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"Hear O' Israel, HaShem is our G-d, HaShem alone"

Rambam on Context

This is taken from Maimonides Epistle to Yemin, a community under great pressure at the time to convert out of Judaism, in that case, to Islam. What he shared with them, is just as applicable today as it was then, and to any situation where a missionary tries to use the Jewish Scriptures to cause Jews to abandon the Eternal Covenant.

"Remember that it is not right to take a passage out of its context and argue from it. Before making any deduction, it is imperative to take into account the preceding and following contents in order to comprehend the meaning and fathom the writer's aim. If it were permissible for anyone to draw proff from passages out of context, someone would have the right to say that G-d has forbidden us in the Torah to obey any prophet, and interdicted belief in miracles, for he could site the passage: Do not heed the words of that prophet [Duet 13:4]. He could also maintain that G-d commands us to worship idols, for He says" There you will serve man-made gods [Deut. 4:28]. Other illustrations could be multiplied ad libitum. But this is absolutely vicious. No text can possibly be cited as evidence before the aim of the author and its context are grasped."

Epistles of Maimonides: Crisis and Leadership, "The Epistle to Yemin", Abraham Halkin translator, JPS, p 110.

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© Copyright 1997 Keepers of the Covenant and G. Shapiro