by arranging the Halachot, not in the order of their time, that is established in the order of the year (as in the Written Torah), but rather, by primarily writing the standpoint of the obligation of the person in it.

Yet on the other hand, he called the Sefer: "Sefer Zemanim" (and also not "Sefer Moed"). This emphasizes that although they are mainly obligations on the person, nevertheless, the virtue of the person’s fulfilling the Mitzvah is great, in that it affects time. Moreover, it affects the very object of time.

In other words, not only does one fulfill the Mitzvot in the time that has already been separated from other times – days of the festival. Rather, it affects the very object of time, even the time that is not sanctified with the holiness of Shabbat and Yom Tov.

This is most emphasized in that which Rambam did not precede Hilchot Kiddush HaChodesh before all the Mitzvot ​​that depend on known times. Yet, at the same time, he called it Sefer Zemanim, to inform us that that the main innovation of Sefer Zemanim is not (only) that Beit Din sanctifies the months and intercalates the years, where the day of Rosh Chodesh and the days of Yom Tov are sanctified, and that these days differ from the other days of the year in their holiness.

Rather, the main innovation is the action effected in the very object of time (בגוף החפצא דזמן) (which is not a festival), which is accomplished through the observance of the Mitzvot -by the person.

One could say that this is the (inner) explanation of the verse that Rambam cites,

“I inherited Your testimonies forever",

that by keeping the Mitzvot of "your testimonies" in an "inherited" manner – this effects the "forever". In other words, it renews and adds to the very scope of time.

For the scope of time itself includes changes and divisions. The person, by observing the Mitzvot ​​that are dependent upon these times, make the time "significant” (אחשבי׳ להזמן), for it effects within it - existence and constancy.

M’sichas Erev Chag HaShavuot, 5744, 5745

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