Do other authorities agree with Ramban that "There are no mitzvot in" Sefer Bamidbar "that are customary for generations" for Israelites (except perhaps for Levites and Priests)?

In Regards to Sefer Bamidbar, Ramban wrote ( in https://www.sefaria.org/Numbers.1.1?lang=bi&with=Ramban&lang2=bi ) " ואין בספר הזה מצוות נוהגות לדורות, זולתי קצת מצוות בעניני הקרבנות שהתחיל בהן בספר הכהנים, " (Translation: "There are no mitzvot in this book that are customary for generations, except for a few mitzvot concerning the sacrifices that were instituted in the book of the Kohanim").

Any Agreements, why? Any Disagreements, why?

I ask this, in part, because of the 57 Commandments (from the 613 Commandments [here quoted from Maimonides]) listed in Sefer Bamidbar, one can see quite a few that appears to be applicable for generations for any average Jew.

These particular 57 Commandments listed in Sefer Bamidbar (grouped below in fives, for the most part, for easy reference [here quoted from Maimonides]) are:

To send the impure from the Temple — Num. 5:2 Impure people must not enter the Temple — Num. 5:3 To repent and confess wrongdoings — Num. 5:7 Not to put oil on her meal offering (as usual) — Num. 5:15 Not to put frankincense on her meal offering (as usual) — Num. 5:15

To fulfill the laws of the Sotah — Num. 5:30 The Nazirite must let his hair grow — Num. 6:5 He must not cut his hair — Num. 6:5 He must not drink wine, wine mixtures, or wine vinegar — Num. 6:3 He must not eat fresh grapes — Num. 6:3

He must not eat raisins — Num. 6:3 He must not eat grape seeds — Num. 6:4 He must not eat grape skins — Num. 6:4 He must not be under the same roof as a corpse — Num. 6:6 He must not come into contact with the dead — Num. 6:7

He must shave his head after bringing sacrifices upon completion of his Nazirite period — Num. 6:9 The Kohanim must bless the Jewish nation daily — Num. 6:23 The Levites must transport the ark on their shoulders — Num. 7:9 To hear the Shofar on the first day of Tishrei (Rosh Hashanah) — Num. 9:1 To slaughter the second Paschal Lamb — Num. 9:11

To eat the second Paschal Lamb on the night of the 15th of Iyar — Num. 9:11 Not to break any bones from the second paschal offering — Num. 9:12 Not to leave the second paschal meat over until morning — Num. 9:12 To afflict oneself and cry out before God in times of calamity — Num. 10:9 To set aside a portion of dough for a Kohen — Num. 15:20

To have tzitzit on four-cornered garments — Num. 15:38 Not to follow the whims of your heart or what your eyes see — Num. 15:39 To guard the Temple area — Num. 18:2 No Levite must do another's work of either a Kohen or a Levite — Num. 18:3 One who is not a Kohen must not serve — Num. 18:4

Not to leave the Temple unguarded — Num. 18:5 To redeem firstborn sons and give the money to a Kohen — Num. 18:15 Not to redeem the firstborn — Num. 18:17 The Levites must work in the Temple — Num. 18:23 To set aside Ma'aser each planting year and give it to a Levite — Num. 18:24

The Levite must set aside a tenth of his tithe — Num. 18:26 Carry out the procedure of the Red Heifer — Num. 19:2 Carry out the laws of impurity of the dead — Num. 19:14 Carry out the laws of the sprinkling water — Num. 19:21 Carry out the laws of the order of inheritance — Num. 27:8

To offer two lambs every day — Num. 28:3 To bring two additional lambs as burnt offerings on Shabbat — Num. 28:9 To bring additional offerings on Rosh Chodesh — Num. 28:11 To bring additional offerings on Passover — Num. 28:19 To bring additional offerings on Shavuot — Num. 28:26

To bring additional offerings on Rosh Hashana — Num. 29:2 To bring additional offerings on Yom Kippur — Num. 29:8 To bring additional offerings on Sukkot — Num. 29:13 To bring additional offerings on Shmini Atzeret — Num. 29:35 Not to break oaths or vows — Num. 30:3

For oaths and vows annulled, there are the laws of annulling vows explicit in the Torah — Num. 30:3 To give the Levites cities to inhabit and their surrounding fields — Num. 35:2 Not to kill the murderer before he stands trial — Num. 35:12 Not to pity the pursuer — Num. 35:12 The court must send the accidental murderer to a city of refuge — Num. 35:25

Not to accept monetary restitution to atone for the murderer — Num. 35:31 Not to accept monetary restitution instead of being sent to a city of refuge — Num. 35:32

  • There are varying lists as to the 613 mitzvos. Whose list are you using? Whoever wrote that list clearly disagrees with the Ramban.
    – DonielF
    Aug 14, 2017 at 13:04
  • So you’re using the Rambam’s list, then. His isn’t the only list out there. And that answers your question - the Rambam argues on the Ramban.
    – DonielF
    Aug 14, 2017 at 13:12
  • Rambam is one (presumably disagreeing) authority (against Ramban). Anybody else? Preferably older.
    – ninamag
    Aug 14, 2017 at 13:13
  • But my question is the opposite, "Do other authorities agree with Ramban"?
    – ninamag
    Aug 14, 2017 at 13:15

1 Answer 1


It's not entirely clear what the Ramban means with this statement. There are few problems with it.

One is the Ramban agrees with the Rambam's list of the 613 mitzvos, with only 25 exceptions (see here, although the only answer so far only lists the ones Ramban added, not the ones he took away). Most if not all the mitzvos you listed the Ramban agrees with.

Second, as Rav Chaim Palagi points out in his sefer UBacharta BaChaim, many of the mitzvos you listed have nothing to do with korbonos. He lists vidui (although it originates with korbonos, it applies to non temple settings as well), birkas kohanim (also used to be in the temple but applies outside the temple), challah, tzitzis, lo sasuru, pidyon bechor, inheritance laws, shofar, nedarim as examples. He proposes amending the words of Ramban to read: ואין בספר הזה מצוות נוהגות לדורות, זולתי קצת מצוות ובעניני הקרבנות, adding a vav to mean: "There are no mitzvos in this book that apply for all times, except a few mitzvos, and some ideas about korbonos". However he feels this to be an unlikely solution, and leaves the question unresolved.

Essentially it's questionable if the Ramban literally means that there aren't non temple mitzvos in Sefer Bamidbar that apply for all times. Due to the numerous examples listed above, I find it unlikely if anyone would agree to that statement.

  • tzitzis, pidyon bechor, shofar are all in other places too so its not clear ramban considered this there "place" (whatever that means). but in general yes he probably must mean something like "barely" has any mitzvot
    – Double AA
    Aug 14, 2017 at 14:36
  • @DoubleAA can't disagree. Although Rav Chaim Palagi's issue with this approach is if the Ramban starts off saying "there are no mitzvos", and then says "except some", then there are mitzvos. Who cares if its few or a lot, although I don't 100% understand what he means.
    – robev
    Aug 14, 2017 at 14:37
  • 1
    Has any contemporary of Ramban, or even a generation after him, question this statement of his?
    – ninamag
    Aug 15, 2017 at 19:04

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