זה הספר נקרא משנה תורה. וכתבו התוס' ריש מס׳ גיטין דמשנה תורה אינו אלא חוזר ושונה מה שלמעלה. וזה הטעם שומה בפי הרמב״ן ז״ל. עד שהרמב״ן כשמגיע למצות שבפ׳ שופטים תצא מבאר בכמה מצות שמצוה זו מעין וחלק אותה מצוה הכתובה כבר. עד שחושב מצות שלוח הקן. חלק ממצות אותו ואת בנו. ובעיני הוא פלא. כי שתי מצות אלו רחוקות זמ״ז מן הקצה אל הקצה, וגם כפילות המצות נמצא בס׳ שמות מן תחלת פרשת שמר לו עד בחלב אמו, בפ׳ תשא. היא כפולה וכבר נאמרה בפ׳ משפטים. אלא שמ״מ אינו מיותר ח״ו כמבואר שם בס״ד. וכך בס׳ דברים לא נמצא הרבה מצות שנשנה. ומה שנשנה אינו מיותר ח״ו. אלא נראה טעם לזה השם. This book is called Mishneh Torah. And at the beginning to tractate Gittin, Tosafos writes that Mishneh Torah denotes that [this Book] “only recapitulates and repeats what was stated previously [in the other four Books].” 1Gittin 2a; Tosafos, s.v. Ha’meivi Get. Thus Mishneh Torah is to be translated as “Repetition of the Torah.” The Ramban of blessed memory is so convinced of this understanding [of Mishneh Torah] that when he addresses the mitzvos listed in the parashios of Shoftim2`For example, in Deut. 16:18, “You shall set up judges and law enforcement officials for yourself in all your cities” is explanatory of the implied directive of requiring judges as stated in Ex. 22:8, “The word of both parties shall come before the judges” and Ibid. 21:22, “he shall pay as the judges determine.” An additional example is Deut. 19:14, “You shall not remove your neighbor’s landmark,” which he considers to be part of [i.e. explanatory] of Num. 26:56, “According to the lot shall one’s inheritance be divided between the numerous and the few.” and [Ki] Seitzei,3An additional example to what is cited immediately below is that Deut. 22:8, “you shall make a guard rail for your roof” is deemed explanatory of Lev. 19:16, “You shall not stand idly by [the shedding of] your fellow's blood.” he explains some of them as being part and parcel of mitzvos written earlier. [And he applies this understanding] to the extreme by considering the mitzvah of shi’luach ha’kein (sending away the mother bird),4See Deut.: 22:6-7, “If a bird's nest chances before you on the road, on any tree, or on the ground, and [it contains] fledglings or eggs, if the mother is sitting upon the fledglings or upon the eggs, you shall not take the mother upon the young. You shall send away the mother, and [then] you may take the young for yourself, in order that it should be good for you, and you should lengthen your days.” to be part of the mitzvah of oso v’es b’no, (the prohibition of slaughtering the mother and her calf in the same day).5Lev. 22:28 states, “An ox or sheep you shall not slaughter it and its offspring in one day.” The Ramban on Deut. 22:6 writes, “[The sending away of the mother bird] is also an explanatory commandment of oso v’es b’no because the reason for both [commandments] is that we should not have a cruel heart and be discompassionate, or it may be that Scripture does not permit us to destroy a species altogether, although it permits slaughter [for food] within that group. Now, he who kills the mother animal and the young in one day or takes them when they are free to fly [is regarded] as though he cut off that species.” And in my opinion, this is astonishing, for these two mitzvos are entirely different. Moreover, we also find a duplication of the mitzvos in the Book of Exodus: In the parasha of Ki Sissa beginning with the verse, “Beware of what I command you today,” 6Ex. 34: 11. until “Do not cook a kid in its mother’s milk,”7Ibid. Verse 26. The following directives and mitzvos listed in these verses are also found in the Torah reading of Mishpatim: Not to make a covenant with the seven nations that are to be driven from the Land of Israel; to destroy their altars and places of worship; not to make idols nor to worship them; to work for six days and rest on the Sabbath; the celebration of the three festivals; the redeeming of the first sons; the redeeming of the firstborn of kosher animals and of the donkey; appearing three times a year at the Temple (including how God will protect their land when it is abandoned, in order to appear in the Temple three times a year); not to offer the Passover sacrifice while possessing leaven, and not to cook a kid in its mother’s milk. it is a repetition of what was already written in the parasha of Mishpatim.8See Ibid. 23:12-33. We explained there with God’s assistance how none [of those words] are superfluous – Heaven forbid [that one should say so].9According to the Ramban, following the sin of the Golden Calf, Israel is warned of the importance of fulfilling the commandments to safeguard their spiritual greatness; and to achieve this end, these prohibitions and commandments were repeated in particular. To quote the Ramban to Ibid. 34:14: “Observe the commandments which I command you today, and do not treat them as you have treated those which I commanded you at first, when you violated everything by worshiping the idols.” Thus, due to the significance of certain events (i.e. the making of the Golden Calf and the impending possession of the Land of Israel), mitzvos of particular importance may be repeated in the Torah to communicate a special exhortation and message. The Netziv strongly disagrees with this approach and argues that the primary purpose of the repetition of any mitzvah is to provide an additional halachic insight. And accordingly in the Book of Devarim one does not find that many duplicated mitzvos and whatever [seem to be] repeated are not considered – Heaven forbid – to be superfluous.
