I have a few questions regarding these two amazing sefarim.

Looking through them, of course, my first glaring question is the orders: why are they different. Sefer HaChinuch was based off the Rambam's list. So why are they different?

For example, you scroll to the bottom of this page, it gives the Rambam's list in both his order (which is what, exactly?) and order in terms of appearance in the Torah. However, the last mitzvah in Sefer HaChinuch is to write a sefer Torah, while it's 612 (not 613) according the that order. Why is this the case? If the Chinuch is basd of the Rambam, and the Chinuch is chronological, wouldn't listing the Rambam's list in chronological order produce the same list twice?

Also, for example, the first mitzvah listed in the Torah (per Chinuch) is procreation. The above list has it at 125. Is there a reason the Rambam places it where he does?

So is the Chinuch's list the same as the Rambam's or are the 613 mitzvot different in these two sefarim? And why is the order so different?


1 Answer 1


The Sefer HaChinuch writes at the beginning of his work that he based his list off of the Rambam's. Meaning, any mitzvah that the Rambam lists, the Chinuch makes a point of doing so as well.

That does not mean that they are in the same order. The Sefer HaChinuch writes that he wrote his work as a means to get his son excited about the weekly parsha. Therefore, he "reordered" the mitzvos of the Rambam by parsha. The original edition had all the positive mitzvos in each parsha listed first, and then the negative mitzvos in that parsha. Subsequent editions made it entirely chronological.

The Rambam however doesn't list his work by parsha. They seem to be more ordered by theme, where for example he groups together Temple mitzvos and forbidden foods, etc. The exact reasoning for his ordering is unknown. One work makes an attempt at figuring it out, but it's all speculation. More on this is found in this question.

There are however some discrepancies between the two works. Besides the one I linked to, another example which may produce the issue you're seeing is there are many verses which could be sources for a mitzvah. The Rambam often lists more than one. The Chinuch therefore felt free to choose whichever source he felt best represented the mitzvah. This means that he might list a mitzvah "earlier" than the Rambam would have, had the latter's been chronological.

One example that comes to mind is the Rambam sources many mitzvos related to the holidays in parshas Pinchas (the end of Numbers), whereas the Chinuch cites them from verses in parshas Emor (in Leviticus).

Regarding the specific case you mention, they have the Rambam listing his mitzvah against drinking wine that was used for idol worship as his last mitzvah. That's because he lists the source for it as Deuteronomy 32:38. The Chinuch however when he lists this mitzvah (#111), he cites Exodus 34:12,15 as the source. That verse is referring to food of idol worship, and the Chinuch includes in that wine of idol worship.

  • At the end of the second paragraph, do you mean chorological, or chronological?
    – Alex
    Mar 7, 2021 at 23:54

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