Portuguese-speaking Jews will, for the first time in 138 years, be able to study the landmark Kitzur Shulchan Aruch in their mother tongue following its release by a Brazilian-based Chabad-Lubavitch publishing house.

The two volume set features Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried's original Hebrew alongside a Portuguese translation. It is published by the Maayanot firm headed by Rabbi Dovid Weitman, founder of Beit Chabad Morumbi in S. Paulo.

When it was published in 1870, the Kitzur, as it is colloquially known, quickly gained popularity for its condensing of rulings found in the seminal Shulchan Aruch, or Code of Jewish Law, authored some 350 years earlier by Rabbi Yosef Caro of Spain. Many people, including children, study the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch on a regular basis, preferring its easy-to-grasp codification as an introductory birds-eye-view to daily Jewish life.

Included in the new edition is a timeline of the development of Jewish law from Moses until modern times and a collection of biographies of the major legal decisors in Jewish history. Diagrams and illustrations help the reader understand difficult concepts, such as how to build a sukkah; and an appendix explains all of the 39 types of primary labor forbidden on Shabbat.

What makes the edition remarkable for Portuguese-speaking Jews, says Weitman, is that it also contains footnotes delineating the variant rulings among Sephardic Jews – those groups of Jews descended from the outcasts of Spain and Portugal during the Middle Ages, a population that includes many of Brazil's Jews – and Chasidim.

According to Weitman, Rabbi Yossef Benzecry, a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in S. Paulo, spent more than four years on the translation.

"It's done in a very special and beautiful way," says Weitman.

Maayanot’s first widely-published project was a 1992 translation of a Chasidic discourse after the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, instructed Weitman to disseminate Torah to the Portuguese-speaking community. To date, the firm has published more than 120 volumes on Jewish law, historical stories and Chasidic thought.

While it will offer its Kitzur Shulchan Aruch for sale, Maayanot will also distribute the work to places in Lisbon, Mozambique and Angola, as well as to all Chabad Houses, Jewish bookstores and public libraries in Brazil. It gave 100 advance copies to Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries at the conclusion of a rabbinical conference earlier this month.

The book will be formally unveiled to the public at a March 6 luncheon in Buenos Aires.

Weitman says that the beauty of the Kitzur lies in its ability to simply tell a Jew how G‑d wants him or her to act in a certain circumstance.

"People not only need philosophy," he explains, "but they also need to know how the Torah expects them to behave: what to do and what not to do."