מבואר בת״א פתשגן אורייתא. כמבואר להלן י״ח ומשמעו פירוש ובאור עד שמעמיד על דקדוק לשון התורה. ומשום דכלל זה הספר ועיקרו בא להזהיר על עמל תורה לפרש דקדוקי המקרא וזהו תלמוד. וכל המוסר ורבוי דברים שהי׳ משה רבינו מוכיחם הכל בא לזה התכלית שיקבלו ע״ע עול התלמוד מפני כמה עיקרים שיבואר בגוף הספר. מש״ה נקרא בשמו משנה תורה לשון שינון של תורה. Rather it appears that the meaning of [Mishneh Torah] is clarified by the Targum Onkelos [when he translates, Mishneh Torah in Deut.] 17:18, [as] pas’shegen ha’kesav;10Pertaining to the King of Israel, the Torah ad loc. writes: “And it will be, when he sits upon his royal throne, he shall write for himself Mishneh Torah on a scroll before the Kohanim, the Levites.” Pashegen means learning and speaking (see Rashi ad loc.); meaning the king while writing the Torah would speak it out and study it “before” (i.e. with) the Kohanim who were the scholars. meaning to apply elucidation and clarification that results in a clear analysis of the Torah’s wording. As the theme and main objective of this Book is to exhort us to toil in the study of Torah to expound the nuances of Scripture – this is Talmud.11See how “Talmud” stated in tractate Kiddushin 30a is defined by the Rambam in the Laws of Talmud Torah 1:11 “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.” All the instructions and abundance of Moses’ warnings [in this Book] were to achieve this goal of accepting the yoke of Talmud [so as to grasp] the numerous principles found in the body of this Book. For this reason this Book is referred to as Mishneh Torah; related to the word shinun, i.e., the sharpening of the Torah. 12L’sha’nen, which means “to sharpen” or “to teach diligently” is related to the word, mishneh.
ואם נרצה לפרש משנה מלשון כפול כהבנת הגמ׳ סנהדרין דכ״א ב׳. תהיה הכונה לפי הפשט ביחוד ע״ז הספר. משום דבזה הספר יש הרבה מקראות שא״א לפרש לפי הפשט ההכרחי שאין המקרא יוצא ממנו אלא בשתי כוונות. כאשר יבואר כ״פ בפ' שופטים תצא תבוא וכן בפרשיות הקודמות דכתיב כ״פ שמירה ועשיה למצות חקים ומשפטים. ומשמעות שמירה ועשיה דמצות אינו דומה לחקים ומשפטים. דבמצות משמעו מעשה המצות. ובחקים ומשפטים משמעו תקון הלכה. כמש״כ בס׳ ויקרא י״ח ה׳. מש״ה מכונה זה הספר משנה תורה. And if you prefer to explain mishneh as “duplication” – as understood by the Gemara in Sanhedrin 21b13The Talmud ad loc. understands, “he shall write for himself Mishneh Torah,” as “he shall write for himself the duplicate of the Torah,” meaning the king is to write for himself two Torah scrolls. – it refers to how specifically in this Book, the plain meaning of the verses is to be understood. For this Book contains numerous verses for which one is unable to provide a convincing, distinct plain understanding; as these verses have two different connotations,14Many of the verses are written in an inexact manner as they are intended to be read in two different ways. (As noted previously in the Introduction to Vayikra, the plain meaning of a verse relates to its context, and may require much analysis to reveal its true and layered meaning – something akin to how one analyzes a poem.) In the following notes we will be citing verses that have been noted by the Netziv as having a layered meaning and represent the distinctive feature of Mishneh Torah. as we will explain several times in parashios Shoftim,1515.See Deut. 19:14, “You shall not pull back your neighbor's landmark, which the earlier ones have set as borders in your inheritance, which you will inherit in the land that the Lord, your God gives you, to possess.” The common understanding of this verse is that one is prohibited to relocate a marker of division of land into his fellow’s land in order to expand his own field (see Rashi ad loc.). However, if the “landmark” is referring to the border between his land and his neighbor’s, the words “the earlier ones have set” appear to be unnecessary and out of place. Thus the Sifrei provides a second understanding of this verse: stating a negative commandment for one who uproots the boundaries of the tribes that were set by the “earlier ones”; i.e. Joshua and the princes of the tribes. Ki Sei’tzei,16Pertaining to the penalty for embarrassing another, Deut. 25:11-12 states, “ If [two] men, a man and his brother, are fighting together, and the wife of one of them approaches to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she stretches forth her hand and strongly grabs hold of his private parts. You shall cut off her hand; you shall not have