In the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God
We are currently working on a full translation into English from our Hebrew text of the RaMBaM's Complete Restatement of the Oral Law (Mishneh Torah) according to the Yemenite manuscripts. So far, we have released only the Preface, but more will be coming eventually, B"H.
If you know Hebrew somewhat and you have a modern browser supporting logical Hebrew (that is, Hebrew written right to left), you should try our Hebrew - English version. If you know Portuguese better than English, you will probably prefer the Mishneh Torah in Portuguese.
If you know Hebrew well (even if it is much more difficult for you to read than English), you should use our Hebrew version.
All our versions of Mishneh Torah include links to quoted verses from the Bible inside parentheses at the end of each verse, so that you can read the verse in context and see what is generally only suggested by the short quotation brought in Mishneh Torah. In this version, links are in smaller type than the rest of the text and have the usual blue color and underline only when you bring the mouse over a link, so that the links will be less distracting to the eye when reading. Because the browser is unable to scroll the page fully at the end of chapters, you may have to look at the address bar to see the number after the # sign to know which of the verses you see is the one referred to; this is a limitation in current browsers that we hope will be fixed.
The present translation is part of Mechon Mamre's ongoing effort to bring before the Torah learning public, both Jewish and Gentile, our best version of the RaMBaM's Complete Restatement of the Oral Law (Mishneh Torah) in its currently evolving state, as it is developed through examining the texts in the Yemenite manuscripts. Several years ago, our Hebrew version of Mishneh Torah (published in our MTR Freeware) was admittedly only a little better than the usual Vilna reprinted editions; today, we think that it is better than any of the best printed versions (including Qaafih and Frankel); it is even better than the best of the individual manuscripts, which are all marred by significant scribal errors here and there. Our Hebrew version is still being refined, and our updated versions have been published on the Internet twice a year for several years; now that we have put our text online at this site, it is being updated much more regularly, as needed.
At this point, we think that those who know English (even as a second language), but have not managed to learn Hebrew, deserve a good translation of this improved underlying Hebrew text. We have noted with horror the corrupt Hebrew text underlying some of the popular English translations widely available today. We have also been disappointed by the quality of the translation, even of those based on a good Hebrew text; while they are generally written in good English, their content is often hardly parallel to the Hebrew supposedly translated, and sometimes it is the very opposite of the Hebrew. Had we not seen them, we might have hesitated in publishing this version; but since we have seen them, we barely feel that we have a choice in the matter. May God help us do better than those who have gone before us, to present His Covenant with man in its two branches (for Jew and for Gentile) as it really is, as best can be done in English!
We admit that some will say that this publication is premature, which is true; this is an evolving work, like many on the Internet, but it is the best we have so far. We ask your forgiveness, dear reader, for the shortcomings that you may find here; and we most earnestly request that you send us your comments, criticisms, and suggestions for improvement as soon as you can, so that we can quickly improve the translation. We intend to expand and update the translation regularly, until it becomes a polished version of the full accurate Hebrew original, which may take ten or twenty years or perhaps more.
Note on our underlying Hebrew text: This is not a translation of a popular printed version of Mishneh Torah generally photocopied from the old Vilna version, which is generally used in almost all houses of study and Jewish homes despite that it is not at all an accurate text. Thus, we ask you not to write us to tell us that our text is not correct because it disagrees with the popular Vilna version: our version disagrees with it almost everywhere in small details, and occasionally in very significant ways in basic positions on the law ("forbidden" is really permitted, or "permitted" is really forbidden; "fit for use" is really unfit for use, and "unfit for use" is really fit for use; etc.). Those who think we are just exaggerating here should read some of the thousands of fine notes on changes in the text between the manuscripts and the printed versions at the end of each volume of the excellent set edited by the Rav Shabse Frankel (and especially his introductory notes on this matter at the start of volume 2).
If you only read English, you should be very careful about relying on any translation based on the Hebrew of the Vilna edition. If you read Hebrew, you should never learn in the Vilna edition of Mishneh Torah at all, but either in our edition here or the Rav QaafiH's edition from Machon Moshe (sometimes known as the Kappach edition). Or, if you have the patience for it, you might learn in the Rav Frankel's edition: but if and only if you have the patience to read all of the notes on the correct versions according to the manuscripts at the end of each volume, a task that is beyond most students of the Torah, for Frankel does not bring the correct text "inside" but in his end notes only.
Earlier generations had no choice, but today we have fine editions for those who want to read Mishneh Torah as it should be published, which should be used exclusively in our studies, whether online or offline.
last updated: 9 February 2004