Sefer HaChinnuch Classes
Rabbi Weinberg's weekly classes on Sefer HaChinuch:
February 22, 2006
Mitzvot 5,6, & 7:: The Passover Offering
March 28, 2006
Mitzvot 9,10,11: Chametz and Matzah
April 5, 2006
Mitzvah 12: Not to eat Chametz
Mitzvot 13-15: The Passover Offering
Mitzvah 16: Including the Rationale for Performing Mitzvot
April 26, 2006
Mitzvot 18-21: The Pidyon HaBen; Chametz; The Haggadah
May 3, 2006
Mitzvah 22-23: Firstborn Donkeys (The Concept of Consecration)
Mitzvah 24: The Limits of Travel on Shabbat (The Nature of Melachah)
Mitzvah 25: The Belief in God (The Limits of Faith and Intellect)
May 24, 2006
Mitzvah 26: To Believe in No Divinity But God
June 11, 2006
Mitzvah 26: Not to Swear Using the Name in Vain
June 28, 2006 (last class)
Mitzvot 31: kiddush, kaddish, mourning on Shabbat
standing for the Ten Commandments, melachah,
reasons for mitzvot
These classes are based on the Sefer HaChinuch (Book of Education). We are not sure who the author of this fascinating book is. It was published anonymously in 13th Century Spain, and its author has retained a measure of anonymity. He simply described himself as a "Jew from the tribe of Levi." The first printed edition of this book appeared in 1523 in Venice.
Most believe that the author's name was Aaron. Some scholars ascribe the authorship of Sefer ha-Chinuch to Rabbi Aharon HaLevi of Barcelona (1235-c. 1290), a Talmudic scholar and halakhist. Others disagree, as the views of the Chinuch contradict opinions held by HaLevi in other works. This has led to the conclusion that the true author to Sefer HaChinuch was a different Reb Aharon Halevi, a student of the Rashba, rather than his colleague.
The author groups the mitzvot (commandments) by the parashah(weekly Torah portion) in which they appear. The author states that he wrote the book for his young son, so that the son and his friends would be able to discuss the weekly portion on each Shabbat. The work's identification of the 613 commandments is based upon Maimonides' system of counting, as per his Sefer Hamitzvot.
The Sefer HaChinuch lists and discusses each commandment (mitzvah), in the order that it appears in the Torah. Because of this structure, the work remains popular to this day. The philosophic portions are widely quoted and taught, while the legal discussion provides the basis for much further study in yeshivot, where the Minchat Chinuch by "Rabbeinu Yosef" (Yosef Ben Moshe Babad, 1800-1874), Av Beit Din of Ternopil - serves as a legal commentary.The book separately discusses each of the 613 commandments, both from a legal and a moral perspective. For each, the discussion starts by linking the mitzvah to its Biblical source, and then addresses the philosophical underpinnings of the commandment. Following this, the Chinuch presents a brief overview of the practical Jewish law governing its observance - usually based on Maimonides Mishneh Torah - and closes with a summary as to the commandment's applicability.
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