pity.” The standard interpretation of this verse is that “cut off her hand” is not to be understood literally but “rather, it means: She must pay monetary damages to compensate the victim for the embarrassment he suffered through her action,” (see Rashi ad loc.). However, if the verse is merely discussing the penalty of embarrassment, why does the verse state, “she strongly grabs” (he’chezikah), rather than just “grabs (achazah) his private parts?” Further, if “cut off her hand” is not to be understood literally, then why is it stated? Thus the Netziv explains that these verses are written to be understood in a second manner: How one is permitted to stop one who is a rodef (assailant), one who is pursuing another to inflict serious harm (such as strongly grabbing one’s private parts). As stated by the Rambam: There is no difference whether she grabs "his private parts" or any other organ that imperils his life… The intent of the verse is that whenever a person intends to strike a colleague with a blow that could kill him, the pursued should be saved by “cutting off the hand” of the rodef. If this cannot be done, the victim should be saved by taking the rodef's life, as the verse continues, “you may not show pity" (Laws of Rotzeach uShmiras Nefesh, 1:8). Ki Savo,17See Deut. 26:13, “Then you shall say before the Lord, your God, "I have removed the holy from the house, and I have also given it to the Levite, the stranger, the orphan, and the widow, according to all Your commandment that You commanded me; I have not transgressed Your commandments, nor have I forgotten [them].”This verse, describing the confessions of the tithes, is explained by Rashi (based on the Sifrei) as primarily stating the obligation to transfer all the tithes in one’s possession to their designated recipients. Terumah is included by applying exegesis to the words “I have also given it.” The Netziv explains that by use of the words of the cognate biur which denotes destruction (translated here as “removed”) and “holy” the verse is written to be read as to be referring to Terumah as well. The Torah refers to Terumah as “holy” (see Lev. 22:10) and a non-Kohen who eats it, is punishable with a heavenly death penalty (see Sanhedrin 83a). Thus the Torah is stating that to avoid a heavenly death penalty one should destroy the Terumah as soon as possible, though it is preferable to give it to a scholarly Kohen who is described in the verse as “the Levite,” i.e. one who is notable of the tribe of Levi. Thus biur in this verse has a double connotation of “removal” and “destruction.” Similarly in the earlier parashios [we find many verses written with two connotations, as for example] shemirah18Words of the cognate shemirah are typically translated as “guard” or “keep.” and ase’yah19Words of the cognate ase’yah are commonly translated as “do” or “make.” An alternate understanding of aseyah is “to enhance,” which can include causing one or a task to actualize its intended purpose. is written numerous times in the context of mitzvos,20Mitzvos is generally translated as “commandments.” chukim21Chukim, commonly translated as “statutes,” refers to Torah laws that seem to lack a logical rationale. However, in this context the Netziv understands chukim as the fixed rules of derivation, i.e. the thirteen hermeneutical principles of R. Yishmael, involving halachic derivations unrelated to the context. and mishpatim22Here mishpatim is understood to be laws that have been derived through the use of the chukim (the hermeneutical principles). He is not referring to the common explanation of mishpatim as being laws that have an apparent logical basis and could have been derived by man independently, e.g. not to murder or steal.– yet shemirah and ase’yah have a different connotation with mitzvos than they do with chukim and mishpatim.23When chukim is written together with mishpatim (especially in that order), it always refers to the analysis and application of the rules of derivation to the Torah (chukim) resulting in the mishpatim, i.e. the laws that have been derived through the chukim. For as I wrote on Lev. 18:5,24It is on this verse that the Netziv elaborates most extensively on the sources and proofs for the dual understandings of chukim, mishpatim, shemirah and asiyah (see both Ha’amek Davar and Harchev Davar ad loc.). relative to mitzvos they refer to the performance of the mitzvos.25Asiyah and shemirah in the context