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Rambam's Mishna Torah is a foremost halachic source. I've been very interested lately in the history of Halacha – I've just begun learning Mishna Torah for the first time – and was wondering if anyone can share insight on how Rambam actually developed ideas he presents in his Mishna Torah. What decisions did he need to make? Which ancient sources did he go to?

The ideas need to have a historical precedent otherwise they are really just born out of Rambam's own mind. So what is the link between M"T and previous Jewish works?

closed as too broad by mevaqesh, Danny Schoemann, DonielF, Shmuel Brin, sabbahillel May 25 '17 at 21:19

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    Read the little letters printed on the side – user6591 Apr 17 '16 at 20:18
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    user6591 right, almost all halacha is from Rif or Ri Migash. You can perhaps precise what you mean by Ideas. the great majority of Mishne Tora is massoret neto. The Natsiv on introduction to his comment of the Sheiltos may be also an interesting reading for you. – kouty Apr 17 '16 at 21:12
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    In addition to the Rif, the Rambam reports that he had access to original editions of the talmud which demonstrated the popular versions available at his time (and ours for that matter) were littered with copyist errors. He was also a student of secular jurisprudence, which was becoming very sophisticated. He was of the school where one deduces a general principle and applies it to novel circumstances instead of rote memorization of precedent and analogy which was previously popular. This is why is law code reads like a modern restatement. – ShamanSTK Apr 17 '16 at 21:43
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    Reishis chachma yiras Hashem – Dude Apr 18 '16 at 1:57
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    Possible dupe: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/57422/8775 – mevaqesh May 25 '17 at 13:51
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The questions you're asking are exactly the questions that the commentaries on Rambam have grappled with ever since Mishneh Torah was published. For each halacha, see the Kesef Mishneh, the Maggid Mishneh, the other commentaries on the page, Reb Chaim, and the list goes on. In every case, the commentaries seek to pin down where in Talmud Bavli (or more rarely, Yerushalmi) Rambam found his halachos.

While there is a lot of disagreement as to how he understood various topics, it is certainly the case that he had sources for everything he said in Talmud, Geonim, and early Rishonim.

  • Yehoshua Kahan, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for this informative answer! I hope you'll stick around and find other information of interest hear, perhaps among our many other rambam questions. Please consider registering your account, to enable more site features, including voting. – Isaac Moses May 25 '17 at 13:54

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