"Mechon Mamre" is Hebrew for "the Mamre Institute". Mamre is the name of the place where Abraham our patriarch lived (see Genesis 13,18). Abraham is the forefather of both Jews and Gentiles who live by the instructions of God, and our site is intended for Jew and Gentile alike.
Mechon Mamre is a small group of observant Jewish Torah scholars in Israel who live by the plain and simple meaning of the RaMBaM's Mishneh Torah and actively encourage others to do so. Most of us belong to the mainstream "Baladi" Yemenite Jewish community, continuing the tradition of living by the Mishneh Torah since the very days when the RaMBaM lived, and are students of the Rav Yosef ben-Dawid QaafiH zS"l (the leading rabbinical expert in recent generations on the teachings of the RaMBaM in general and on his Mishneh Torah in particular).
But we have been helped in developing our Written and Oral Torah texts and freeware programs since 1990 by dozens of others from all well-known parts of observant Judaism, including Chasidim and Mitnagdim, Ashkenazim and Sepharadim, Europeans and Orientals, both from inside Israel and from all over the diaspora.
We are currently particularly looking for proofreaders to help us polish the Yerushalmi. If you want to You may also help us by providing financial support for our work.
Mishneh Torah was the first, and is still the only, full codification of all of the divine laws of the special covenant between the LORD God and Israel as well as the general Noachide covenant between the LORD God and the Gentiles (no, we do not mean the so-called "New Testament"), with all of the rabbinic legislation developed in accordance with those laws: for all people, for all places, and for all times (until the reestablishment of the Sanhedrin in Israel--may we be blessed to reestablish it, in our time!).
Our original main purpose in this site was to put before you (whether Jew or Gentile) the most accurate currently available version of the Mishneh Torah Code in its entirety, to provide you with guidance for its proper study and understanding, and to encourage you to actually observe its clear and brief formulation of the divine laws. But we soon realized that since the Oral Law and the Written Law are ultimately one and they should be learned and observed together, we needed to complete our online Torah-learning resources by adding the Hebrew Bible in various versions tailored to the needs of learners at differing stages in their learning.
Our version of Mishneh Torah in its Hebrew original has been carefully edited according to the majority of the Yemenite manuscripts, and we are certain that there is today no more accurate version of Mishneh Torah available either in print or for computer. Despite that, we continue to check the versions of the manuscripts for further refinements of our text.
Our Hebrew versions of the Biblical texts are based upon the Aleppo Codex and similar ancient manuscripts.
Our English versions of the Biblical texts are based upon the 1917 JPS translation, with minor formatting changes.
Please note that while we provide the texts (for free!), we do not engage in textual interpretation. The very fine site Sefaria has resources of that nature, if that is what you are looking for.
"ktiv" vs "qri"
Where the Biblical text is written one way ("ktiv") and pronounced differently ("qri"), we've chosen to highlight the "qri" in this manner:
For those of you used to printed versions of holy texts, our layout and punctuation may seem strange, at least initially. For example:
בראשית יז,יב ובן-שמונת ימים, יימול לכם כל-זכר--לדורותיכם: יליד בית--ומקנת-כסף מכול בן-נכר, אשר לא מזרעך הוא.
You may say it needs a colon at the end, not in the middle! And why is there a "--" in there, and a comma?
The full explanation of these punctuation marks may be found in the Hebrew version of this page. Here we'll give a synopsis.
All pesuqim end with a period '.' and each half-pasuq (clause) may end with a comma ',' a double hyphen '--' a semicolon ';' or a colon ':' — corresponding to the "cantillation marks" of the text. The marks in order of increasing "weight" are: , -- ; : .
In addition to this punctuation, you will find some other markup in the text:
The full explanation of our path may be found in the Hebrew version of this page. Here we'll give a synopsis.
We follow the Law (e.g. halakha) as summarized by Rambam, to the best of our abilities. To understand why we do, our guiding principles are:
It is our firm belief, based upon what Rambam himself wrote in the introduction to Mishneh Torah, that every Jew, of whatever background in Torah study, can learn all the practical Law by diligently studying the Tana"kh as well as the Mishneh Torah.
There is no need to refer to other halakhic works, in order to understand what the practical Law is.
The only customs, enactments, etc. which are applicable to us are those which the Sanhedrin established in their day. Nobody subsequent to them has the halakhic authority to establish their own and force anyone to abide by them.
We learn Law according to the simple meaning of the text, as Rambam was very precise in his wording. We learn "aggadic" material according to hermeneutic methods, rather than literal understanding.
One who learns Talmud Bavli (e.g. "daf yomi" etc) without having a complete knowledge of the Tana"kh, Mishnah, Yerushalmi, and other pre-Bavli halakhic works is like one who builds a house without first building a foundation. Therefore, it is our opinion that the most accessible and correct learning method for those who don't have the ability or the time to very thoroughly learn the foundational texts, is to learn Tana"kh (Torah as well as Nevi'im and Ketuvim!) and Mishne Torah, as thoroughly as possible.