of mitzvos, is understood as an exhortation to perform and observe the commandments. Whereas in relation to chukim and mishpatim,26In the context of chukim and mishpatim, asiyah refers to enhancing the Torah by applying the chukim to derive the mishpatim. Shemirah in this same context means to “guard,” i.e., to study the Torah diligently to the extent one understands the previously derived laws (mishpatim) and their rationale (i.e. how they were derived through the chukim). they denote the enhancement of halacha.27For an example of shemirah and asiyah having a double connotation see Deut. 7:11, “You shall observe (shamarta) the commandments (mitzvah), the statutes (chukim), and the ordinances (mishpatim), which I command you this day to do (la’asosam).” The Children of Israel are exhorted to observe the mitzvah (i.e. be constantly involved in their performance) and “to do” those mitzvos in their proper time or as dictated by circumstance. Pertaining to chukim and mishpatim they are directed to “guard” the Torah by studying the Torah diligently and to “enhance” the Torah by applying the chukim to derive mishpatim. Thus this book is designated, Mishneh Torah. These two explanations for this title can be found pertaining to [the usage of] mishneh in II Kings 22:14.28The verse ad loc. states, “And she (Chuldah the Prophetess) was sitting in Jerusalem in the Mishneh.” Targum Yonasan translates mishneh as “study hall”29Mishneh relates to diligent study, as she would teach the oral law in the study hall. and there is a second interpretation translating it as, “between the double walls.”30See Rashi ad loc. These are the two meanings of Mishneh Torah. Similarly see the Aruch, under the entry, mishneh, who includes these two meanings.
בוהנה בב״ר פ״ו אי׳ אמר רשב״י ספר משנה תורה היה סיגנון ליהושע בשעה שנגלה עליו הקב״ה מצאו יושב וס׳ משנה תורה בידו כו׳. It is stated in Bereishis Rabbah, parasha 6: Rabbi Shimeon the son of Yochai said: “The book, Mishneh Torah, was a (commander’s) banner to Joshua. When the Holy One Blessed Be He revealed himself to Joshua, He found [Joshua] sitting [i.e. studying] with the Mishneh Torah in his hand, etc.’”
למדנו דזה הספר ביחוד יש להוציא ממנו כל אופני מוסר. וכן בפ׳ המלך כתיב וכתב לו את משנה התורה וגו' בו ואע״ג דמצות כתיבה היתה כל התורה כולה בשלימות דוקא. מ״מ המכוון הוא משנה התורה. שיביט המלך בו תמיד כדי להגיע לתכלית המבואר שם. We learn from this [Midrash] that one can derive the entire gamut of ethical principles from this Book in particular. Accordingly, in the section describing the laws pertaining to the King of Israel,31Deut. 17:14-20. it is written, “And he shall write for himself the Mishneh Torah, etc.” Though the mitzvah of writing the Torah [required the king] to write the Torah in its entirety, nevertheless the emphasis is on the Mishneh Torah, that the king of Israel should constantly look within it, to achieve the [ethical] goals written there:
למען ילמד ליראה וגו' לשמור את וגו' לבלתי רום לבבו וגו' ולבלתי סור מן המצוה וגו'. So that he will learn to fear Hashem… to observe all the words of the Torah… so that his heart does not become haughty… and not turn from the commandments right or left, etc.”32Deut. 17:19, 20.
ויש להבין מכ״ז דהמדקדק יפה בדברי מוסר שבזה הספר שיצא מפי משה רבינו ברוח קדשו. ימצא כל איש לפי ערכו דבש וחלב. [וע׳ בפ׳. עקב פרשה ועתה ישראל מה ה׳ אלהיך שואל מעמך עד סוף הפרשה] עד שגם יהושע רבן של ישראל השקיף בזה הספר תמיד. ומזה יתבונן כל אחד לפי כחו. וימצא דרך ישר להלוך נכחו. לפי הליכות עולם לו. ואור זה הספר יהי נר לרגלו: One can infer from all [the above] that anyone who properly investigates the words of ethics in this Book, that emanated from the mouth of Moses with the divine spirit, will find – according to his [mental and spiritual] character – [insights pleasant as] milk and honey.33See Song of Songs 4:11, “Honey and milk are under your tongue.” (See the Torah reading of Eikev beginning with the verse, “Now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you?” until the end of the parasha.)34Deut. 10:12-11:25. So much [is this the case] that even Joshua, the Rabbi of all Israel, reviewed this Book constantly. Every individual can obtain insight according to his capacity to find the path of yosher,35See how yosher is defined in the Netziv’s introduction to Genesis. to walk in uprightness,36Phrase taken from Isa. 57:2. appropriate to his worldly affairs; may this Book of enlightenment be a guiding lamp to his feet.
