Dedications for Sefer HaMitzvoth project
The Sefer Hamitzvoth should form the foundation of any serious study of the Mishneh Torah, as the Sefer Hamitzvoth provides invaluable insight into Rambam’s understanding of the structure of the halakha; indeed, into the core categories that form the bedrock of the halakha. Rambam wrote the Sefer Hamitzvoth as a personal outline and prelude to his Mishneh Torah, a work renowned for its precision in mapping out the entirety of the halakha. Rambam introduced his Sefer Hamitzvoth with the Shoroshim, a series of fourteen principles of classification. Rambam argued that the Shoroshim justified his method of classifying the six hundred and thirteen mitzvoth. A better appreciation of the Sefer Hamitzvoth, including the Shoroshim, is thus often essential to an accurate understanding of the Mishneh Torah.
Rav Ilson studied the Shoroshim with Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik zt”l and has been delivering shiurim on the Shoroshim for more than two decades. These shiurim are the basis of the project, a Sefer explicating the Sefer Hamitzvoth.
The main goal of the Sefer is to properly understand the Shoroshim, and – importantly – to do so on Rambam’s own terms, and not, for example, as the backdrop to Ramban’s critical glosses on the Shoroshim. The Sefer attempts to capture the nuances embedded in Rambam’s rich formulations and to precisely identify their conceptual underpinnings.
Specifically, the Sefer:
- Highlights Rambam’s boldness in crafting a revolutionary framework that encompassed the entirety of the halakha;
- Reconstructs the arc of Rambam’s thought, which was dynamic and often changed over his lifetime;
- Grapples with the scope of each Shoresh and the ways in which Rambam’s enumeration of the six hundred and thirteen mitzvoth conform to the Shoroshim;
- Judiciously weighs different girsaot of the Sefer Hamitzvoth and considers the entire range of applicable literature; and
- Underscores the pivotal role of the Shoroshim to Rambam’s thinking, especially as reflected in the structure of the Mishneh Torah.
The drafts of the Sefer undergo successive rounds of editing by a professional editor, and the Sefer’s interpretations of Rambam’s Judeo-Arabic terminology are discussed with experts in the field. The Sefer will contribute to a deeper and more accurate understanding of Rambam’s views.