The Ramban’s Emendations to the Taryag Mitzvos – pt. II

Throughout the Rambam’s list, we have noted that the Ramban (Nachmanides) does not count certain statements in the Torah among the 613 mitzvos. For example, the Ramban doesn’t count the four types of capital punishment as separate mitzvos. So what does he count? Following are what the Ramban adds to make up for his deletions from the Rambam’s list. (It still comes out to 248 positive mitzvos and 365 negative mitzvos.) You will note that the lists of the Rambam and the Ramban are not so radically different. Sometimes, the Ramban counts one mitzvah of the Rambam as two separate mitzvos; sometimes he counts multiple mitzvos of the Rambam as a single mitzvah. At the end of the day, there are very few significant differences of opinion. (The obligation to live in Israel is a pretty big one!) Most of the differences of opinion, however, involve different ways of dividing the same pie.

36. Not to wage war against Seir. “Do not wage war against them…” (Deuteronomy 2:5).

37. Not to wage war against Moab. “Do not aggrieve Moab or wage war against them” (Deuteronomy 2:9).

38. Not to wage war against Ammon. “Do not harass them or wage war against them” (Deuteronomy 2:19).

39. Not to forget the revelation at Sinai. “Beware…lest you forget…the day you stood before Hashem your God at Horeb” (Deuteronomy 4:9-10).

40. To recite the Shema (a) in the morning and (b) at night – counted by Rambam as a single obligation in Mitzvah #420.

41. Not to forget faith in God. “Beware lest you forget God, the One Who took you out of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 6:12).

42. To make a chest to hold the luchos (the tablets of the law). “You shall make a wooden chest” (Deuteronomy 10:1).

43. To judge capital cases in court. The Ramban consolidates in a single mitzvah what the Rambam has as four mitzvos.

44. Not to eat a bird slaughtered as part of a metzora’s purification process. “This is the one from which you shall not eat” (Deuteronomy 14:12). See Talmud Kiddushin 57a.

45. To eat the flesh of a first-born animal and second tithe in Jerusalem. “You shall eat before God…the tithe of your grain…and the first born of your cattle and sheep” (Deuteronomy 14:23).

46. (a) To separate maaser ani (b) and to give it to the poor – counted by Rambam as a single obligation in Mitzvah #474.

47. Not to begrudge giving charity. “It shall not be bad in your heart to give it to him” (Deuteronomy 15:10).

48. Not to begrudge releasing an eved Ivri. “It shall not be hard in your eyes when you send him away free…” (Deuteronomy 15:18).

49. To eat terumah only when it is ritually pure. “In your gates you shall eat (non-sanctified food), the ritually impure with the ritually pure” (Deuteronomy 15:22). See Talmud Yevamos 73b.

50. To intercalate the years by adding a leap month when necessary. “Guard the month of the spring” (Deuteronomy 16:1). Rambam includes this in Mitzvah #4.

51. Not to slaughter a sacrifice with the intention of an improper time or place, or any unfit sacrifice. “Do not slaughter for God…any bad thing” (Deuteronomy 17:1).

52. Not to accept testimony in a capital case from witnesses who were not together. “He shall not die because of one witness” (Deuteronomy 17:6). Rambam includes this in Mitzvah #523.

53. (a) To separate terumah gedolah and (b) to give it to a kohein – counted by Rambam as a single obligation in Mitzvah #507.

54. To follow God wholeheartedly. “You shall be complete with Hashem your God” (Deuteronomy 18:13).

55. Not to have mercy on a murderer. “Your eye shall not pity him…” (Deuteronomy 19:13). (This appears to be identical with Rambam’s Mitzvah #521. A discussion of the matter is beyond our scope.)

56. For a coward not to go to war. “He shall not cause his brothers’ hearts to melt like his” (Deuteronomy 20:8).

57. To eat the fruit of trees in a city’s boundaries during a siege. “When you go to war…do not destroy the trees…from it you shall eat” (Deuteronomy 20:19).

58. Not to benefit from an eglah arufah. “Forgive your nation, Israel…” (Deuteronomy 21:8). See Talmud Kiddushin 57a for how this is derived.

59. Not to bypass a first-born son’s inheritance rights. “You may not give the share of the first born…” (Deuteronomy 21:16).

60. To give the first born a double share of the inheritance from the father. “The first born…he shall acknowledge with a double portion” (Deuteronomy 21:17).

61. Not to allow (a) an Ammonite and (b) a Moabite to marry in – counted by Rambam as a single obligation in Mitzvah #561.

62. Not to do things in battle that would cause God’s presence to depart. “When you go out…guard yourselves from every bad thing” (Deuteronomy 23:10).

63. Not to bring to the Temple (a) a prostitute’s wages or (b) the exchange of a dog – counted by Rambam as a single obligation in Mitzvah #571.

64. To fulfill what one commits to do in terms of (a) bringing sacrifices and (b) forbidding things upon oneself – counted by Rambam as a single prohibition in Mitzvah #575.

65. (a) A man may not continue to have relations with a wife who was unfaithful and (b) he may not remarry an ex-wife after she married another man – counted by Rambam as a single prohibition in Mitzvah #580.

66. The court may not allow a man to remarry his ex-wife after she married another man. “Do not cause the land to sin” (Deuteronomy 24:4).

67. For a groom in the first year of marriage not to go out (a) to war or (b) for public service – counted by Rambam as a single prohibition in Mitzvah #581.

68. To recall what God did to Miriam. “Remember what Hashem your God did to Miriam…” (Deuteronomy 24:9).

69. A yavam may not have relations with a yevamah after chalitzah. “…who will not build up his brother’s house” (Deuteronomy 25:9).

70. To recite the blessing over Torah study. “When I call the Name of Hashem, ascribe greatness to our God” (Deuteronomy 32:3).