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The Rambam on the commandment:

"And My Holy Temple you shall revere"

Below we have quoted the first seven sections of the seventh chapter, Laws of the Chosen House, from the eighth volume, entitled The Book of the Temple Service, of Rambam's The Mishna Torah. (To learn more about the Rambam, click here.) These opening sections deal specifically with the laws concerning how one is to show the appropriate reverence for the Holy Temple, both while it stood, and after its destruction. This represents an extremely clear pronouncement of the practical application of the commandment, "... and My Holy Temple you shall revere" (Leviticus 19:30). The positive commandment of visiting the site of the Holy Temple, even after its destruction, applies to every generation.

We present the original Hebrew text, followed by an English translation, and a short synopsis of each section. (In order to read the complete text, please use the scroll-bar to the right of the text below.):

The Rambam: A Short Biography
Moses ben Maimon, alternately known as Maimonides, or the Rambam, (being the acronym for Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon), was born in Cordoba, Spain in the year 1135. When the Muslim Almohades came to power in 1148, and began pursuing a policy toward non-Moslems of convert-or-die, Moshe ben Maimon and his family left Spain, and resettled in first in Morroco, then Israel, and finally in Egypt. The Rambam was a physician, and among his patients was none other than the Sultan of Egypt. In his writings the Rambam describes his long exhausting days, in which he had to divide his time between seeing patients, attending to the Sultan, being consulted in his role as leader of the Jewish community of Egypt, and of course, writing. The Rambam's most well known work is the 14 volume Mishna Torah, (literally, The Repetition of the Torah), which was the first attempt to systematically codify the entire body of Jewish law, (halachah). This work became the basis for later codifications, most notably, the Shulkhan Arukh, written by Yoseph Karo, in the 16th century.

The Mishna Torah is an invaluable source for our work at The Temple Institute, as it deals extensively with laws concerning the service at the Holy Temple, as well as the physical structure of the Holy Temple, and the specific dimensions and qualifications for the vessels used in the Holy Temple. What we have excerpted above, is taken from the the eighth volume of the Mishna Torah, The Book of the Temple Service, the chapter entitled, Laws of the Chosen House. In these opening sections of the chapter, the Rambam discusses the commandment of "revering the Holy Temple," based on the verse from Leviticus 19:30: "... and my Holy Temple you shall revere."

The Rambam died in the year 1204, and was buried in the city of Tiberius. When he died, the Jews of Egypt observed three days of mourning, and, quoting from I Samuel 4:11, declared, "The ark of the L-rd has been taken." His grave is a site of pilgrimage to this day. The 800th anniversary of his death was recently commemorated. The Rambam is held in such universal high regard by the Jewish people, that the following phrase is often quoted: "From Moses (of the Torah) to Moses (Maimonides) there was none like Moses."

To learn about the Rambam's personal odyssey from North Africa to the Temple Mount, where he prayed, and for a translation of the letter in which he describes his journey and its profound spiritual and emotional impact, click here.

 

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