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THIS TRANSLATION IS COPYRIGHT (C) IMMANUEL M. O'LEVY, 1993.THIS TRANSLATION MAY BE DISTRIBUTED IN ANY FORM (ON DISK, PRINTED, ETC)PROVIDED THAT IT IS DONE SO ON A NON-PROFIT BASIS AND THAT THIS COPYRIGHTAND CONDITIONS MESSAGE IS LEFT ATTACHED.THE TEXT USED FOR THIS TRANSLATION WAS THE RAMBAM LE'AM, PUBLISHED BYMOSSAD HA'RAV KOOK, JERUSALEM.  WORDS IN THE TEXT THAT ARE IN SQUAREBRACKETS DO NOT APPEAR IN THE RAMBAM'S WRITINGS.  BRITISH SPELLING HASBEEN USED, AND SEPHARDIT PRONUNCIATION HAS BEEN USED FOR WORDS ANDPHRASES THAT HAVE BEEN TRANSLITERATED.COMMENTS ARE WELCOME BY EMAIL - imo@medphys.ucl.ac.uk===========================================================================                   THE LAWS OF THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF THE TORAHThese chapters discuss the following six positive commandments and fournegative commandments:1)   To recognise God.2)   Not even to speculate that there might be a god other than God.3)   To unify God.4)   To love God.5)   To have fear of God.6)   To sanctify God's Name.7)   Not to desecrate God's Name.8)   Not to destroy things on which God's Name is written.9)   To listen to a prophet who speaks in God's Name.10)  Not to test God.                                 CHAPTER ONEThis chapter explains that God, Lord of the universe and Master of theworld, existed before anything else did, that He has no body, and that thereis none other beside Him.1)   It is the most basic of basic principles and a support for wisdom toknow that there is something [namely God] that existed before anything elsedid and that He created everything that there is.  Everything in the skies, onthe ground and in between exists only because of the fact that He createdthem.2)   Let it be known that if the Creator did not exist then nothing elsewould, for nothing can exist independently of the Creator.3)   Let it further be known that if everything ceased to exist, the Creatoralone would exist and would not have ceased to exist like everything elsehad.  All things in creation are dependant upon the Creator for theircontinued existence, but He does not need any of them [for His continuedexistence].  Therefore, the reality of His existence is not like the reality ofthe existence of any creation.4)   One of the Prophets said, "But the Lord is the true God", meaningthat only God is everlasting and that nothing else is.  This is what the Torahhas said: "There is none else beside Him", namely, that there is nothing inexistence that is everlasting, except for God.5)   The Creator is the God of the world and Master of the Earth, and Heguides the [uppermost] sphere with a power that is never-ending,never-weakening and continuous.  This sphere rotates perpetually, and it isimpossible for it to rotate without being guided.  It is God who guides it,even though that He has no hand or body.6)   It is a positive commandment to know these matters, for it is written,"I am the Lord your God".  Anyone who even speculates that there mightbe a god other than the Lord is transgressing a negative commandment, forit is written, "You shall have no other gods besides Me".  Anyone whodenies this principle is [in effect] denying everything, for it is on thisimportant principle that everything depends.7)   God is not two or more entities, but a single entity of a oneness evenmore single and unique than any single thing in creation.  His oneness is notlike that of a single type which consists of many individuals [like theoneness of a species], and nor is it like the oneness of the body, whichincorporates many parts, but His oneness is absolutely unique, and there isnothing else in existence with a oneness like His.  Had God been more thana single entity, then all of them would have physical bodies, for entitiesequal in existence differ only in bodily matters.  If the Creator did have abody He would have had weaknesses and an end, for it is impossible for aphysical body that has no end to exist.  The strength of something that hasweaknesses and an end also has an end, and a limit.  The strength of ourGod is not like the strength of the body, for it has no end or pause, andperpetually guides the sphere.  Since He has no body He has no bodilyappearance, and cannot be sub-divided into different parts - therefore, it isimpossible for Him to be anything other than one.  It is a positivecommandment to know this, for it is written, "...the Lord is our God, theLord is one".8)   It has been stated in Scripture that God has no physical form, as itis written, "...that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath:there is none other".  A physical body cannot be in two places at once.  Itis also written, "...for you saw no manner of form", and, "To whom thenwill you compare Me, that I should be his equal?" - had God had a bodyit would have been similar to other bodies.9)   If so, what does the Torah mean when it says things like, "under Hisfeet" (Exodus 31:18), "written with the finger of God" (ibid), "the hand ofthe Lord" (Exodus 9:3), "the eyes of the Lord" (Genesis 38:7), "the ears ofthe Lord" (Numbers 11:1), et cetera?  These phrases are in line with thelevel of understanding of people, who can only comprehend physicalexistence, and the Torah speaks in terms that we can understand.  Allexamples of this nature are merely attributory.  For example, when itsays, "If I whet My glittering sword" - does God really have a sword anddoes He really kill with one?!  Such phrases are figurative.  Evidence forthis is that one Prophet saw God as wearing garments as white as snow,whereas another Prophet saw God as wearing crimsoned garments fromBozrah.  Moses our Teacher himself saw, at the time of the splitting ofthe Red Sea, God as a war-waging warrior, but at Sinai as a cantor to showhim the order of prayer.  This shows that God has no form or shape[because He appears different to different people].  God's appearance variesaccording to each prophetic vision and what it contains.  It is beyond Man'sintellect to investigate or comprehend [the nature of] God's existence, as itis written, "Can you find out the deep things of God?  Can you find out thepurpose of the Almighty?".10)  What motive did Moses have to comprehend [God] as it is written,"I beg of You, show me Your glory"?  Just as one can recognise aparticular person's appearance and know him to be different from otherpeople, so Moses wanted to recognise God's existence and to be able todifferentiate from everything else.  God replied to Moses that is beyond thestrengths of a living man, whose body and soul are as one, to understand thenature of His existence.  God then made to Moses things which no manbefore or since had known so that Moses comprehended - that God isdifferent in intellect from other things in existence, just as a particularperson is different in dress and intellect from all other people.  Scripturehinted at this matter by saying, "...and you shall see My back, but My faceshall not be seen".11)  Once it is known that God has no physical body it will become clearthat He doesn't experience any bodily sensations either, sensations such asformation, decomposition, occupying a physical space or size, rising orfalling [in standard], a left or right side, a need to stand or sit, et cetera. God does not exist in Time, so He has no beginning or end.  God also doesnot change, for there is nothing that can induce a change in Him.  Godcannot die, and does not live as life is known.  God also has no stupidity orwisdom as we know them, does not sleep or wake up, and does notexperience anger, merriment, joy, sadness, silence or speech as we knowthem.  The Sages said, `God does not have a need to sit, a rival, a back orweariness".12)  Since matters concerning bodily experience are such, then all wordsconnected to this mentioned in the Torah and by the Prophets are allexemplary and figures of speech.  Examples of this are: "He who sits in theheavens laughs", "...that they provoked Me to anger", "...that as the Lordrejoiced", et cetera.  The Sages said that the Torah is phrased in out terms. In Jeremiah 7:9 it says, "Do they provoke Me to anger?", whereas inMalachi 3:6 it says, "For I am the Lord, I do not change".  If God [really]was sometimes angry and sometimes joyful, then He would be changing. Such characteristics are found only in the dark and gloomy [existence ofhaving a] body, which lives in huts of mud and which was created fromdust, but God is higher and raised above all this.                                 CHAPTER TWOThis chapter explains that it is a commandment to love God, that allcreations consist of three parts, and starts the discussion of mystical andesoteric speculation.1)   It is a commandment to love and fear the venerable and fearedAlmighty, for it is written, "And you shall love the Lord your God", andit is also written, "You shall fear the Lord your God".2)   What is the way to love and fear God?  