32 quotations from Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah
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“The ‘Mishneh Torah’ is the cornerstone work of Moses Maimonides. In his introduction, Maimonides clarifies the purpose of the work:

‘Therefore, I named this text Mishneh Torah, ‘the second to the Torah’, so that a person, after first studying the Written Law, can then learn the entire Oral Law through this text, without the need to consult other intermediate works.’

Since its publication, the Mishneh Torah has become a fundamental text of study for both religious and laypeople alike. Despite its clarity and conciseness, every detail of the text is considered of great depth.

32 of the best quotes

Here is a taste of Maimonides’ profound teachings, with 32 quotes from the Mishneh Torah:

  1. ‘The foundation of all foundations and the pillar of wisdom is to recognize that there is a Primary Being, the source of all existence.’ (First law in the Mishneh Torah. Beginning of Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah)

  2. ‘Everything that exists depends on God, while He is independent of all.’ (Ibid. 3)

  3. ‘Once a prophet is recognized, it is not allowed to doubt him or the truth of his prophecy.’ (Ibid 10:5)

  4. ‘The right way is the average of every individual quality of a person.’ (De’ot 1:4)

  5. ‘One cannot love God until one becomes obsessed with Him.’ (Final folio in laws of teshuvah, concluding the first volume of Maimonides, Mada)

  6. ‘One can love God only through the knowledge one has of Him… It is necessary to isolate oneself to understand and conceive wisdom and concepts that allow one to know the Creator according to one’s abilities.’ (Ibid.)

  7. ‘The judgments of the Torah do not bring vengeance to the world, but bring mercy, kindness, and peace.’ (Shabbat 2:3)

  8. ‘When a person eats and drinks, he must also nourish strangers, orphans, widows, and the needy. Those who nourish themselves exclusively with their family, without feeding the poor, do not enjoy the joy of a mitzvah, but only material pleasures.’ (Shevitat Yom Tov 6:18)

  9. ‘Performing a mitzvah with joy and loving God, who has given them to us, is a great act of divine service.’ (Shofar, Sukkah, V’Lulav 8:15)

  10. ‘One should want to perform all the mitzvot and avoid all sins; it is only the inclination to evil that pushes us in the opposite direction.’ (Gerushin 2:20)

  11. ‘Do not attribute meaning to the mitzvot themselves, but to Him who commanded them.’ (Conclusion of Hilchot Shechita and Sefer Kedushah)

  12. ‘It is better to avoid making oaths. However, if one swears, one must suffer much to keep one’s word.’ (Conclusion of Hilchot Shvuot)

  13. ‘A person should never dedicate all his property… This is not piety, but folly.’ (Conclusion of Hilchot Arachin Vacharamim and Sefer Hafla’ah)

  14. ‘There is no greater mitzvah than the liberation of prisoners.’ (Matnot Aniyim 8:10)

  15. ‘There has never been a Jewish community without a charity fund.’ (Ibid. 9:3)

  16. ‘Giving to charity will never lead to poverty.’ (Ibid. 2)

  17. ‘Those who motivate others to give to charity receive a greater reward than those who actually give.’ (Ibid. 6)

  18. ‘The highest level of charity is to support those who have fallen into poverty by giving them a gift, a loan, forming a partnership with them, or finding them work.’ (Ibid. 7)

  19. ‘Those who feed the poor and orphans at their table will call upon God, and God will answer.’ (Ibid. 10:16)

  20. ‘There were great sages who worked as woodcutters, water carriers, and blacksmiths, but asked for nothing from the community, nor accepted gifts.’ (Ibid. 18)

  21. ‘Dreams have no meaning.’ (Maaser Sheini 6:6)

  22. ‘Not only the tribe of Levi was chosen by God, but anyone, man or woman, motivated spiritually and intellectually, dedicated to God, will be considered holy.’ (Conclusion of Hilchot Shemita and Sefer Zeraim)

  23. ‘It is appropriate for a person to meditate on the meaning of the mitzvot according to his abilities.’ (Conclusion of Hilchot Me’ila and Sefer Avodah)

  24. ‘Most of the laws of the Torah were given to improve our character.’ (Ibid.)

  25. ‘Once one decides to purify oneself from sinful thoughts, God will purify him in His mercy.’ (Conclusion of Hilchot Mikvaot and Sefer Tahara)

  26. ‘The Torah is concerned with both the wicked and the righteous.’ (Conclusion of Hilchot Shmirat Nefesh)

  27. ‘Any court that continuously promotes compromise is praiseworthy.’ (Sanhedrin 12:3)

  28. ‘Whoever does not believe in the Messiah (Moshiach) or does not await his coming denies the statements of all the prophets, the Torah, and Moses.’ (Melachim uMilchamot uMelech haMoshiach 11:1)

  29. ‘The Torah, its statutes, and its laws are eternal. We cannot add to or subtract from them.’ (Ibid. 3)

  30. ‘In the Messianic age, nothing will change in the nature of the world.’ (Ibid. 12:1)

  31. ‘The sages and prophets did not desire the Messianic era to rule over the world, but to be free to engage in the Torah without distractions, in order to merit the world to come.’ (Ibid. 4)

  32. ‘In that era there will be no famine or war; the world will be dedicated only to knowing God.’ (Final folio Mishneh Torah, conclusion of Hilchot Melech HaMashiach and Sefer Shoftim)

These reflections, along with many other teachings, form the core of the Mishneh Torah, a work that continues to inspire and guide many lives.

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