אמנם ראש וסוף התוכחה שבזה הספר. הוא על החזקת חקים ומשפטים שהוא התלמוד בישראל. אשר ממנה תוצאות חיי האומה והיהדות בכלל. וע״ז נכרת הברית השני בערבות מואב ובהר גריזים וה״ע להקים את דברי התורה וגו'. וממנה יתד ופנה למוסרי אנשי המעלה. הן מי שזכה לתורה ועמלה הן מי שברכו ה׳ להחזיקה בקיומה וכלכולה. [כמובא בפנים ו' כ״ד כ״ו י״ט ובכ״מ] וע״ז נקרא זה הספר משנה תורה. לשנן חרבה ולהשיב מלחמתה של תורה שערה. ובזה תהי לנו עוז ואורה. אמן: Accordingly, this Book begins37Deut. 1:3, “It came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first of the month, that Moses spoke to the children of Israel according to all that the Lord had commanded him regarding them.” The Netziv explains that “commanded him regarding them,” refers to how Moses transmitted the Oral Law to Israel at the Plains of Moab. The Netziv ad loc. explains at length how this includes the Talmudic method of deriving new laws by properly applying the chukim and mishpatim. and ends38See Ha’amek Davar throughout the parasha of V’zos Ha’Beracha (Deut. 33: 1-29). with admonitions to strengthen the chukim and mishpatim, i.e. the Talmud, in Israel – effecting the survival of the Nation, and Judaism in general. It was for this objective that the second covenant was made in the Plains of Moab and on Mounts Gerizim and Ebal – “to establish the words of the Torah, etc.”39See Deut. 27:26, “Cursed be he who does not uphold the words of this Torah, la’a’sos (to enhance) them.” To establish the words of the Torah” includes a directive to those who have the financial means or authority to supply the scholars and their students with the means to analyze the words of the Torah deeply and reveal its intended meaning and laws. [The toil in analyzing the Torah] yields men of ethics and eminence, whether they be those who merit to [grasp] the Torah and toil in her study, or those whom God has blessed with the means to fortify the Torah and sustain [the scholars] (as explained inside in 6:24,40“And the Lord commanded us (la’asos) to perform all these chukim, to fear the Lord, our God, for our good all the days, to keep us alive, as of this day.” This verse is addressing three types of individuals: 1) Those who are involved in the toil and analysis of the Torah but have not achieved a “cleaving to God”; 2) Those who have not studied the Torah but financially support those who do; 3) Those achieving a high spiritual level referred to as being a “Chariot of the Divine Presence” (See Introduction to Bemidbar). Thus “to fear the Lord, our God,” refers to Type #1, as those involved in the study of Torah become instilled with the “fear of God”; “for our good all the days,” refers to the reward reserved both in this world and the next for those who support the Torah scholars; and “to keep us alive, as of this day,” refers to true spiritual “living” for those who, through Torah study, transcend the physical boundaries and “cleave” to God. 26:1941“To make you supreme above all the nations that He made, [so that you will have] praise, a [distinguished] name and (tiferes) glory; and so that you will be a holy people to the Lord, your God, as He spoke.” Following the description of the special bond that is forged between God and Israel through the deep analysis of the Torah (see the previous two verses described in note 27), this verse describes the merits of the three types of Torah individuals (as described in note 41). You will be “supreme, above all the other nations,” being unique with charity allocated for those who toil in the study of Torah; “a [distinguished] name,” by displaying a high level of morality (achieved by those who toil in the study of Torah); and “glory,” reserved for those who transcend the boundaries of nature. and several other places). Thus this Book is called the Mishneh Torah as it sharpens the sword [of Torah], to repel the attacks at the gates [of the houses of study].42See Isa. 28:6, “He will be a spirit of justice for those sitting in judgment, and [a spirit] of bravery for those who repel attacks at the gate.” The Talmud in Sanhedrin 111b comments: “Those who repel attacks at the gate” – this is one who is involved in the give-and-take of the battle of the Torah (i.e., its discussions and arguments). “At the gate” refers to those who are involved in Torah study in the synagogues and houses of study from early morning until night.” The deep analysis of the Torah also functions as “the sword of Israel,” that repels the dangers presented by the enemies of Israel at her “gates.” May it be our strength and light, Amen.