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I want to study the 613 Mitzvot, and I was told about both the Sefer HaChinuch and Sefer HaMitzvot and I'm not sure which one to learn from. So, what's the difference? Do they include the exact same 613 mitzvot? Is one more detailed than the other? Why pick one over the other?

I'm also aware they follow a different order; is there a table or chart that matches them up?

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  • If you are a beginner, definitely Sefer Hachinuch. Sefer Hamitzvos is very technical. If not a beginner, they're both really important, but Sefer Hamitzvos (from the Rambam) is the original source that Sefer Hachinuch uses.
    – MichoelR
    Jul 28, 2023 at 16:27
  • I believe Sefer hachinuch acrually explains very simply each mitzvah and where it comes from because it was written to teach a child, so I recommend studying that Jul 28, 2023 at 22:35
  • Welcome to MiYodeya Ami and thanks for this first question. Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    Jul 29, 2023 at 19:21
  • Sefer hamitzvos is a translation with some points being controversially and potentially not true to the original text by the Rambam.
    – Dude
    Jul 30, 2023 at 4:12

1 Answer 1

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The Sefer HaChinuch explains the 613 mitzvot, specifically it brings for each mitzva

  • its source and a short explanation
  • the purpose of the mitzva (some of it anyway)
  • some of its laws with references in the Talmud and halachic codes to learn more
  • and to whom this applies (e.g., men/women, people in Israel or elsewhere)

It is written very pedagogically as it was originally written by a father for his teen son and friends to learn on Shabbat afternoons.

The Sefer Hachinuch follows the order of the Sefer Hamitzvot of the Rambam, listed according to the order of the weekly Torah portion. It can be learned at different levels. I literally finished yesterday to learn it with my 12-year daughter over a year or so (45 mins a week) and she loved it, on the advice of our Rav, we skipped over the detail of many commandments which don't apply today.

If you can afford it, I would recommend the excellent elucidation by artscroll which exists in English and Hebrew.

Sefer Hamitzvot is a much more terse description of the mitzvot, which is good to get a sense of the list, but doesn't give you much depth.

You can see both for yourself on Sefaria: Sefer Hamitzvot here and Sefer HaChinuch here.

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  • Note Sefer HaMitzvos (as we have it) and Sefer HaChinuch differ in exactly one mitzvah, as I noted here.
    – robev
    Jul 29, 2023 at 20:45
  • Also worth noting that the Sefer HaMitzvos doesn't seem to have any clear order, which can be confusing. It seems to be somewhat thematic.
    – robev
    Jul 29, 2023 at 20:46

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