Monday, May 4, 2009

Rambam Sefer Zemanim (Part 1)

I apologize for getting a little off course from my comparison of the organization of the Mishneh Torah to Shas - but now we can resume analyzing the different approaches to organizing the halakhot. And after all, what are a couple of months between friends?

The third sefer of the Mishneh Torah is Sefer Zemanim. We can immediately see that the Rambam has abandoned the halakhik structure of Shas. Chazal placed Massechet Berachot at the beginning of Seder Zeraim - the halakhot of agriculture. Rambam places Sefer Zeraim as the seventh book of the Mishneh Torah. I would suggest that the Rambam wanted to connect the halakhot of agriculture to the halakhot of the Beit HaMikdash which is the eighth sefer of the Mishneh Torah. I will discuss the placement of Sefer Zeraim in a (much) later post.

The Rambam states in his Introduction to the Mishnah Torah (hat tip to Rabbi Josh Weinberger for bringing this to my attention) that the theme of Sefer Ahavah is to enhance the relationship between the Jewish people and HaShem. This same theme could explain why the Rambam placed Sefer Zemanim after Sefer Ahavah - one of the purposes of Shabbat and the Chagim is also to enhance our relationship with HaShem. This them connects the halakhot of Tefillah and Shabbat/Chagim and should not be interrupted by Sefer Zeraim and the halakhot of agriculture.

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