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The printing of Rambam's Mishneh Torah by Hotza'at Shabsi Frankel was a revolutionary achievement. The publishers searched the globe for the earliest and most authoritative manuscripts and attempted to achieve the most reliable version of the text. They also compiled what is called the Mafteach, a cross-referencing index of any mention of the Rambam, or it’s “Nosei Keilim”, in thousands of ancient and contemporary seforim.

Another alternative element of the printing of this set is the unusual breakdown of the volumes. The Mishneh Torah is comprised of fourteen books, and the Frankel Rambam reproduces it as such. However, instead of numbering the books 1-14 (or א through יד, in this case), they refer to Madda as א* and Ahava as א**. Then they continue a standard numbering sequence through ו, at which point we find Avoda as ז* followed by Korbanot as ז**. Thus, although there are fourteen volumes in the set, the numbering only reaches 12, יב. We are led to believe that Madda-Ahava and Avoda-Korbanot are somehow unified sections. (see the picture in the link above)

Why is the Frankel Rambam divided the way it is? Why did the publishers choose to number the volumes in this counter-intuitive fashion? Is there any grounds to suggest some innate connection between those volumes - and if so, why was it never done before?

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  • Why is the Frankel Rambam divided the way it is? Why did the publishers choose to number the volumes in this counter-intuitive fashion Have you contacted Frankel about why they chose this format? This seems primarily a question about the activities of a few Jews. It is they who would know best. – mevaqesh Mar 5 '17 at 18:47
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    @mevaqesh yes I am. They printed fourteen discrete books, paralleling the Rambam's 14 Sefarim, yet number them in a completely counter-intuitive way that couples Madda-Ahava as part of א. This leads a reader to assume they are more connected than the other Sefarim. – Chaim Mar 5 '17 at 18:48
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    I also asked "Is there any grounds to suggest some innate connection between those volumes", broadening this question to include the possibility that they had Jewish reasons for doing so. – Chaim Mar 5 '17 at 18:50
  • Note the unique nature of the division here from other works you mentioned. Here, they have kept each Sefer in an independent volume, yet for some reason label them as if they are connected. – Chaim Mar 5 '17 at 18:53
  • in volumes that I know korbanot is 7. 1 mada, 1* ahava 2 zmanim, 3 nashim, 4 kedusha, 5 Haflaa, ... – kouty Mar 5 '17 at 22:09
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I wrote to Hotzaat Shabsi Frankel with this inquiry, and they responded that the unusual numbering is due to a misguided guess at how many volumes the set would ultimately be:

Thanks for your inquiry. Yes, it is because of the order in which it was published, and the expectations of how many volumes we would end up with. At the end there were more volumes then originally expected. We will in the future correct this issue.

So since they didn't publish the Mishneh Torah in order but rather jumped around, the miscalculated how much space each Sefer would take up, and so they had to adapt as things developed.

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When they originally planned out the numbering, they expected to only need one volume each for those works, and they therefore numbered accordingly. Subsequently, the works improved dramatically in quality and research (as more talmidei chachamim became involved), resulting, e.g. in longer maftechoth in the backs of the later volumes. This resulted in the need for separate devoted volumes and an unusual numbering system.

  • How does this explain numbering avoda as 7 and korbanot 7b? Didn't they realize the scope issue after they finished the first few volumes? – Double AA Mar 6 '17 at 3:48
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    You must mean that they originally expected NOT to need one volume per book (but rather, less), and that Avoda and Korbanot would be contained in a single volume. -- Not too satisfying, as Kinyan is very slim even in Frankel's current edition. – Chaim Mar 6 '17 at 4:01
  • @Chaim by "work" I mean the intended volume (madda+ahava and avoda+korbanoth). – Loewian Mar 6 '17 at 5:01
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    @DoubleAA They were not published in order. Zmanim was the first, published in 1975. Nezikin was published in 1982. Avodah was only published in 1994. Thus when they printed Nezikin, they thought Avodah-Korbonos will fit in one. Same with Mada-Ahava. – lionscribe Mar 6 '17 at 7:17
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    @Double AA Each volume has its original publication year (in Hebrew) on the cover page, as well as the year of the last printing. I took the dates from there. – lionscribe Mar 7 '17 at 6:33

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