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Rambam - Sefer HaMitzvos
As Divided for The Daily Learning Schedule

Negative Mitzvot 10, 47, 60, 6, 5, 2, 3, 4, 15;
Positive Mitzva 186;
Negative Mitzvot 23, 24


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Negative Mitzvah 10: You shall not seek information about idol-worship
Leviticus 19:4 "Do not turn to idols"

This prohibition warns us not to even attempt to understand what idol-worshipers do, even if we are only curious about it and never intend to practice it ourselves.

The Torah understands that sometimes even honest curiosity can be dangerous, just like it was for Avi...

Avi lives in a small town in Israel and his father is often called for military service in the army.

Once, on a day's leave from his army base, Avi's father came home with his gun.

Avi stared at the gun curiously and begged his father to let him hold it.

"Please, Daddy," pleaded Avi, "just show me how it works."

"No, Avi, you must never play with a gun!", his father said.

"But I won't use it" argued Avi. "I only want to look at it and hold it!"

His father refused and put the rifle away so Avi could not get to it. Avi's father knew that curiosity could lead to an accident.

So too, the Torah does not want us to practice any type of idol-worship.

It knows that curiosity might lead to other things.

Therefore, we are forbidden to even ask about any type of idol-worship or its practices.


Negative Mitzvah 47: You shall not believe in ideas that oppose the Torah.
Numbers 15:39 "And that you seek not after your own heart and your own eyes"

Benny tried to do his best all month.

He studied at school, did his chores at home and listened to his parents.

Benny's mother noticed how hard her son was trying and decided that he deserved a present.

"You know, Benny," she said, "you have made me very proud of you. Tomorrow we'll go to the toy store and you can pick out anything you want!"

Benny was overjoyed, but the next day when they arrived at the store, he walked up and down the isles frowning.

"What's wrong, Benny?", his mother asked.

"There are so many toys I'd like to have and so much to choose from," Benny answered with a sigh. "I know we can't buy them all, but it's so hard to pick just one from all these toys!"

"You're right, Benny," his mother answered, "but I think I have a solution to your problem. We will set limits to which toy you can pick."

"First, you can't spend more than twelve dollars. Second, try to pick something you can share with other children. Third, choose a game that you won't get tired of quickly."

"Thanks, Mom!", exclaimed Benny. "You've given me some good ideas. I'll use those rules and it should be easier to pick just the toy I want."

Like those rows and rows of toys in the store, there are many things that we see and experience that attract us.

The world offers so many temptations that it may seem impossible to decide what is the right way to think, eat, dress, behave, and act.

The Torah and its Mitzvot set guidelines for us to follow, and show us the path we should choose. The Mitzvot point us in the right direction so that we may fulfill the will of HaShem.

This Negative Mitzvah cautions us to use the guidelines that are in the Torah and follow the Mitzvot so that we should not just accept anything that comes our way.

We must be extremely careful and attempt to always choose and act in a manner that befits a Torah life-style.


Negative Mitzvah 60: You shall not curse G-d
Exodus 22:27 "Do not curse G-d"

This Negative Mitzvah is often called "Birkat HaShem," which literally means "blessing HaShem."

We do not even want to call this terrible offense by it's real name - so the opposite term is used.

We are forbidden to curse HaShem.

This Negative Mitzvah also prohibits one from cursing judges.

We must honor and respect judges and realize that their decisions help us fulfill the Torah and Mitzvot.


Negative Mitzvah 6: You shall not worship idols with any other service
Exodus 20:5 "Do not worship them"

We are forbidden to worship idols with any other form of service that was not mentioned in Negative Mitzvah 5.


Negative Mitzvah 5: You shall not bow down to nor worship idols with any services that are used to honor G-d
Exodus 20:5 "Do not bow down to them"

We are forbidden to bow down to idols, offer sacrifices, burn incense, or pour wine or other liquid offerings in worship of idols.


Negative Mitzvah 2: You shall not make idols
Exodus 20:4 "Do not make any carved idols for yourself"

We are not allowed to make idols, carve statues, draw pictures or create any other forms or shapes that will be used for idol- worship.


Negative Mitzvah 3: You shall not make idols for another person
Leviticus 19:4 "Do not make gods out of metal, for yourselves"

We are forbidden to make idols, even when that idol will be used by another person, or by a non-Jew.


Negative Mitzvah 4: You shall not make statues of animals or men even if they are not made for idol-worship
Exodus 20:20 "Do not make with Me gods of silver, neither shall you make for yourselves gods of gold"

We are forbidden to make statues of animals or men because other people may consider them to be idols.

Making these statues is forbidden even if the person who makes these statues did not intend them to be used for idol worship.


Negative Mitzvah 15: You shall not urge other people to worship idols
Exodus 23:13 "Neither let it be heard out of your mouth"

On a hot summer day a group of boys huddled around the fire hydrant down the block.

One boy urged his friends to unscrew the tap.

He described the fun they would have enjoying the refreshing rush of cool water.

He did not dare unscrew the tap himself, but rather, tried to convince others to do it.

The Torah forbids us to suggest to other people that they worship idols even if we do not intend to worship idols ourselves.

A person who disobeys this prohibition is called a "Madiach".


Positive Mitzvah 186: Dealing with a City of Idol-Worshipers
Deuteronomy 13:17 "And burn the city with fire"

If it is reported that some non-believers convinced most of the people of their city to worship idols, that city must be punished, but only after careful investigation.

If, in fact, the people have involved themselves in idol worship, the Torah commands us to kill all the idol-worshipers and totally destroy that city.


Negative Mitzvah 23: You shall not rebuild the Apostate city
Deuteronomy 13:17 "It shall remain a ruin forever, it shall not be built again"

A city whose people had been led astray and worshipped idols, is called a "Nidachat City," an "apostate city."

The Torah teaches us what to do with such a city (See positive Mitzvah 186).

First, a detailed investigation must be made in order to declare it "Nidachat."

If the charge is proven to be true, then the city must be destroyed.

This Negative Mitzvah prohibits us from ever rebuilding this "Nidachat" city again.


Negative Mitzvah 24: You shall not benefit from any object or property from the Apostate city
Deuteronomy 13:18 "Let nothing that has been condemned to destruction remain in your hand"

We are forbidden to use or benefit from any item that belonged to the Nidachat city, (see above, Negative Mitzvah 23).


Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the first rebbe of the Lubavitch dynasty, led the services for Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year. He stood wrapped in his prayer shawl, profoundly entranced in the cleaving of the soul to its source. Every word of prayer he uttered was fire. His melody and fervor carried the entire community off to the highest and the deepest journey of the spirit. And then he stopped. He turned, cast off his prayer shawl and left the synagogue. With a bewildered congregation chasing behind, he walked briskly to the outskirts of town, to a small dark house from where was heard the cry of a newborn infant. The rabbi entered the house, chopped some wood and lit a fire in the oven, boiled some soup and cared for the mother and child that lay helpless in bed. Then he returned to the synagogue and to the ecstasy of his prayer.

Note that the rabbi removed his prayer shawl. To help someone, you must leave your world of prayer and meditation and enter that person's world. You cannot help another from above, only from within.

From: Bringing Heaven Down to Earth by Tzvi Freeman - tzvif@aol.com


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