One of the aims of this blog is to set out realistic attainable goals in being able to work through learning the main works of Torah.
Many of these works seem insurmountable. Yet with diligence and effort, one can manage to work through many of these main works of Torah in good time.
Some may think learning all these works may be unattainable even through their entire lives, but when one follows the advice of our Sages, one can readily see that many times, one can work through major works in just one year.
All it takes is steady learning each day.
Sometimes just two chapters a day. Sometimes three. But with a realistic goal in sight, one can indeed manage these schedules and succeed in learning huge amounts of Torah, building up a storehouse of knowledge of the fullness and richness of the entire Torah.
While working through just one page of Talmud a day will allow one to work through the entire ShaS (the entire oral Torah,) in about seven and a half years - there is another way of gaining the essential laws from Shas by working through another major classic.
The Rambam - the Yad HaChazaka - the Mishneh Torah: the Magnum Opus written by Maimonides (1135-1204) includes 1000 chapters of Jewish law summarizing the full gamut of laws as brought in the Oral Law of Torah - the Talmud.
In the year 5742 (1982), The Lubavitcher Rebbe began a new campaign asking all Jews to unite in their learning of the Rambam each day in order to complete the learning of all the laws of the Torah together. He allowed for three schedules:
- Those wishing to complete the cycle of learning Rambam in one year could do so by learning 3 chapters a day.
- If one is unable to do this, one can learn one chapter a day and complete the cycle over 3 years.
- And if one is still unable to cope with this schedule, one can learn the relevant chapters from the Rambam's more concise code of law - the Sefer HaMitzvos. This is recommended especially for women and those people starting out in learning the basic laws of the Torah in an easily digestable form.
This is no excuse for not learning Talmud - and one must put in effort to learning all parts of Torah.
The Talmud is the absolute root of the entire Oral Law. One can never exempt oneself from learning it because it appears difficult.
Nevertheless when we wish to progress in actual law, the Rambam is by far the greatest main root source for understanding what the Law of the Torah is all about. Indeed, it is the absolute royal road to understanding all aspects of Torah Law (including the Shulchan Aruch and onwards.)
On the other side, one who learns Talmud while referencing back to the Rambam gains an even greater appreciation of just how great the Rambam was in setting up his work as he had done.
Someone with a solid foundation of Rambam literally carries the basic keys to opening up all of Jewish Law. Nevertheless, one who learns Rambam, by no means becomes an Halachic authority of any kind - as in many cases we do not follow the Rambam. But he certainly has the advantage of being aware of all aspects of Jewish law as they are dealt with in the root Oral Law itself - the Talmud.
The Rambam includes laws that are applicable in our times, as well as those laws applicable only at the times that the Temple is standing. And being that life changes and the Torah needs to be understood for the particular generation living at that time (i.e. as is dealt with by the Halachic authorities of the generation) - many things that the Rambam speaks about need to be questioned and applied and re-learned so that we can understand his words better for our times. All these matters need to be spoken of in much greater detail and cannot be dealt with adequately in a short column such as this.
The above points in no way allow for not learning Talmud - nor for following the ways of conservative and reform Judaism or any other practice of Judaism foreign to traditional Orthodox values as taught by the leading sages of the generation. Rambam is not the final authority in Jewish law, yet he definitely contains the roots for truly progressing in one's own learning.
The beauty of learning Rambam includes:
- One can complete learning the entire Oral Law in ONE YEAR and become an expert in the entire Torah!!!
- It contains the root to all Jewish Law - it is the royal road to Jewish law!
- The language is clear and easy to follow.
- The laws are straight forward without the need to debate the issues (at root level.)
- One can unite with tens of thousands of Jews around the world in learning the same piece of Torah each day
See the study schedule for this year:
For further interest read about "Unity through Rambam"
To become more involved with audio Shiurim and more, see:
To receive the Sefer HaMitzvos in your inbox in English, - go to:
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE LIFE OF THE RAMBAM SEE:
"Without questioning and resolving... the point of it is in order that no person will need any other work... but rather this compilation is a compendium to the entire Oral Torah with enactments and customs and decrees that were made from the days of Moses our teacher up until the compilation of the Gemara, and just like the Geonim explained to us in all their compilations that they compiled after the Gemara.
"Therefore I have called the name of this compilation "Mishneh Torah" (Second Torah) - since a person reads the Written Torah first and afterwards he reads this and he knows from it the ENTIRE ORAL TORAH!!! AND HE DOESN'T NEED TO READ ANY OTHER BOOK BETWEEN THEM!!!"
COMMENTS ABOUT LEARNING RAMBAM FROM OUR RABBIS:
"A person should learn Jewish law (Halacha) every day from the book "Yad HaChazaka" according to an order."; "In the evening after the evening prayers (Maariv) he should learn the holy RAMBAM, for I received from my holy techer (i.e. the Baal Shem Tov) that it is a Segula (a charm and treasure) for obtaining fear of heaven and to destroy the external evil forces (Chitzonim)!!!"
--- The Maggid of Mezritch. Rabbi Dov Ber (? - 1772)
"A person needs to complete 613 Mitzvos in action, in speech and in thought. And therefore one should learn "The Great Hand" of the RAMBAM... that in it is the explanation for the 613 Mitzvos."
--- Sefer Ohr Tzaddikim by Rabbi Meir Poppers of the students of the Ari
"I added that every day they should learn... a few laws from the RAMBAM. and Maharash ben HaRashbatz wrote in his responsa Simon 52 that if one learns two laws of RAMBAM, he fulfills "Learning Halachos each day" and it is assured that he has a place in the world to come!!!"
--- The Chida - Rabbi Chaim Dovid Azulai
"Be careful and enthusiastic in the study of RAMBAM"
--- Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotsk
"At the Seer of Lublin they would delay in davening Mincha each day - and also on Shabbos... and before Mincha the holy Rabbi of Lublin would enter his room and studied one law of the RAMBAM - and so was his holy way"
--- Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak Horwitz (the Seer of Lublin)
"I heard from the mouth of the Chassid Rabbi Yitzchak Landau that Rabbi Aharon of Belz was strict in not letting one day pass without learning a few laws in RAMBAM, and this study was considered by him in the category of a 'statute that one does not transgress'"
--- Concerning Rabbi Aharon of Belz
OUR CONTEMPORARY SAGES:
"I bless all those who join in the study of RAMBAM, and at their head the holy honorable ADMOR of Lubavitch, may Hashem lengthen his days and years with pleasantness and make the Torah great and glorious - Amen, so may it be His will... And upon them should come the blessing of good in the spiritual and material, Amen, so may it be His will."
--- Rabbi Yitzchak Kaduri - head of the Kabbalists in the Holy Land (? - 2006)
"In the study of RAMBAM there is a great thing like the learning of ShaS. Firstly that the entire community of Israel will learn all the Mitzvos, and in addition to this, there is the great and wonderous matter that the community of Israel will learn together one thing, because the united responsibility that all Israel are mutually responsible for each other and intertwined with each other... And it is definitely worthwhile to join and to learn, and afterwards they'll feel the pleasantness and the sweetness of RAMBAM"
--- The Pnei Menachem - Rebbe of Ger (said at the concluding ceremony of the learning of Rambam)
"The essential thing of fulfilling the covenant with our Father in heaven is by studying Torah in depth, in order to learn and teach, to guard and to do and to fulfill. Certainly it is impossible to guard and to do if not through the decisions of our Rabbis - the Rishonim through whose mouths we live. To study the final rulings of the RAMBAM, great intensive study of Shas - this is a great essential in the fulfillment of the Mitzvos "You shall go in My statutes - you should toil in Torah", to make the Torah great and glorify it. WELL DONE TO THE ADMOR OF LUBAVTICH THAT HE MERITED AND HAS CAUSED THE MULTITUDE TO MERIT THE COMMANDMENTS OF STUDYING TORAH FOR IT'S OWN SAKE - WHICH IS WEIGHTED OUT AGAINST EVERYTHING!"
--- Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (Halachic Rabbinical authority of our generation)
"From the time that the ADMOR of Lubavitch instituted the daily learning of Rambam, my grandfather the Gaon began to learn a lesson in Rambam every day in a fixed manner."
--- A grandchild of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein