In concluding his monumental compendium of Jewish Law, the Mishne Torah, Rabbi Moses Maimonides wrote: “In the entire text, there are halachot (laws) and 982 chapters. Complete and perfect with praise to G-d, Creator of the World.” In synagogues, yeshivahs and Chabad centers around the world, there were festive gatherings Monday to mark the 31st completion of all 982 chapters in one year by those studying three chapters a day.
According to participants, the celebrations were not just to mark the completion of a year of rigorous study, but as a prelude to the next cycle of study they will begin anew the next day, Tuesday, Feb. 5.
Whether in daily classes in synagogues and Chabad Houses; random study throughout the workday; or in the recent explosion in the number of individuals learning the Mishne Torah daily at their home computers at any hour, hundreds of thousands, young and old, are continuing to follow the call in 1984 by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, who instituted the practice of studying Maimonides’ code daily.
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When initiating the first cycle of study, the Rebbe stressed the unity that would result from the knowledge that Jewish people around the world were studying the same subject in Torah at the same time.
Recognizing both varying time commitments and different backgrounds in study, the Rebbe suggested three alternatives: A three-chapter-a-day cycle that completes the Mishne Torah in a little less than a year, a one-chapter-a-day cycle that completes the work in a little less than three years, and for children and those who may not have the background for more rigorous study, a daily review of related topics in Maimonides’ Sefer Hamitzvos, which lists the 613 commandments in the Torah with a brief explanation of each commandment.
Participation in the daily study of Mishne Torah has grown dramatically in recent years with the availability on Chabad.org of the full text of the work in both Hebrew and English, and through the recent addition of one-chapter-a-day video classes taught by Rabbi Yehoshua B. Gordon on Jewish.tv, the multimedia portal of Chabad.org. Also on Jewish.tv, Rabbi Mendel Kaplan studies the daily lesson in Maimonides' Sefer Hamitzvot according to the daily study cycle of all 613 commandments.
Chabad.org also features a special mini-site with links to a variety of media devoted to the teachings, scholarship, history and achievements of Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, popularly known as Maimonides or the Rambam. Talmudist, Halachist, physician, philosopher and communal leader, he remains one of the most important figures in the history of Torah scholarship.