Whenever one contemplatesthe great wonders of God's works and creations, and one sees that they area product of a wisdom that has no bounds or limits, one will immediatelylove, laud and glorify [God] with an immense passion to know the GreatName, like David has said, "My soul thirsts for God, for the living God". When one thinks about these matters one will feel a great fear andtrepidation, and one will know that one is a low and insignificant creation,with hardly an iota of intelligence compared to that of God, like David hassaid, "When I observe Your heavens, the work of Your fingers...what isman, that You are heedful of him?".  Bearing these things in mind, I shallexplain important concepts of the Creator's work, as a guide tounderstanding and loving God.  Concerning this love the Sages said thatfrom it will come to know God.3)   Everything that God created in His world can be placed in one ofthree classifications.  Firstly, there are those creations, such as thebodies of men and animals, plants and the molten images, which have ashape and form which always exist and can be spoiled.  Secondly, there arethose creations which have a shape and form which does not vary from bodyto body or in appearance, like those in the first category do, but their shapeis fixed by their form and can never change.  These are the spheres and thestars contained therein.  Their form and shape are like none other.  Thirdly,there are those creations which have a form but no shape.  These are theangels, which have no bodies, but whose form vary from angel to angel.4)   If so, what did the Prophets mean when they said that they sawangels of fire with wings?  This is owing to the riddles of prophetic vision,for angels [in reality] have no bodies and are not affected by physicallimitations, for it is written, "For the Lord your God is a consuming fire". This fire is merely analogous, as it is written, "...who makes the wings Hismessengers".5)   In what, therefore, are these forms different if they no bodies?  Theyare not equal in their existence, some being below others and owing theirexistence to those above them, and all of them owe their existence to thepower of God and to His goodness.  Solomon in his wisdom hinted at thisby saying, "...for there is a High One that watches over him that is high".6)   The phrase `some being below others' does not refer to positions inphysical height, but just as one person can be more learned than another andwe say that he is `above' the other, and just as says that one set ofcircumstances is `above' another, so is the meaning of this phrase.7)   Each level of angel has a different name.  The highest level consistsof the Holy Chayot, then come the Ophanim, the Erelim, the Chashmalim,the Seraphim, the Malachim, the Elohim, the Cheruvim and the Ishim.  Thehighest level is that of the Holy Chayot and there is none other above it,except that of God.  Therefore, in the Prophecies, it is said that they areunderneath God's throne.  The tenth level consists of the Ishim, who are theangel who speak with the Prophets and appear to them in prophetic visions. They are therefore called Ishim - `men' - for the reason that their level isclosest to that of the intellect of Man.8)   All these forms live and know their Creator exceedingly well; eachform according to its level and not according to its size.  Even those on thetopmost level cannot comprehend the reality of [the existence of] God forthe reason that their intellect is insufficient for them to do so, but theyunderstand and comprehend better than those on the levels below theirs do. Even those on the tenth level have some understanding of God, but it isbeyond the capabilities of Man, who comprises both form and shape, tounderstand as well as those on the tenth level do.  None know God the wayHe Himself does.9)   All things that exist, with the exception of God, from the HolyChayot down to the smallest mosquito that lives in the mud, do so onaccount of God's might.  Since God knows His own self and recognises Hisown greatness, glory and reality, He knows everything, and there is nothingthat is hidden from Him.10)  God recognises His own reality and knows it as it is, but not with anexternal intellect in the way that we know things, since us and our intellectare not one.  God, His intellect and His life, however, are one, in allmanners of oneness.  It would transpire that he is simultaneously the Onethat knows, the One that is known and the knowing itself, all as one.  Thissubject cannot be spoken or heard, and it is beyond Man's understanding torecognise his Creator.  Therefore, it is written, "By the life of Pharaoh","As your soul lives" [but], "As the Lord lives"10, and not, "By the life ofthe Lord" - for the Creator and His life are not two, like physical life or thelife of the angels.  Therefore, God does not know the creations because oftheir own existence, but knows them of His own accord.  Therefore, Heknows everything, for everything relies on Him for continued existence.11)  What's been said in these two chapters is like a drop on the oceancompared to what has to be said to [fully] explain it.  The explanations ofthe concepts in these two chapters is mystical and esoteric speculation.12)  The first Sages commanded us not to discuss these topics with morethan one person and that person should be exceedingly wise.  Whenteaching someone these topics, one teaches him first what is contained in thebeginning of these chapters in small quantities, and he should be able todeduce further details on his own.  These matters are extremely deep innature, and not everyone can understand them.  Solomon in his wisdomsaid, "Lambs shall provide Your clothing".  In explaining this parable, theSages said that those things that are His dominion over the world will be Hisclothing, namely, His and only His, and not for the many.  On this it hasbeen said, "Let them be only Your own, and not strangers' with You", andit has also been said, "Honey and milk are under your tongue".  The firstSages said that anything that is like milk and honey should be under one'stongue.                                 CHAPTER THREEThis chapter names the spheres and discusses their physics, and alsodiscusses the nature and physics of the four elements.1)   Those things which are called heaven, firmament, Zevul and Aravotare spheres, and there are nine spheres altogether.  The sphere nearest to usis that of the moon.  The second nearest is that which contains the planetMercury, followed by the sphere containing the planet Venus, the sphere ofthe sun, the sphere containing the planet Mars, the sphere containing theplanet Jupiter, the sphere containing the planet Saturn, and the spherecontaining all the other stars which are visible in the firmament.  The ninthsphere is that which moves from east to west every day, and which enclosesand encircles everything.  All the stars appear to be in the same sphere, eventhough the spheres are layered, for the reason that the spheres are pure andtransparent like glass or sapphire, so that, for example, the stars in theeighth sphere [will] appear to be under the first sphere.2)   Each and every of the eight spheres which contain the stars is splitup into many [sub-] spheres, like the skin of an onion.  Some of these[sub-spheres] rotate from west to east, and some, like the ninth sphere, rotatefrom east to west.  There is no free space between the sub-spheres.3)   None of the spheres is light or heavy, and none of them has a colour. What we see as blue [in the sky] is merely an illusion, caused by the heightinvolved.  Similarly, the spheres have no smell or taste, for these propertiesare found only in the physical bodies beneath the spheres.4)   All these spheres that surround the world are spherical like a ball[and concentric], with the world suspended at the centre.  Some of the starshave small spheres around them; these small spheres do not surround theworld, but they are non-surrounding small spheres contained within thelarger surrounding sphere.5)   The number of spheres that surround the world is eighteen, whereasthere are only eight non-surrounding small spheres.  From the movement ofthe stars and from knowing their rate of progress each day and hour, andfrom their inclination from the equator, and from their distance from theEarth, the number of spheres and the way they move and surround [theworld] can be deduced.  Such calculations are the key calculations toworking out the seasons and the [positions of the] Zodiac signs.  The wisepeople of [Ancient] Greece wrote many books on this subject.6)   The early Sages divided the ninth sphere, which surroundseverything, into twelve parts.  Each part was given a name appropriate to thepattern of stars it contains.  The names of the Zodiac symbols are:  Aries,Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Saggitarius, Capricorn,Aquarius and Pisces.7)   The ninth sphere has no divisions, or a form of one of the formsdescribed above, or any stars, but with being in contact with the stars of theeighth sphere and the big stars contained therein, it appears to have theseforms, or some form close to them.  These twelve forms [of the Zodiac]were in conjunction with the appropriate divisions, but after the Flood, whenthey were named, they shifted slightly.  All the stars in the eighth sphererotate in the same way that the sun and the moon do, but slower; thedistance that sun covers in one day will take these stars [of the eighthsphere] seventy years to cover.8)   Of the visible stars, there are some smaller than the Earth, and thereare some considerably bigger than the Earth.  The Earth is approximately 40times bigger than the moon, and the sun is approximately 170 times biggerthan the Earth, so the moon is approximately 6800 times smaller than thesun.  No star is bigger than the sun, and none is smaller then Mercury,which is in the second sphere.9)   All the stars and spheres possess souls, intellect and understanding,and they are alive, exist and recognise their Creator.  Like the angels, all ofthem praise and laud their Creator, and do so according to their importanceand level.  Just as they recognise God so do they recognise themselves andthe angels who are above them.  The intellect of the stars and spheres is lessthan that of the angels, but greater than that of men.10)  The Almighty created a shape which is unlike that of the spheres[themselves] beneath the lunar sphere.  This shape has four forms, which[also] aren't like the forms of the spheres.  Each of these forms possessessome of this shape.  The first form is that of fire, and combines with thisshape to form the body of fire.  The second form is that of wind, andcombines with this shape to form the body of wind.  The third form is thatof water, and combines with this shape to form the body of water.  Thefourth form is that of earth, and combines with this shape to form the bodyof earth.  It transpires that there are four bodies under the firmament, oneabove the other, and each body surrounds that beneath it from all sides, likea ball.  The first body nearest the moon is that of fire, followed by the wind,the water and the earth.  There is absolutely no free space between thesebodies at all.11)  These four bodies do not possess souls, and do not know or recogniseGod, but they are like non-living matter.  Each body has its own nature,which it does not know or understand, and cannot change.  David said,"Praise the Lord from the earth, O monsters, and all deeps: fire, and hail,snow and vapours", meaning that those that are found on the earth shouldpraise the Lord for His might that is visible in the fire and hail and inall the other creations beneath the firmament, just as their might is alwaysrecognised.                                 CHAPTER FOURThis chapter explains that all creations are made from the four elements,discusses the form of the soul, and the difference between mystical andesoterical speculation and the Action of Creation.1)   These four elements - fire, wind, water and earth - are thefoundations of all the creations under the heavens.  The shape of all things,such as Man, animals, birds, fish, metals, precious stones, pearls, buildingmaterials, plants, mountains, clods of earth, et cetera, is founded on thesefour elements.  It transpires that all bodies under the heavens, except forthese four elements, consist of a combined form and shape, the shape ofwhich consists of the four elements, but each of the four elements consistsof just a combined shape and form.2)   The fire and wind follow an upward vector from the centre of theworld towards the sky, whereas the water and earth follow a downwardvector from the sky to the centre, for the centre of the sky is the lowestpoint beneath which there is none lower.  Their passage in this manner iswithout their knowledge or will, but is their in-built tendency and nature. The nature of the fire is that it is hot and dry, and is the lightest ofall the elements.  The wind is hot and humid, and the water is cold and wet. The earth is dry and cold, and is the heaviest of all the elements.  The wateris lighter than the earth, and is therefore found above the earth.  The windis lighter than the water, which is why it hovers above the water, and thefire is lighter than the wind.  Since they are the foundations of all bodiesunder the firmament, it is found that each and every body, be it man oranimal, beast or bird, fish or plant, metal or stone, et cetera, has its shapeformed out of fire, wind, water and earth.  The four elements are mixedtogether [in forming a body] and change in the process, so that the bodyformed by the mixture does not represent any single element.  No part at allin this mixture will be found to be one of the four elements in its pure form,because they all changed and turned into a different body.  Each and everybody made out of these four elements will possess the properties of heat,cold, wetness and dryness.  Some bodies, such as the bodies of livingcreatures, however, will contain a greater proportion of fire, which is whythey are warm.  Some bodies, such as stones, will contain a greaterproportion of earth, so they are very dry.  Some bodies will contain a greaterproportion of water, so they will be the wettest [of all bodies].  In thismanner, one will find one warm body hotter than another warm body, andone dry body drier than another dry body.  Similarly, one will find bodieswhich are exceedingly cold, bodies which are exceedingly wet, or bodieswhich contain equal proportions of the elements.  The element in themajority will be the one that will give the resultant body its [mostnoticeable] characteristics.3)   Anything made from these four elements will eventually be dividedup again into them.  Some are divided up after only a few days [followingtheir formation], while others are divided up after many years.  It isimpossible for anything made from these elements not to be divided up. Even gold and rubies will be divided up.  Upon division of a body, itselemental constituents return to their appropriate places.4)   If bodies are divided up into the four elements, why does it say aboutMan, "...and to dust you shall return"?  This is because Man is composedmainly of the earth element.  When a body divides up, its elementalconstituents do not immediately return to their appropriate places, but turninto something else, which turns into another thing, and so on, but theelemental constituents eventually do return to their appropriate places.  Theelements return to [and leave] their appropriate places in a never-endingcycle.5)   The four elements are perpetually exchanging material every day andat all hours.  What does this mean?  Some of the earth which is nearest tothe water changes and crumbles, and turns into water.  Similarly, some ofthe water which is nearest to the wind changes and melts, and turns intowind.  Likewise, some of the wind nearest the fire changes and turns intofire.  Some of the fire nearest the wind turns into wind.  Some of the windnearest the water turns into water.  Some of the water nearest the earth turnsinto earth.  This process is long and slow.  An element cannot change in itsentirety into some other element, for it is impossible for one of the fourelements to completely cease to exist, but can exchange material with oneof the other elements.  There is this exchange of material between eachelement and its neighbour in a never-ending cycle.6)   This process of change takes place because of the rotation of thespheres, as does fusion of the four elements to form the bodies of Man,living creatures, plants, stone, metal, et cetera.  God, with the aid of thetenth type of angel, the Ishim, gave an appropriate shape to each body.7)   One will never see a shape without form, or a form without shape. It is because of a man's wisdom that he knows that a given body has ashape and a form, and that its shape consists of [material from] the fourelements, and that there are bodies whose shapes are simple and have justa single constituent.  The forms which have no shape are not visible to theeye, but are known by the power of intellect, just as we know God withoutseeing Him with our eyes.8)   The soul of a living creature is the form given to it by God [todifferentiate it from plants], and the extra intellect found in a man's soulis the form of a man as he understands it.  Concerning this form the Torahsays, "Let us make Mankind in our image, after our likeness"; that is tosay that Man will have a form that is capable of understanding [the conceptsof] intellects without a shape, such as angels, who have a form but no shape,so that he will be similar to them.  The words, "our image" do not refer tothe form visible to the eye, namely the form which consists of a mouth,nose, jaw and other parts of the body, for this form is called thecountenance.  It is not [necessarily] a soul which is found in all livingcreatures that eat, drink, give birth, feel and think, but the intellect, whichis in the form of the [essential] soul, concerning which Scripture said, "...inour image, after our likeness"4.  This form is very often called the soul andbreath.  One has to very careful with these names so as not to make amistake.  Each and every name is self-explanatory.9)   This form of life is not made from the elements [just] to be able toget away from them, and is not created with the strength of or for the needsof the soul, as if the soul needs the body, but is created by God, and is fromHeaven.  Therefore, when a shape which is composed of the four elementsdivides up, the soul is `lost', because the soul is found only with a body andneeds a body for all its actions, but knows and understands the knowledgewhich is distinct from the shapes, and knows God, and remains in existencefor ever.  Solomon, in his wisdom, said, "And the dust returns to the earthas it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it".10)  These matters have been discussed very briefly here, and are deepmatters, but not as deep as those discussed in the first two chapters.  Thematters discussed in the first two chapters are those of the Action ofCreation.  The first Sages commanded us not to discuss these matters inpublic either, but with a single person one may talk about them, and onemay teach them to a single person.11)  What is the difference between mystical and esoterical speculationand these matters?  The former is never discussed with even a single person,unless that person is a wise and understanding person, and even then onedoesn't discuss it too deeply.  The Action of Creation may be discussed withany single person, even if his intellect is such that he won't understand it,and one may tell him as much as he is capable of understanding.  Thesematters are not discussed amongst many people, for the reason that noteverybody is of an intellectual level which will enable them to understandthese matters.12)  Whenever a man contemplates these matters and recognises thecreations - angels, spheres, Man, et cetera - and sees God's wisdom in allthe formations and creations, his love for God will increase, find his soul,and his very essence will yearn to love God.  Furthermore, he will fear hisbaseness, meagerity and lightness when he compares himself to one of thegreat and holy forms which have no shape and are not elemental [namely,the angels], and he will see himself as an empty and superfluous vessel, fullof shame and disgrace.13)  These four chapters have discussed the first five commandments [inthe list at the beginning of these Laws], and are what the first Sages calledesoterical philosophy, as it is written, "Four people went to study esotericalphilosophy, et cetera".  Even though those four people were giants ofIsrael and very great sages, not all of them had the capability to understandand comprehend these matters.  I say that it is not fitting to study esotericalphilosophy unless one has first studied what is metaphorically called `breadand meat', which is the study of what is permitted, what is forbidden, andother commandments.  These matters were called small matters by theSages, as they have said, "Mystical and esoterical speculation is a big matter,whereas the [still applicable] debates of Abbayeh and Ravah are smallmatters".  Nevertheless, it is still fitting to study other commandmentsfirst, because they settle a man's mind.  Furthermore, they are the great goodwhich God gave to this world, by which we can inherit life in the World ToCome.  It is possible for everyone - adults, children, men, women, thosewho are narrow-minded and those who are not - to know these matters.                                 CHAPTER FIVEThis chapter explains that all Jews are commanded to sanctify God's Name,when to transgress when under a death a threat and when to die, and definesa what constitutes a desecration of God's Name.1)   Every Jew [including women] is commanded to sanctify God'sName, for it is written, "...but I will be hallowed among the children ofIsrael".  We are warned not to desecrate God's Name, as it is written,"Nor shall you desecrate My holy Name"1.  What does this mean?  If, forexample, a gentile forces a Jew to commit a sin by threatening to kill himif he doesn't, then he should commit the sin in order not to be killed, forconcerning this commandment it is written, "...which if a man does he shalllive by them" - and not die for them.  If he allowed himself to be killedby not committing the sin, then he is liable as a suicide [in the World ToCome].2)   This is talking about any sin other than idolatry, adultery and murder,for if a gentile told one to commit one of these sins or else he will kill one,one has to allow oneself to be killed by not committing the sin.  Thisdifference [between these three commandments and the others] is applicableonly when the gentile intends to receive benefit for himself, by, for example,forcing a Jew to build a house for him on the Sabbath, or cook him a mealon the Sabbath, or by forcing a Jewess to have intercourse with him, but ifhe just wanted the Jew to sin, then the following applies:  If there were no,or fewer than ten, Jews present, then he may save his life by sinning, but ifthere were ten, or more, Jews present, then he has to allow himself to bekilled by not sinning, even if the sin involved is not one of the threementioned above but is one of the other commandments.3)   These matters do not apply during a time of non-persecution, but ata time of persecution, such as when a wicked king such as Nebuchadnezzararises and decrees against the Jews that they should forego their religion orone of the commandments, then one may not sin and one should allowoneself to be killed, even if the decree concerns a commandment other thanthe three mentioned above, and whether one is forced into sinning in thepresence of ten, or more, Jews, or not.4)   Anyone who says that he will sin and so not be killed but [in theend] was killed without having sinned is liable as a suicide.  Anybody whosays that he will not sin and will allow himself to be killed, and is killedwithout sinning, is sanctifying God's Name.  If this happened in thepresence of ten, or more, Jews, then it is a public sanctification, like whatDaniel, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah and Rabbi Akivah and his colleaguesdid.  These are people who were persecuted by a kingdom and above whoselevel there isn't one, and about them it is written, "But for Your sake we arekilled all the day long; we are considered as sheep for the slaughter", andit is also written about them, "Gather My pious ones together to Me; thosethat have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice".  Anybody who is toldto sin, but is not threatened with death if he doesn't, and he does sin, thenhas desecrated God's Name.  If this was in the presence of ten, or more,Jews, then it is a public desecration, and he has abrogated the positivecommandment to sanctify God's Name by transgressing the negativecommandment not to desecrate it.  Even so, he is not liable to flogging, forthe reason that the situation was forced on him.  It need not be said that heis not executed by a Court of Law even if he was forced to commit murder,for the reason that flogging and execution are only for people who [of theirown accord] willingly sin in the presence of witnesses who warned him, forconcerning one who gives of his children to Molech it is written, "Then Iwill set My face against that man".  According to tradition, we have learntthat the word "that" comes to exclude those people who are forced to sin,or who do so inadvertently or accidentally.  Since one who is forced tocommit idolatry, the worst sin of all, is not liable to karet, and it need notbe said that he is not executed by a Court of Law either, then how muchmore so this rule applies to the other commandments of the Torah. Concerning adultery it is written, "...but you shall do nothing to the girl". {If, however, one could have saved oneself by running away from the[jurisdiction of the] wicked king but  one didn't, then one is like a dog whoreturns to its vomit, and one receives the status of a wilful sinner [withrespect to idolatry], and one will be banished from the World To Come anddescend to the depth of Hades.}5)   If a group of gentiles said to a group of [Jewish] women, `Give usone of you and we will debauch her, or else we will debauch all of you',then they [may not select a `victim' and] must allow themselves all to bedebauched, and they may not hand over to them even a single Jewishperson.  Similarly, if gentiles told a group of Jews to select one ofthemselves to be killed or else they will all be killed, then they must allallow themselves to be killed, and they may not hand over to them even asingle Jewish person.   If, however, they singled a person out by saying tothe group, `Give us X to be killed, or else we will kill all of you', then if theperson in question is liable to death in the way that Sheba the son of Bichriwas they may hand him over, but this procedure should not, from theoutset, be followed.  If, however, the person in question was liable to deaththey should all allow themselves to be killed, and they may not hand overto them even a single Jewish person.6)   What has been said [regarding idolatry, adultery and murder, andother commandments] concerning situations forced upon one also apply toill people.  What does this mean?  If someone was seriously ill and thedoctors said that the cure involves breaching one of the negativecommandments of the Torah [or any of the other commandments], then hemay breach any of the commandments of the Torah except for idolatry,adultery and murder, in order to cure himself of a dangerous illness.  Onemay not transgress any of these three commandments even to cure adangerous illness.  If one did transgress one of these three commandmentsand was cured as a result, then one is liable to the appropriate punishmentin a Court of Law.7)   From where is it known that even in life-threatening situations thesethree sins may not be committed?  It is written, "You shall love the Lordyour God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might" - this applies even if God is about to take one's soul.  Concerning killing oneJew in order to cure another or to save another from a forced situation;common sense tells us that we dot kill one person to save another.  Adulteryis compared to murder, as it is written, "...for as when a man rises againsthis fellow and kills him, so is this matter".8)   When it has been said that commandments other than the threespecial ones may be transgressed in order to cure a life-threatening illness,it may be done only if the ill person receives some [other] benefit from it,such as if the cure involves eating creeping animals or insects, or chametzon Pesach, or eating on Yom Kippur, but if the cure does not involve some[other] benefit, for instance, if the cure involves making a bandage outof chametz [on Pesach], or from orlah, or he has to drink something bittermade from something forbidden, then even if the illness is not life-threatening, one may commit the sin.  Vegetables grown together andmeat/milk mixtures, however, are always forbidden, even if theiradministration does not involve some [other] benefit.  Therefore, they are notused medicinally, even without involving some [other] benefit, unless theillness is a life threatening one.9)   If someone had his eyes on a particular woman and then developeda terminal illness, and the doctors said that he cannot be cured unless he hasintercourse with that woman, then he may not do so and has to die, even ifthe woman was unmarried.  We do not even allow him to speak to herthrough some sort of barrier [which does allow them to see each other], evenif he will die, so that Jewish girls will not be casual about adultery.10)  One who is not in a forced situation and brazenly sins in order toanger God is desecrating God's Name.  Therefore, concerning one who takesa false oath it is written, "...nor shall you profane the Name of your God; Iam the Lord".  If he desecrated God's Name in the presence of ten, ormore, Jews, then he has done so publicly.  In a similar vein, anyone whoruns away from sin, and fulfils mitzvot for no reason other than that Godcommands it, in the way that Joseph ran away from his master's wife, issanctifying God's Name.11)  There are other things which also count as a desecration of God'sName if a man very knowledgeable in Torah and known as being pious doesthem; things which ordinary people do.  Even though these things are notsins, they still count as a desecration of God's Name.  Such things includetaking possession of an article and not paying for it immediately, eventhough one may have sufficient funds, and one will be messing the sellersaround.  Being excessively merry, or eating and drinking a lot amongstignoramuses also fall into this category, as does speaking to others in anunreposed manner and without a pleasant facial expression, but in aquarellous and angry manner.  Similar things also count.  Every great sagehas to judge himself, according to his greatness, how to be particular onhimself and to act beyond the letter of the law.  Similarly, if a wise personis particular to receive people in a reposed manner, and involves himself andreceives them with a pleasant expression on his face, and does not hide fromthem, then even those people who [had previously] mocked him will nowrespect and honour him, and will trust him.  He should, however, not partakeof too many meals with ignoramuses, and should always be seen to bebusying himself with Torah, and wrapped in his tsitsit and wearinghis tephillin, and always acting beyond the letter of the law, which involvesnot being too withdrawn or bewildered.  If he acts in this way, theneveryone will adore and love him, and follow his example.  This is asanctification of God's Name, and concerning this it is written, "...and saidto me, `You are My servant, Israel, amongst whom I will be glorified".                                 CHAPTER SIXThis chapter explains that it is forbidden to erase any of the Holy Names,and states which Names mat be erased.1)   Anyone who erases one of the holy and pure Names by which Godis called is liable to flogging according to the Torah, for concerning idol-worship it is written, "...and destroy the name of them from that place.  Thisyou shall not do to the Lord your God".2)   The seven Names of God are:  the Tetragrammaton, which is writtenas either Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey or Aleph-Daled-Nun-Yud [Lord], Aleph-Lamed[Almighty], Aleph-Lamed-Hey-Yud-Mem [God], Shin-Daled-Yud[Almighty], Tsadi-Vet-Aleph-Vav-Saf [Hosts] and Aleph-Hey-Yud-Hey[I am].  Anyone who erases even one letter of any of these Names is liableto flogging.3)   Any prefixes to any Name, such as a Lamed to form, `to the Lord',may be erased, because they are not holy.  Any suffixes, such as a Chaf toform, `your God', may not be erased, because they are like the letters of theName, which lend holiness to them.  Even though these added letters areholy and may not be erased, anyone who does erase them is not liable toflogging according to the Torah, but is flogged because because of aRabbinical decree.4)   If one wrote the Aleph and Lamed of `Elokim', or the Yud and Heyof the Tetragrammaton, one may not erase them, and it need not be said thatthe Name which is spelt Yud-Hey [Jah] itself may not be erased, firstlybecause it is a Name in its own right, and secondly because it is part of theTetragrammaton.  If, however, one wrote the Shin and Daled of `Shakai', orthe Tsadi and Vet of `Tsvakot', one may erase them.5)   Attributes, such as Merciful and Graceful, with which God is praisedare like miscellaneous holy words, and it is permitted to erase them.6)   Concerning a vessel on which a Name is written; the part on whichthe Name is written must be cut out and relegated to the archives [before thevessel may be used].  Even if the Name was engraved [and not written] ina metal or glass vessel, then one who melts the vessel is liable to flogging. To be allowed to use such a vessel one first has to remove that part onwhich the Name is engraved and relegate it to the archives.  Similarly, if onehad a Name written on one's flesh, one may not wash or apply ointments orcreams [on that place], and one may not stand in a place which is soiledwith excrement.  If, for whatever reason by way of a mitzvah, one has toimmerse oneself in a ritual bath, one must cover the place on which theName is written with something that is waterproof before immersing oneself. If one could not find something that is waterproof, one should wrap agarment round [that part of one's skin] without sticking it, so that it won'tact as a barrier between one's skin and the water.  The only reason he hasto wrap up the Name [in the first place] is that it is forbidden to stand nakedin the presence of God's Name.7)   Anyone who removes, by way of destruction, even one stone fromthe Altar, the Holy Hall or any other part of the Temple Courtyard is liableto flogging, for concerning idol-worship it is written, "And you shalloverthrow their altars...This you shall not do to the Lord your God". Similarly, anyone who, for destructive purposes, burns any sanctified woodis liable to flogging, for it is written, "...and burn their asherim withfire...This you shall not do to the Lord your God"2.8)   It is forbidden to burn any holy writings, or any translations of orcommentaries on them.  It is also forbidden to tear them up, any anyonewho does so is flogged because of a Rabbinical decree.  This is talkingabout holy writings written by a Jew in holiness, but if a Jewish hereticwrote a Sefer Torah, it must be burned along with the Names therein, for thereason that the heretic does not believe in the holiness of the Names, anddoes not write them with the correct intention , but treats them as ordinaryliterature.  Since his attitudes are such his writings of [any of] God's Namesare not holy, and it is a mitzvah to burn them, so as not to give any credenceto heretics or to their actions.  Any Names written by a gentile, however, arerelegated to the archives, as are any holy writings which have become wornout or which were written by a gentile.9)   Any Names mentioned in connection with Abraham are holy.  Evenwhere it says, "...and said, `My Lord, if now I have found favour in Youreyes'", the Name there is holy.  All Names mentioned in connection withLot are not holy, with this exception:  "And Lot said to them, `Oh, not so,my Lord: behold, your servant has found favour in your eyes...in saving mylife".  All the Names mentioned at the hills of Benjamin are holy.  TheNames mentioned with Michah are not holy.  All the Names mentioned inconnection with Navot are holy.  All that Solomon wrote in the Song ofSongs is holy and has the same status as the other Attributes, with thisexception:  "You, O Solomon, may have the thousand".  Any mention ofany king in the book of Daniel is not holy, with the exception of, "You, Oking, king of kings", which has the status of other Attributes.                                 CHAPTER SEVENThis chapter discusses prophecy and who warrants it, and explains thedifference between the prophecy of Moses and that of the other Prophets.1)   One of the bases of religion is to know that God visits people inprophetic visions, which come only to exceedingly wise people ofoutstanding characteristics, whose inclinations never lead them to earthlymatters but who always conquer their inclinations, and who are of correcttemperaments.  A person who fulfils these criteria, and is of perfect health,will, when studying esoterical philosophy and is attracted by those elevatedissues and is of an appropriate temperament to understand and comprehendthem , and sanctifies himself by moving away from anybody who concernshimself with ephemeral matters, and encourages himself not to have anythoughts about useless matters and its contrivances, have his thoughtspermanently attuned to above, from under God's Throne, to understand thepure and holy forms, and looks upon the wisdom of God [in Creation] in itsentirety, from the first form [i.e the Holy Chayot] till the centre of theEarth, and sees in them God's greatness, and then prophecy will immediatelycome to him.  At the time when prophecy comes to him, his soul will be onthe same level as that of the Ishim angels, and he will become a differentman, and he will realise that he is not [any more] as he was, but will riseabove the level of other wise men, as it is written, "...and you shall prophesywith him, and shall be turned into another man".2)   There are [many] levels of prophecy - in the same way that oneperson can be wiser than another, so can he be more prophetic.  Propheticinsights come only in nocturnal visions in dreams, or by day after fallingasleep, as it is written, "I the Lord make Myself known to him in a vision,and speak to him in a dream".  Whenever one is receiving a prophecy,one's limbs shake, the strength of one's body weakens, and one's thoughtsbecome disturbed, leaving one's mind free to understand what one will see,as it is written in connection with Abraham, "...and, lo, a horror of greatdarkness fell upon him", and as it is written in connection with Daniel,"...for my comely appearance was horribly changed, and I retained nostrength".3)   What is made known to a prophet during prophecy is done so by wayof parable, and he will immediately realise what the parable means.  Forinstance, when Jacob the Patriarch saw the ladder with angels ascending anddescending it, it was a parable representing monarchy and its subjection. Similarly, the animals which Ezekiel saw, the boiling pot and almond treewhich Jeremiah saw, and all the other objects seen by the other Prophetswere also parables.  Of the Prophets, some, like those mentioned above,related what they saw in their prophecy and their interpretation of it,whereas some related just their interpretation.  Sometimes they related justthe parables [of the prophecy], like Ezekiel and Zachariah sometimes did. All of the Prophets prophecised by way of parables and riddles.4)   None of the Prophets receive prophecies whenever they wanted, butthey would attune their thoughts, be happy and of a good heart, and seeksolitude, for prophecy does not come to those who are sad or lazy, but onlyto those who are happy.  Therefore, the sons of prophets would have beforethem harps, drums and flutes, and would seek prophecy, as it is written,"...and they shall prophesy", that is to say that they will follow the waysof prophecy until they prophecise, progressing as they go.5)   Those who seek prophecy are called the sons of prophets.  Eventhough they attune their thoughts, the Divine Presence may, or may not,inspire them.6)   All the Prophets, from the first to the last, prophecised in these ways,with the exception of Moses our Teacher, chief of the Prophets.  In whatways did Moses differ from the other Prophets?  Firstly, whereas the otherProphets received their prophecies in a dream or vision, Moses received hiswhile awake and standing, as it is written, "And when Moses was in theTent of Meeting to speak with Him, he heard the voice speaking to him, etcetera".  Secondly, the other Prophets received their prophecies via anangel.  Therefore, what they saw was by way of parable and riddle.  Moses,on the other hand, did not receive his prophecies via an angel, as it iswritten, "With him I speak mouth to mouth", "And the Lord spoke toMoses face to face", "...and the outward appearance of the Lord does hebehold"7, that is to say that what Moses saw what not by way of parable, buthe saw each prophecy absolutely clearly without any parables or riddles. The Torah said about him, "...manifestly, and not in dark speeches"7,showing that when Moses received a prophecy he did not do so by way ofriddles, but did so with clarity, and saw everything absolutely clearly. Thirdly, the other Prophets were scared [of their prophetic visions] andwould shy away, but Moses wasn't and didn't.  Scripture says, "...as a manspeaks with a friend"8 - just as a man is not scared to listen to his friend,so Moses had the capabilities to understand his prophecies and to standunafraid.  Fourthly, none of the Prophets prophecised whenever they wantedto, but whenever God wanted to He would visitate Moses and bestow uponhim prophecy.  Moses did not have to attune his thoughts or otherwiseprepare himself, for the reason that he was always prepared and stood likea ministering angel.  Therefore, he would receive prophecies at any time, asit is written, "Stand still and I will hear what the Lord will commandconcerning you".  In this God trusted him, as it is written, "Go say tothem, `Return to your tents'.  But as for you, stand here by Me, and I willspeak to you, et cetera".  From here we see that whenever any of the otherProphets had finished prophecising they would return to their houses [andfamilies] and other bodily needs, like everybody else, so they therefore didnot separate themselves from their wives.  Moses, on the other hand, did notreturn to his home, and separated himself from his wife, and all thatresembled her, for ever.  His mind was [always] connected to God, andGod's glory never left him at all; light emanated from his face, and he washoly like an angel.7)   It is possible for the prophecy of a prophet to be for him alone, towiden his outlooks and to increase his knowledge so that he will not knowwhat he [previously] did not know from these great matters.  It is alsopossible that he has to deliver the prophecy to one of the nations of theworld, or to the people of a [particular] town, or to the citizens of a nation,[in order] to teach them wisdom, and to let them know what to do, or toprevent them from doing [again] any bad deeds.  When a prophet is sent [byGod] on such a mission, he is given a sign and proof [to present], so thatpeople will know that God [really] sent him in truth.  not everyone whopresents a sign and proof is believed as a prophet, but only those peoplewho are known to be suitable to receive prophecies on account of theirwisdom and actions, and that they went in the ways of prophecy in itsholiness and exegeses.  When such people present a sign and proof and saythat God sent them, it is a commandment to listen to them, for it is written,"...to him you shall listen".  It is possible that although a person presentsa sign and proof he is not a prophet, and the sign could be achieved by othermeans; even so, we are commanded to listen to him; because he is a greatand wise man who is suitable to receive prophecy, we assume that hisprophecy is true.  In this we have commanded, just as we have beencommanded to decide a verdict according to the testimony of two peoplewho are eligible to bear testimony [together], even though they may belying; since they have always been honest in the past, we assume that theybeing honest now as well.  About this and similar matters it is written, "Thesecret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which arerevealed belong to use and to our children for ever, that we may do all thewords of the Torah", and it is also written, "...for a man looks on theoutward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart".                                 CHAPTER EIGHTThis chapter discusses the signs that Moses performed and why heperformed them, and that he did not do so to make the people believe inhim.1)   The Children of Israel did not believe in Moses [solely] because ofthe signs he presented, for someone who believes [in a prophet solely]because of the signs he presents is tainted, for it could be that his signs areperformed by means of spells and witchcraft.  All the signs that Mosesperformed in the wilderness were done so according to the needs of themoment, and not to bring proof to his prophecies.  There was a need to sinkthe Egyptians, so Moses split the sea and drowned them in it; the Childrenof Israel needed food, so Moses brought down the manna for them; theyneeded water, so Moses split the rock for them; Korah and his followersrebelled, so Moses opened up the ground and they were swallowed up.  Thesame principle applies with all the other signs.  It was the assembly atMount Sinai that made them believe in Moses, when our eyes, and no-oneelse's, saw, and our ears, and no-one else's, heard, and Moses drew near tothe darkness, and the voice spoke to him, and we heard it saying to Moses,"Moses, Moses, go tell them such-and-such".  In connection with this it iswritten, "The Lord talked with you face to face", and it is also written,"The Lord did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, evenus".  From where is it known that the assembly at Mount Sinai was theproof that the prophecy of Moses was true and that he was not speakingbasely?  It is derived from the verse, "Lo, I come to you in a thick cloud,that the people may hear when I speak with you, and believe you forever".  From this we see that prior to the assembly at Mount Sinai theirbelief in Moses was not one that would have lasted for ever, but it was abelief that left room for discussion and thought.2)   It would transpire that those people to whom a prophet is sent arewitnesses that his prophecy is true, and he need not perform any other sign,for them and they combine to form one unit with respect to this matter, inthe same way that two people who saw the same thing together combine aswitnesses, for each of them is a witness that the other is speaking the truth,and need not bring [additional] proof to back him up.  So it was with Mosesour Teacher, that all of the Children of Israel were his witnesses after theassembly at Mount Sinai, and he didn't have to perform for them any signs. This is what God said to him at the time when his prophecy started, whenHe showed him what signs to perform in Egypt:  "And they shall listen toyour voice".  Moses knew that anyone who believes [solely] because ofsigns is tainted and will be doubtful, and expressed a reluctance to go bysaying, "But behold they will not believe me"4.  God told him that thesesigns will [continue to be performed and] applied only until they had leftEgypt and assembled at Mount Sinai, whereupon any doubt will vanish, andalso assured him that [at Mount Sinai] He will give signs that Moses hadbeen sent by God in truth from the [very] beginning, and that no doubt willremain.  This is what Scripture says:  "...and this shall be a sign to you thatI have sent you; when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shallGod upon this mountain".  From this we learn that any Prophet that cameafter Moses is not believed solely because of his signs to make us think thatif he makes a sign we should listen to everything he says, but [is believed]because of the commandment of Moses in the Torah:  "...to him you shalllisten", if he gives a sign.  Just as we have been commanded to decide amatter according to the testimony of two witnesses, even though we do notknow if his sign is Divine or achieved by spells and witchcraft.3)   Therefore, if a prophet arose and performed great signs and wonders,and tells us to deny the prophecy of Moses our Teacher, we do not listen tohim, and we [will] know for sure that his signs are the result of spells andwitchcraft.  The prophecy of Moses was not dependant upon signs, so thesigns of this prophet cannot outweigh the signs of Moses, for we saw andheard them, just as he did.  This is similar to two witnesses who beartestimony that a particular person did a particular thing in front of them,but he is not like they say he is, so we do not listen to them and we knowfor sure that they are false witnesses.  Therefore, the Torah said that if aprophet comes with signs and wonders, we do not listen to him, for he iscoming to deny that what we saw with our eyes.  Since we believe inwonders only because of a commandment of Moses, how can we accept asign that is brought to deny the prophecy of Moses which we saw andheard?!                                 CHAPTER NINEThis chapter explains that a prophet may not make any changes whatsoeverin the Torah and the commandments contained therein.1)   It is explicitly and clearly stated in the Torah that it [the Torah] isan everlasting mitzvah, and cannot be changed, subtracted from or added to,as it is written, "Every matter which I command you observe to do it; youshall not add to it, or subtract from it", and it is also written, "...butthose things which are revealed belong to us and to our children for ever,that we may do all the words of the Torah".  From here we see that wehave been commanded to keep all the commandments of the Torah foralways.  In connection with this it is written, "...a statute for everthroughout your generations", and it is also written, "It is not inheaven".  From here we see that a prophet may not make any changes [atall] in the Torah.  Therefore, if a man, whether a gentile or a Jew, arisesand performs signs and wonders, and says that God sent him to add to, ortake away from, a mitzvah, or to institute a new mitzvah which we did nothear from Moses, or says that the commandments with which we have beencommanded are not for eternity but are meant only for a temporary period,then he is a false prophet, for he has come to undermine the prophecy ofMoses.  His punishment is death by strangulation, which is the punishmentfor deliberately speaking in the name of God without having beencommanded to do so.  God told Moses that all the commandments are foreternity, and no man can accuse God of being deceitful.2)   If so, why is it written in the Torah, "I will raise up for them aprophet from amongst their brethren, like you, and will put My words in hismouth, and he shall say to them all that I shall command him"?  Theprophet in question does not come to start a [new] religion, but to reiteratethe commandments of the Torah and to warn the people not to transgressthem, as the last Prophet said, "Remember the Torah of Moses Myservant".  Similarly, if he gave us commandment in optional matters, suchas by saying, `Go (or don't go) to such-and-such a place', or, `Start (or don'tstart) a war today', or, `Build (or don't build) a wall here', et cetera, weare commanded to listen to him, and anyone who doesn't is liable to deathat the hands of God, for it is written, "And it shall come to pass, thatwhoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My Name, Iwill require it of him".3)   Similarly, a prophet who himself transgresses his own words, and aprophet who ignores his prophecy [and does not deliver it], are also liableto death at the hands of God, for it is written, "I will require it of him"7. Similarly, if a prophet who is known to be a [true] prophet tells us totransgress one, or many, of the commandments of the Torah, whether of thestringent or of the more lenient ones, but only as a temporary practice, thenwe are commanded to listen to him.  So we learnt from the first Sages, thatwe should listen to a prophet whatever the commandments he tells us totransgress are, as with Elijah at Mount Carmel, except if the commandmenthe tells us to transgress is that of not practising idolatry, and provided thathe tells us to transgress only as a temporary practice, like Elijah did atMount Carmel, when he offered sacrifices outside Jerusalem, which is thecity chosen for offering sacrifices in, and anyone who does so outsideJerusalem is liable to karet.  Even so, since Elijah was a prophet, it was amitzvah to listen to him.  The verse, "...to him you shall listen" appliesalso in situations like the one with Elijah.  Had the people asked Elijah howhe could violate the Torah verse of, "Take heed to yourself that you do notoffer your burnt offerings in any place that you see", he could have toldthem that anyone offering sacrifices outside the Temple is liable to karet, inaccordance with what Moses commanded, but he was offering sacrificesoutside the Temple in accordance with what God had said to him, and inorder to discredit the prophets of Ba'al.  In this manner we are commandedto listen to any prophet who tells us to transgress as a temporary measure. If he tells us that a commandment of the Torah is to be abolished for ever,then his punishment is death by strangulation, for it is written, "...belongto us and to our children for ever".4)   Similarly, if he tries to abolish [for ever] a Rabbinical institution ordecree, or, concerning one of the Laws of the Torah he says that Godcommanded for the Law to be one way,, but we practice [in a different way]according to the words of so-and-so, then he is a false prophet and is put todeath by strangulation, even if he shows a sign, for he is trying to disprovethe Torah's statement of, "It is not in heaven".  If, however, he said thatwe should do what he says only as a temporary measure, we listen to him.5)   This is talking about any commandment other than the one not toserve idols, for if he told us to serve idols we do listen to him, even if hetold us to do so only as a temporary measure.  Even if he performed greatsigns and wonders and says that God has commanded that we serve idols ona particular day, or at a particular hour, he is trying to turn us away fromGod, and about this it is written, "And the sign or wonder come to pass...youshall not listen to the words of that prophet...because he has spoken to turnyou away from the Lord your God", for he is trying to disprove theprophecy of Moses.  Therefore, we know for sure that he is a false prophet,and that all his signs are the result of spells and witchcraft, and he must beput to death by strangulation.                                 CHAPTER TENThis chapter discusses which signs a prophet has to perform before webelieve him.1)   Any prophet who arises and says that God sent him does not have toperform a sign of the type that Moses, Elijah or Elishah did, which involvedsupernatural events.  Instead, the sign that he has to perform is to predictthe future, and we have to believe him, as it is written, "And if you say inyour heart, `How shall we know the word which the Lord has not tospoken?'".  Therefore, when a man suitable for prophecy comes in theName of God, without wanting to add to or take away from, any of thecommandments, but wants us to serve God properly, we do not ask him tosplit the sea, or to resurrect the dead, or to perform some other supernaturalevent, and then believe him, but we tell him to predict the future because heis a prophet, which he does, and we wait to see if what he says happens ornot.  Even if was wrong in only a small matter, he is a false prophet, but ifall of what he said comes true, then he is believed.2)   A prophet has to be checked many times.  If all his words are truethen he is a prophet, as it says with respect to Samuel, "And all Israel, fromDan to Be'er-Sheva, knew that Samuel was accredited as a prophet of theLord".3)   Enchanters and diviners also predict the future, so how do they differfrom a prophet?  Of what enchanters and diviners say some comes true andsome does not, as it is written, "Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, themonthly prognosticators, stand up, and save you from these things shallcome upon you" - it says, "from these things", and not, "from all thesethings", so it is possible that not all of what they said will come true, andthat they were mistaken in everything, as it is written, "...that frustratesthe omens of imposters, and makes diviners mad".  With respect to a[true] prophet, all of what he says comes true, as it is written, "Know nowthat nothing shall fall to the earth of the word of the Lord", and it is alsowritten, "The prophet that has a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hasMy word, let him speak My word faithfully.  What is the chaff of thewheat? says the Lord", that is to say that the words of diviners is likesome chaff into which some wheat has been mixed, whereas the words ofthe Lord are completely true, with no falsehoods at all.  This is backed upby Scripture, which says that prognosticators and diviners deceive thenations with their words, but a prophet makes known truthful matters, andwe do not have to enchant or divine [to verify his words], for it is written,"There must not be found among you anyone that makes his son or hisdaughter pass through the fire...for these nations...The Lord your God willraise up for you a prophet from amongst you".  From here we see that aprophet makes known only earthly matters, such as famine or plenty, war orpeace, and similar things.  Prophets even answer the needs of the one, suchas when Saul had lost an item and went to a prophet to help him find it. A prophet may say what he wants provided that he does not start anotherreligion, add a mitzvah or take one away.4)   If a prophet predicts something bad, such as that so-and-so will die,or that this year will be one of war or famine, et cetera, and his predictiondid not come true, then it is not a disproof of his prophecy and we do notlabel him as a false prophet, for the reason that God is exceedingly mercifuland [often] revokes bad decrees, so it is possible that those on whom evilhad been decreed had, like the citizens of Ninenveh, repented, or had hadtheir decree suspended, as with Hezekiah.  But if, however, the prophetdecreed good things and his prediction did not come true, then he isdefinitely a false prophet, for whenever God makes a good decree, even ifit is conditional, He does not revoke it.  From here we see that a prophetis tested only with respect to good matters.  This is what Jeremiah said inhis answer to Hananiah the son of Azur, when Jeremiah was prophecisingbad things and Hananiah good things:  `If what I say does not come true, itis not a sign that I am a false prophet, but if what you say does not cometrue, it shows that you are a false prophet', for it is written, "Nevertheless,hear now this word...As for the prophet who prophecises for peace, when theword of that prophet shall come to pass, then shall it be known that the Lordhas truly sent the prophet".5)   If a prophet says about another prophet that he is [indeed] a prophet,then he is assumed to be a prophet, and the prophet who said it does nothave to be cross-examined.  Moses vouched for Joshua, and all of Israelbelieved in him before he performed a sign.  Similarly in the followinggenerations:  it is forbidden to doubt or debate the prophecy of a prophetwho has been found to be right time and time again, or the prophecy of aprophet who has been vouched for by another prophet, and it is [also]forbidden to test him excessively or for ever [for one who tests him is likeone who tests God], for it is written, "Do not test the Lord your God as youtested Him in Massah", when we said, "Is the Lord among us, ornot?".  Once it has become known that he is a prophet, they will believeand know that God is amongst them, and they will nor debate or doubt hiswords, in accordance with what is written, "...yet they shall know that therehas been a prophet amongst them".

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