Code of Jewish Law

Type: Code of Law

Sefer Mitzvot Gadol

("The Great Book of Commandments")

Author

Rabbi Moses ben Jacob of Coucy

Dates

First half of the 13th century

Place

Coucy, France

Description

This work, usually designated by its acronym, the "SeMa"G," classifies Jewish law according to the traditional enumeration of 613 commandments.

The work is divided into two sections. The first deals with the 365 negative precepts of the Torah, and the second with the 248 positive precepts. References to the "SeMa"G" are by Section (Positive or Negative) and Commandment Number within each section.

Rabbi Moses' arrangement and presentation are heavily influenced by Maimonides' classification of the precepts and by his formulations in the Mishneh Torah. However unlike Maimonides, he presents lengthy discussions of the different interpretations and legal opinions.

Rabbi Moses also makes extensive use of other codes, and particularly of the commentaries of Rashi and the Tosafot, usually favouring the French and German traditions over Maimonides.

The "SeMa"G" also contains much non-legal, moralistic teaching.

It is likely that the need for a compilation of this sort was driven by the decrees against the Talmud which had been promulgated in France, and had led to the confiscation and burning of all Talmud manuscripts in 1242.


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