The Rambam wrote small introductions to sections of Mishna Torah called a Koteret. In the introduction to Hilchos Talmud Torah he writes:

יש בכללן שתי מצוות עשה--(א) ללמוד תורה; (ב) לכבד מלמדיה ויודעיה. וביאור שתי מצוות אלו בפרקים אלו.

A Mitzvah to learn Torah and a Mitzvah to honor those who learn it and know it.

In the Minyan Hamitzvot Hakatzar , however, he lists, as the 11th positive commandment:

(לִלְמֹד תּוֹרָה וּלְלַמְּדָהּ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר: "וְשִׁנַּנְתָּם לְבָנֶיךָ" (דברים ו, ז.

To learn Torah and teach it, as is said: "And you shall teach your children" (Deut. 6:7)

Why does Rambam omit the obligation to teach Torah from the Koteret to Hilchos Talmud Torah, when he includes it in the associated Mitzvah listing? He could have easily included "וּלְלַמְּדָהּ" in the Koteret as well.

  • @mevaqesh, off the cuff speculation - because teaching only applies to a father of a son or a חכם, whereas learning applies more broadly.
    – Yishai
    Commented May 26, 2015 at 15:44
  • @Yishai not sure I can agree with your speculation. The process of talmud torah is intrinsically "lilmod al manas lilamed." There's a gemara in chagigah discussing hakhel that explains that "lima'an yilmidu" exempts the mute because they CANNOT TEACH (even though they can learn). Commented May 27, 2015 at 13:35
  • 1
    I'll bet that it has something to do with the learning and teaching being intrinsically intertwined, as indicated by the Halachot first describing an obligation to teach and then going into "and if you haven't been taught, you have to teach yourself." That doesn't really explain either the omission or the discrepancy, but it's probably part of the conceptual framework that does.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 13:43
  • @IsaacKotlicky, maybe, but כל הראוי לבילה אין בילה מעקבת בו. The fact that the potential to teach is required doesn't obligate everyone who knows only one Halacha to teach it. The Rambam, at any rate, doesn't make such a requirement.
    – Yishai
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 13:46
  • 1
    @IsaacKotlicky, note also that an אילם is not listed in Hilchos Talmud Torah as potur.
    – Yishai
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 14:17

1 Answer 1


I heard from R' Moshe Einstadter that the purpose of the Koteres is to define the nature of the mitzvah, as opposed to describing how to fulfill the mitzvah, which is what the halachos listed under each category proceed to do. If my memory serves me correctly, he even used this as an example, and explained that the definition of the mitzvah is to learn Torah, and one aspect of the performance of the mitzvah, the מעשה מצוה as R' Einstadter put it, is teaching, which is included in the very beginning of the halachos of this topic.

  • Fascinating. If you could clarify this point with him I would greatly appreciate it.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented May 29, 2015 at 1:37
  • (1) Why then did he add "וללמדה" where he did? (2) Also (not mentioned in the question), when he listed the Mitzvot according to the division into books (at the end of the intro), he omitted "וללמדה" there too. There, he doesn't have Halakhot or anything to elaborate the performance of the Mitzvah. Why omit it there also?
    – Tamir Evan
    Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 15:42
  • @mevaqesh which point needs clarification? I speak to him occasionally and could ask.
    – jim
    Commented Dec 13, 2015 at 4:11
  • @jim If he indeed applied this to this Rambam, and if so, how exactly.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 3:50

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .