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Sefer Hachinuch

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Subject: Tefillin, Animal sacrifice, Mitzvah, Joseph Babad, Zav
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Sefer Hachinuch

The Sefer ha-Chinuch (ספר החינוך Hebrew: "Book of Education"), often simply "the Chinuch" is a work which systematically discusses the 613 commandments of the Torah. It was published anonymously in 13th century Spain. The work's enumeration of the commandments (Hebrew: mitzvot‎; sing. mitzvah) is based upon Maimonides' system of counting as per his Sefer Hamitzvot; each is listed according to its appearance in the weekly Torah portion and the work is structured correspondingly.[1]

The "Book of Education" 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 (here, termed the "shoresh", or "root"). Following this, the Chinuch presents a brief overview of the halakha (practical Jewish law) governing its observance - usually based on Maimonides' Mishneh Torah - and closes with a summary as to the commandment's applicability.

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. The Minchat Chinuch by "Rabbeinu Yosef" (Yosef Ben Moshe Babad, 1800–1874), Av Beit Din of Ternopil, serves as a legal commentary.


The sixteenth century author Gedaliah ibn Yaḥyah credited the Sefer ha-Chinuch to Rabbi Aharon HaLevi of Barcelona (1235-c. 1290), a Talmudic scholar and halakhist; but others disagree, as the views of the Chinuch contradict opinions held by HaLevi in other works.[2] 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.[3][4][5]

In 1980, Professor Israel Ta-Shma of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem demonstrated convincingly that the author of "Sefer ha-Chinuch" was in fact Pinchas as the son of Elazar and the grandson of Aaron, who had written the work.[6]

See also



  • Translation: The Book of Mitzvah Education. Charles Wengrow. Feldheim 1992. ISBN 1-58330-383-9
  • Discussion: A Philosophy of Mitzvot. Gersion Appel. Ktav 1975. ISBN 0-87068-250-4
  • Classes: . Rabbi David Botton.

External links and references

  • alternate
  • Jewish Encyclopedia Ha-Chinuch
  • Jewish Encyclopedia Aaron ben Joseph Ha-Levi
  • Jewish Encyclopedia Aaron ha-Levi of Barcelona
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