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Rambam - Sefer HaMitzvos
As Divided for The Daily Learning Schedule

Positive Mitzvah 165;
Negative Mitzvah 329;
Positive Mitzvah 164;
Negative Mitzvah 196


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Introduction to Mitzvot 159 - 167

The Sacredness of Holidays

Jewish holidays are not just vacation days when we have off from school or work and have time to spend with our families.

Rather, they were proclaimed as holy days by HaShem.

Some commemorate historical events.

Others provide us with special opportunities to come close to HaShem and strengthen our service to Him.

Even those connected with our past do not merely recall our people's history.

Each holiday has its own message for our lives today.

For example, the holiday of Pesach commemorates the Exodus from Egypt. Thank G-d, today, we are not physically enslaved by any master!

But each one of us has our own "miniature Egypt" within ourselves.

It is that mischievous Yetzer Ha'Rah - evil inclination, always tempting us with his inappropriate ideas!

Sometimes, we fall prey to his cunning advice. He becomes our master and we obediently follow his direction.

When the holiday of Pesach arrives, we are urged to liberate ourselves from that "enslavement."

When we follow HaShem's commandments applying to the laws of Pesach, we find ourselves celebrating our exodus from Egypt and our personal freedom from the Yetzer Ha'Rah.

We show him who is the real master and we "enslave him" - using his endless energy to fulfill the will of HaShem.

The Torah uses the term Mikrah Kodesh, which means, "a sacred holiday."

Besides the special laws concerning each individual holiday, this term implies that the day be one where work is not done, like Shabbat.

There is a difference between the total rest commanded by the Torah on Shabbat and Yom Kippur and the rest which is commanded on other holidays.

There are certain laws and guidelines applying to necessary work in preparing food on the holiday.

Outside of Eretz Yisrael, an extra day is added to all holidays, except for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. (Rosh HaShana is observed for 2 days even in Eretz Yisrael and Yom Kippur is only one day.)


Positive Mitzvah 165: Resting on Yom Kippur
Leviticus 16:31 "It shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for you"

Yom Kippur is considered the most sacred of all days.

On this day, we are commanded to rest and stop all weekday activity. (See Negative Mitzvah 329)


Introduction to Mitzvot 323 - 329

The prohibition of work on festivals

HaShem commanded us to celebrate each festival in its own unique way, but He prohibited us to do work on all those days which we are commanded to regard and sanctify as holidays.

We learn which types of work that are forbidden on Yom Tov from the laws of Shabbat.

However, there are some differences in the laws of preparing food and certain activities associated with Yom Tov joy.


Negative Mitzvah 329: It is forbidden to work on Yom Kippur
Leviticus 23:28. "And you shall do no work on that very same day; for it is a day of atonement"

We are commanded not to do any work on the holy day of Yom Kippur.


Positive Mitzvah 164: Fasting on Yom Kippur
Leviticus 16:29 "In the seventh month, on the tenth day of that month, you must afflict your souls"

HaShem granted us a special opportunity on the holy day of Yom Kippur.

On this day, we stand before Him in prayer and service asking Him to forgive us for all our sins. He promises to accept our prayers on this holy day and help us begin anew.

All year, we are often only concerned with ourselves.

We strive to provide ourselves and our families with all those things that make us feel good. We busy ourselves with preparing tasty food and drinks and comfortable surroundings.

On this holy day, when we are standing before HaShem, we should concern ourselves with doing Teshuvah and resolving to fulfill the Mitzvot properly.

We are not preoccupied with our natural pleasures like food and drink. Yom Kippur is so sacred that we can sense the holiness and this lifts us above our everyday physical concerns.

We are commanded to fast on Yom Kippur and conduct ourselves in a holy way.


Negative Mitzvah 196: It is prohibited to eat on Yom Kippur
Leviticus 23:29 "For any person that shall not be afflicted on that same day, shall be cut off from his people"

Yom Kippur is a very holy day. We spend most of the day praying and asking forgiveness from HaShem for all our sins and ask that He grant us a good year.

On Yom Kippur, we are forbidden to eat anything.

Boys under the age of thirteen and girls younger than twelve, may eat because otherwise, they might become weak and unhealthy.


The world is not predictable. Determinism is a leftover artifact of the nineteenth century. All we can say is that there are some loose rules by which G-d generally plays.

From: Bringing Heaven Down to Earth by Tzvi Freeman - tzvif@aol.com


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