Siyum Rambam

In 1984, the Lubavitcher Rebbe instituted the daily learning of the Rambam, i.e. the 14 books known as Mishneh Torah (or Yad HaHazaka) written by Maimonides more than 800 years ago.

Although this was not the first initiative to study the entire Rambam, this one caught on and the daily study of the Rambam became widespread (and not only among Chabad). There are two main study paths for the daily learners: 1 chapter per day (a study cycle of 3 years), and 3 chapters per day (a study cycle of 1 year).

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My personal 3-year journey of studying the Rambam daily came to an end this past Shabbat. Appropriately, I made the siyum (ending) at the Chabad House in Tokyo, during the Friday night Shabbat meal, with local friends and guests from around the world who are visiting Japan. I started and ended the Rambam with Sefer Nashim, the laws pertaining to women.

Although Rambam’s codification of Jewish Law is not the guiding halachah book of our times, it remains the foremost source for an all-encompassing study of halachah. Most of the topics covered by the Rambam are not of practical significance in our day and age – sacrifices, agricultural laws, ritual purity, civil law, and more. However, as the Rambam himself wrote in the foreword to his monumental work:

…a person will not need another text at all with regard to any Jewish law. Rather, this text will be a compilation of the entire Oral Law.

I studied with the Rambam Yomi edition, which I highly recommend for its clarity and conciseness.

A few years ago I finished my first cycle of the Daf Yomi (I’m now well into the second cycle). So I will end by quoting the hadran prayer accompanying a siyum of a Talmud tractate, adapted to the Rambam study:

We will return to you, Rambam, and you will return to us; our mind is on you, Rambam, and your mind is on us; we will not forget you, Rambam, and you will not forget us – not in this world and not in the world to come.

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