1. On this Shabbos several important events join together and should be noted: 1) It is the 15th of the month when the moon is in its full phase. 2) It is the 15th of Shevat, the New Year’s Day for Trees. 3) Today is Shabbos Shira (the Song of the Sea is read in the Torah). 4) A more recent event in our own generation is also noted this week, being the Shabbos immediately following the Tenth of Shevat, the yahrzeithillula (day of passing) of the Previous Rebbe, the Nasi of our generation.

We must take instruction from each of these items and from all of them together, and the lessons gleaned should be pertinent for all, men, women and children, as every lesson of Torah is for all Israel, since Torah was given to every Jew as a personal inheritance.

We will find that each of these topics includes the aspects of ascension, innovation and perfection in a person’s Divine service for himself, and how it affects others as well as the nations of the world.

By combining all of these subjects the day itself also teaches and energizes everyone in a manner that will be radiated to all the surroundings.

As the Shabbos which follows the Tenth of Shevat, the day of passing of the Previous Rebbe, it brings to perfection the completeness effected by the yahrzeit itself. Chassidus explains that every year on a yahrzeit “all of actions and teachings” of a tzaddik reach a new state of perfection and radiate to the followers and disciples of the tzaddik. In the case of a Nasi — the leader of the generation — this spiritual benevolence affects everyone. Since the life of a righteous man is made up essentially of his faith, fear and love of G‑d, after his passing all of his followers can easily absorb these aspects. When his descendants then live with this faith and fear and love of G‑d, “just as his seed will be alive, so too will he be alive.” (Taanis 5b)

Therefore, this Shabbos which follows the hillula adds perfection to the picture and generates to everyone the power and potential to increase their Divine service in the three areas of Torah, prayer and charity (mitzvos) — the three pillars on which the world stands; increased Torah study, enhanced mitzvah observance and intensity of prayer. Special emphasis should be given to the unique contribution of the Previous Rebbe who encouraged and promoted the publication of Chassidic philosophy in many languages to make it available to those Jews who presently cannot study Chassidus in the original.

Today is the 15th of the month. The Jewish people are compared to the moon and therefore our calendar is a lunar calendar. Our history has also mirrored this similarity, for just as the moon waxes and wanes, we too, have certainly had our ups and downs and “we are destined to be renewed like the moon.” (Siddur)

Consequently, when the moon is full it indicates that the light of the Jewish people is likewise shining brightly. And the life of every individual Jew is rich and full, especially in the area of “mitzvah candles” and “Torah light”; above and beyond the accomplishments of previous months.

The full moon also illuminates the world for others and radiates its benevolence on the earth, the plants, the rivers and oceans in a beneficent way so that its blessing is felt universally.

In our Divine service, the individual’s complete involvement in the light of mitzvah and Torah (represented by the full moon) should apply not only to oneself but it should also radiate to the surroundings, to one’s fellow Jews as well as to the whole world — including non-Jews. For the Rambam has ruled:

Moshe our teacher commanded us, by Divine ordinance, to compel all human beings to accept the commandments enjoined upon the descendants of Noach. (Rambam, Laws of Kings 8:10)

On the 15th of Shevat we celebrate the New Year for Trees which is considered a holiday, and we omit the penitential prayers. It is also customary to eat fruits on Tu BiShevat.

One of the reasons for human celebration of the Tree New Year is based on a verse in Torah. The Gemara tells us that from the verse, “For the tree of the field [is] man,” (Devarim 20:19) we learn that man is compared to a tree. (see Taanis 7a) This is a bit puzzling to equate the qualities of a human being, the highest order of creation, with the attributes of the botanical world.

Is man praiseworthy if he possesses treelike qualities? Human beings are similar to trees in certain aspects of growth, such as hair and nails, which grow continuously and are seemingly inanimate and vegetable-like, but man certainly possesses the much loftier characteristics of being “alive” and intelligent. Can we say that man’s true fulfillment lies in the fact that he grows hair or nails, similar to the trees?! Consequently, it is puzzling to see that man is compared to the tree.

This may be explained in the following manner: “Of all that the Holy One, Blessed be He, created in His world, He did not create a single thing without purpose.” (Shabbos 77b) Moreover, He created everything, “solely for His glory.” (Avos 6:11) Based on this principle we must say that every creation — even a vegetable — possesses some quality or faculty not found in all other created things, not even in humans. This unique attribute must serve as an example for all other branches of existence to learn from and to be inspired.

One of the characteristics of the botanical world vis-à-vis animals and humans is the continuity of growth. Human beings, on the other hand, go through periods of growth, stagnation and aging. The continual botanical growth also bears fruit regularly, while humans go through a period when the reproductive powers cease.

Since man is viewed as a microcosm, he includes aspects of the four worlds of mineral (inanimate), botanical, animal and human. Thus, we may legitimately attribute — in a metaphorical sense — the unique tree-like qualities to humans.

What does man learn and glean from trees? The power to constantly grow and increase in his spiritual Divine service, during all phases of his life. This concept has been coined and paraphrased by our sages in the dictum:

Torah scholars have no rest (because they are always progressing in their spiritual strivings)...as it says, “they go from strength to strength, everyone of them to appear before G‑d in Tziyon.” (Berachos 64a)

Not only do they possess this constant self-growth, but they also continually give forth “fruit” by teaching and influencing others, and: “He who teaches the son of his neighbor Torah, Scripture ascribes it to him as if he had begotten him.” (Sanhedrin 19b)

Based on our understanding of the theme of Rosh Hashanah we may appreciate the lesson of Tu BiShevat. Just as the head “encompasses” all the organs of the body so does the “head” of the year comprise the entire year. And, so too, does the Rosh Hashanah of Trees serve as a “head” in the realm of continuous spiritual growth which bears fruit all year round. On this day the new cycle in the Divine service of “man as tree” begins and invigorates man’s advancement from “strength to strength,” in a manner which will influence everyone around him. Today a new potential is generated to rise to a level that could not be attained previously — and continue to rise until next Tu BiShevat — when a new burst of energy will once again be forthcoming.

Shabbos Shira is the name given to the Shabbos on which we read the portion of Beshallach which includes the Song of the Sea. The Shira was a poem of praise and tribute chanted by Moshe and the Jewish people in gratitude for the miracle of the splitting of the Red Sea. The miracles of the sea culminated the process of liberation from Egypt and provided a fitting step in the ongoing preparations for Matan Torah (the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai).

In Chassidic parlance the splitting of the sea effected a connection between the revealed world and the hidden worlds. In the Divine service of a Jew it represents a revelation from the essential, sequestered roots of the soul, which places this paean of praise among the loftiest of all Divine services. As Chassidus describes it:

A hymn and surging forward of the essence (yechidah) of the soul, which is truly the innermost essence of the soul. (Maamar Az Yashir, 5677)

Here too, the influence was projected not only to the Jewish people but also to all the nations, as the Mechilta relates that at the time of the crossing of the sea all the waters of the world split in sympathy with the Red Sea.

At the close of the “Song of the Sea” we find: “the Sanctuary which Your hands, O L‑rd, have established. The L‑rd reigns forever and ever.” (Shemos 15:17-18) This verse refers to the future Beis HaMikdash in which are expressed the sum total and perfection of all man’s Divine service and the apex of all worldly matters — for there is the place wherein the Shechinah dwells.

All this reappears and reemerges each year on Shabbos Shira, and since we increase matters of holiness, each year it is a new and loftier song.

We may now discern the common theme in all of these events — a new aspect of Divine service which begins a new cycle, year, or facet in Divine service: 1) The Shabbos after the Tenth of Shevat, the Yahrzeit, when the Tzaddik and all his generation rose to a loftier level. 2) The 15th of the month, when the Jewish people are endowed with new wholeness since they are compared to the moon. 3) The 15th of Shevat begins a new year of spiritual growth from strength to strength. 4) The new song of Shabbos Shira which expresses a new perfection in the Divine service of Song of Praise — the outpouring of the general soul — which is the general Divine service of man. In all of these matters there is also the aspect of radiation to the environment.

This is all further emphasized since this year is a Shemitah year which began on a Shabbos. Shabbos connotes loftiness and completion. On Shabbos your work is done and you have more time to devote to spiritual matters in a incomparably pleasurable manner. Consequently, this year the potential for increased intensity in Divine service is immense, and the opportunity should not be lost.

Starting from this day, which follows the yahrzeit and is the New Year for Trees, everyone should experience a new surge of growth and strength on all areas of Divine service and especially Torah, prayer and good deeds, to add to and reach perfection for self and others, including the Seven Noachide Laws among the nations of the world.

At this time of new beginnings it is appropriate to introduce a new aspect of Divine service in our lives, and we may look to Torah for this guidance and inspiration. At the conclusion of the Song of the Sea we find the following words:

The Sanctuary which Your hands O L‑rd have established. The L‑rd shall reign forever and ever.

The “Sanctuary” refers to the future Beis HaMikdash, the ultimate goal and perfection of all human striving. All our Divine service must be geared to create a dwelling place, so that G‑d will not only be in “it,” but within “every Jew.” The Jew must be worthy of being a “dwelling place” for the Shechinah; this is, after all the purpose of all creation: “The Holy One, Blessed be He, desired to have an abode in the lower worlds.” (Tanya 36) This is effected through Torah, prayer and good deeds. Being so fundamental a theme, we are forced to say that it is always pertinent, even when the Beis HaMikdash is not standing in the time of galus.

At the same time — any matter of grave importance always needs proper preparation. We must therefore be involved now in activities which will realize this goal.

We prepare for the real Beis HaMikdash by building mini-sanctuaries now. Our sages expressed this in many different ways:

Since the day that the Temple was destroyed, the Holy One, Blessed be He, has nothing in His world, but the four cubits of Halachah alone. (Berachos 8a)

Yet I have been for them a small sanctuary. (Yechezkel 11:16) This refers to the synagogues and houses of learning.... (Megillah 29a)

Every great man’s house...the place where Torah is magnified...the place where prayer is magnified. (Megillah 27a)

This means that when we establish a synagogue and house of learning during the diaspora we build a “mini-Sanctuary,” analogous to the Sanctuary of old and it prepares for the Third Beis HaMikdash of the future. For this brings Torah and prayer into the world.

With this in mind there has recently been an urgent call to establish mini-Sanctuaries wherever there are Jews, especially houses which foster Torah, prayers and acts of loving-kindness. These mini-Sanctuaries must be available so that any Jew will feel free to enter, to study, pray or give charity and it will likewise illuminate the entire city. And being similar to the Beis HaMikdash which was “a house of prayer for all nations,” it too, will influence the nations of the world.

This also extends itself to the life of every Jew, man, woman and child to make their homes, or rooms, places of Torah, prayer and charity. By practicing Torah, prayer and charity every day and at the same time, by devoting the soul powers of thought, speech and deed to be constant vehicles for Torah, prayer and charity, every Jew will create a mini-Sanctuary in himself and in his home.

It is therefore proposed: let a new approach be adopted to delineate the Divine service of this new year. Let first priority be given to the establishment of mini-Sanctuaries — houses of Torah, prayer and acts of lovingkindness — everywhere, in every community and by every individual in his/her own home.

This undertaking should not be seen as one detail among many other important activities, rather it must take precedence and preeminence, so that the main efforts will be concentrated on this project during the coming year. Let it become the practice of which you will be “most observant,” (See Shabbos 118b) and as expounded in Chassidic philosophy it should be the “gate” through which all of your Torah and mitzvos ascend.

While not diminishing any other activities, this should be given expanded emphasis, and as the “gate” it will improve all other areas of Torah and mitzvos.

Here the Jewish children can play a major role in creating a House of Torah, Prayer and Charity. We may draw an illustration of this point from the special role of the children in the Song of the Sea.

On Shabbos Shirah, 5702, the Previous Rebbe related that the Maharal of Prague (Rabbi Yehudah Lowe) established a custom — hopefully the custom will be reinstituted — that during the week before Shabbos Beshallach he would inform all the teachers and parents of small children to bring their children to the courtyard of the synagogue on Shabbos Shira. There they were told the story of the splitting of the sea and how the birds sang and chirped at the time that Moshe and the Jewish people burst out into the song of “Az Yashir.” The children picked fruits from the trees that had sprouted in the sea-bed and fed the singing birds.

The Maharal then distributed “kashe” (buckwheat) to the children with which to feed the birds and fowl as a remembrance of the fruits of the sea which the children gave to the birds.

After this the Maharal blessed the children and their parents with the traditional blessing: to raise them and educate them, that the children should grow up to Torah, Chuppah and good deeds.

The Midrash tells us that when G‑d revealed Himself at the Red Sea and the Jewish people crossed the sea miraculously, the children recognized the revelation of G‑dliness first and they were the first to sing praise. (Shemos Rabbah 23:8) It is in the Song of the Sea that we have the verse: “The Sanctuary which Your hands O L‑rd have established.”

Every year on Shabbos Shira this important role of the children reemerges and is preeminent — to be the first to sing praise. Thus, it is appropriate that in the activity of the coming year the children should play an important role.

Every Jewish boy and girl should make his/her own room (bed, table, desk) a House for Torah, Prayer and Charity. There he/she studies Torah, recites prayers and puts charity into a tzedakah box. Naturally, they will also invite their friends into their rooms to also study and pray, etc.

To strengthen this project it is advisable that every child should be given a Siddur (prayer book), a Chumash (Bible) of his/her own and also a Tzedakah box. Each should be inscribed with the customary words: “The world and all that fills it belongs to G‑d” and then with the name of the child. Having their own books and pushkah will lend important motivation to the children and encourage them to do these important projects.

This suggestion applies even to small children who do not yet talk, and even an infant whose own cradle is festooned with the words of “Shir HaMaalos” — and for whom Torah is studied and prayers are said — and tzedakah is given for him.

By working first with the children, the parents will be enriched. Children are more easily influenced and excited by a new project and we see that consequently, the parents will also be involved and enthusiastic.

May this increase in the Torah of the children speed the elimination of the enemies, so that “ours is victorious” and no shadow of the antagonist will remain, and all will be accomplished in peace, as we find at the close of the Mishnah:

The Holy One, Blessed be He, found no vessel that could contain blessing for Israel save that of peace, as it is written: “The L‑rd will give strength unto His people; the L‑rd will bless His people with peace.” (End of Tractate Uktzin)

The perfection of this will come with the ultimate redemption when the glory of the L‑rd will be revealed and all flesh will see G‑dliness.

From the Song of the Sea — “this is my G‑d and I will exalt Him,” we will come to the future song:

In the days to come the Holy One, Blessed be He, will hold a chorus for the righteous and He will sit in their midst in the Garden of Eden and everyone of them will point with his finger towards Him, as it is said: “And it shall be said in that day: ‘Lo, this is our G‑d, for whom we have waited, that He might save us; this is the L‑rd for whom we have waited, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation’” (Yeshayahu 25:9) (Taanis 31a)

Then the promise will be fulfilled:

You did restore the favor to the land... Let us behold Your loving-kindness O L‑rd and Your salvation, O grant it to us...that glory may again dwell in our land. (Tehillim 85:2,8,10)

Then we will partake of the fruits of Eretz Yisrael and of the trees of Yerushalayim, in Yerushalayim the Holy City, and the fruits which will grow in the Third Beis HaMikdash.

As the Midrash says, in the future G‑d will bring back the fruits that were in the Beis HaMikdash, speedily and truly in our days with joy and glad hearts.

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2. Near the close of today’s Torah portion we find the verse: “Amalek arrived and attacked Israel there in Rephidim.” (Shemos 17:8)

Rashi turns to this verse and comments:

Amalek arrived — Scripture places this section immediately after the (preceding) verse (they had asked, “Is G‑d with us or not?”) to imply, “I am ever among you and ready at hand for everything you may need, and (yet) you say ‘Is G‑d with us or not?’ By your lives (I swear) that the hound (Amalek) shall come and bite you and you will cry for Me and then you will know where I am!” A parable: (it may be compared) to a man who carried his son upon his shoulder, and went out on a journey. The son saw an article and said, “Father, pick up that thing and give it to me.” He gave it to him, and so a second time and so also a third time. They met a certain man to whom the son said, “Have you seen my father anywhere?” Whereupon his father said to him, “Don’t you know where I am?” — He therefore, cast him off from himself and a hound came and bit him. (Rashi, loc. cit.)

Several questions have been raised on this Rashi:

1) Immediately preceding the attack of Amalek the Torah related the story of the lack of water when the Israelites came to Rephidim. As a result of their complaints, G‑d told Moshe to strike a boulder from which water would gush forth. It was because of their previous argumentative stance that the section closed with the paraphrase: “Is G‑d with us or not?”

Now, the story of the water from the rock and the story of Amalek took place in the same place — Rephidim. They also occurred in tandem — one right after the other. Between the 22nd of Iyar and Rosh Chodesh Sivan the Jewish people left the Wilderness of Sin, both incidents took place, and they moved on to the wilderness of Sinai; as is obvious from the Scriptural description of the stories.

If so, why must Rashi seek some explanation for the juxtaposition of these two stories when their connection and association is implicit and obvious?

2) Once Rashi does deal with this question, and explains that the connection pinpoints and implies that G‑d is always ready at hand to protect us, what further explanation is added by presenting the parable of the father and son — the lesson is clear even without the analogy.

3) A careful study of the parable raises several points which seem to contradict the story of Amalek:

a) In the analogy the child asks for things which the father gives him three times. In the analogue G‑d says: “I am ever among you....”

b) In the parable we find the father carrying his child on his shoulder — this detail does not appear in the present case.

c) In the analogy they meet “a certain man,” who does not come into play in the story of Amalek.

4) And finally, there is the klotz kashe which should have been obvious but was overlooked. When the Jews complained of finding no water after reaching Rephidim, G‑d sends Moshe to strike the rock:

I will stand before you there on the rock at Chorev. You must strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink. (Shemos 17:6)

Having camped in Rephidim why should it be necessary to find a rock in Chorev (Mt. Sinai) to give forth water? Why not choose a rock right there in Rephidim?!

Nachmanides discusses this problem and, among other things, says that the water sprang from the rock on Chorev and turned into a stream which flowed to Rephidim from which the people drank.

Why does Rashi ignore this very pressing question?


Tangentially, we should note that this story teaches us a vital lesson — that even when the Jews find themselves in the wilderness of the galus they must know that the Holy One, Blessed be He, is there with them and cares for all their needs, as Rashi so eloquently describes it.

Yet, we must keep in mind that just as in the parable the father gave his son whatever he requested — only after he asked for it, so too, we must petition G‑d for all our needs — especially the most vital need to be redeemed from galus. Here we must vigorously cry out, “We’ve had enough of exile!” This is ever so obvious in the dark and deep diaspora: “For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and a gross darkness the kingdoms....” (Yeshayahu 60:2) When we cry out to G‑d, He will surely heed our supplications and give us that which is truly vital for our existence.

One approach to this goal is to eliminate one of the causes of the diaspora by increasing Ahavas Yisrael and Jewish unity. This is accomplished when we gather together at a farbrengen with a feeling of Ahavas Yisrael and unity.


(The explanation will follow consideration of several more difficulties.)

Having just tried G‑d by doubting that they could get water in the desert, and having been proven wrong — for G‑d did give them water — they certainly realized that in fact G‑d was in their midst. If so, how could it be that immediately after this Amalek attacked them? Moreover, how was it possible that when Moshe lowered his hands the battle went in Amalek’s favor?

With these questions in mind Rashi wrestles with another anomaly. Why does the Torah conclude the story of the lack of water with the critical quote: “Is G‑d with us or not?,” and then immediately go on to say that Amalek attacked? While it is true that in the course of events one story may have followed the other and it was also quite possible that after seeing G‑d’s Providence and regaining faith it could happen that the Jews again tried G‑d, after all they tried G‑d, ten times! (and as the five-year-old Chumash student knows, although his father has always cared for his needs he still wonders if next time he will), still, the Torah’s clear choice of verses, not incidents, bothers Rashi. Can it be that the arrival of Amalek had some connection with the doubts they had previously had?

For this reason Rashi says that this section follows the preceding “verse.” And the juxtaposition is specific, to tell us that there was a connection between the earlier doubts and the Amalekite attack. What was the nature of this association?

Their lack of faith was the cause and the Amalek attack was the effect. Knowing that G‑d was always close by to protect them their lapse into doubt was so abhorrent that it took on the features of a provocative attitude which severely tried G‑d. G‑d then brought Amalek upon them as a punishment. Even though they had reaffirmed their faith in the interim, after their thirst was satisfied, their earlier faithlessness could not go unpunished.

Now you might ask why all this speed for retribution? In many places we find G‑d to be long-suffering and patient with His rebellious children, why suddenly here do we see punishment so swift that it catches us by surprise and awakens more questionable thoughts?

In answer to this ponderation Rashi relates the parable of the ungrateful child who, while sitting on his fathers shoulders, asks, “Have you seen my father?” — to which the father reacts by immediately flinging the child off his back and allowing him to be bitten (to punish him and teach him a lesson).

For this reason Rashi also adds several details to the parable, to emphasize the point. The child could just as well have been walking beside his father — instead he is on the father’s shoulders — in such a position his question, “Where is my father?” is much more audacious and impudent.

Where do we find this analogy in the case at hand? In the Manna — which was “bread from heaven”! When the Jews asked for bread G‑d could have given them earthly bread, just as He gave them birds when they asked for meat. Instead, as a father who lifts up his beloved child and places him on his shoulders, He gave the Jewish people “G‑dly” bread. Similarly, when G‑d gave the Jewish people the clouds of glory to protect them, it was another sign of His loving paternal care.

Rashi further illustrates the extreme insolence of this child by describing how he asks a passerby where his father is. What nerve to ask where his father is at the time that he sits perched and protected on his father’s shoulders! How penetrating and intense is the hurt inflicted by such a child on his parent. We see this act also with regard to the Jewish people when they turned on Moshe: “The people began to quarrel with Moshe.” (17:2) All these points serve to emphasize Rashi’s point.

We may now approach the problem of where the stone really was. True, any stone in the desert could have done just as well. But G‑d wanted to show His love for the Jewish people — as in the parable — by taking them on his shoulders, so He wanted the water to emerge from a stone on Mt. Chorev — “the mountain of G‑d” — similar to the “bread from heaven.”

In distance, Chorev was not far from Rephidim, as we see the Torah mentions, they left Elim and came to Sin, between Elim and Sinai, and then they went from Sin to Rephidim on the way to Sinai.

Regarding the number of times the father granted the child his request (a 2nd and 3rd time) it is also appropriate that in our case G‑d showed the special love for the Jewish people in three cases, manna, clouds of glory, and water from the rock of Chorev. (The miracle of the sea took place in the seabed and as such does not qualify to be considered like the child on the shoulders.)

In this scenario it also makes sense how the Amalekites suddenly came to attack at a place which was not in proximity to their own territory. Being that the dog can only bite when the child is thrown off the father’s back — Amalek had to be around just at the time when G‑d was angered with the Jewish people because of their weak faith and evicted them from the protection of the clouds of glory.

For us there is a clear lesson — G‑d always affords us protection. We must be careful not to do anything which will cause G‑d to evict us.

How do we cleave to G‑d — by cleaving to His servant Moshe: “They believed in G‑d and in His servant Moshe.” (Shemos 14:31) “Whosoever trusts in the faithful servant is considered as if he trusts in the One who spoke and created the world.” (Mechilta)

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3. As we approach the beginning of the fourth cycle of Rambam study it seems necessary once again to speak of the importance of studying Mishneh Torah.

Maimonides, who was called the “Great Eagle” by many of the contemporary sages testifies in his introduction on the importance of studying his magnum opus:

On these grounds, I, Moshe the son of Maimon, the Sefardi, bestirred myself, and, relying on the help of G‑d, Blessed be He, ...with the view of putting together the results obtained from them in regard to what is forbidden or permitted, Tameh or Tahor, and the other rules of the Torah, all in plain language and terse style, so that thus the entire Oral Torah might become systematically known to all, ...so that all the rules shall be accessible to young and old...so that no other work should be needed for ascertaining any of the Laws of Israel, but that this work might serve as a compendium of the entire Oral Torah.... Hence I have entitled this work Mishneh Torah (Repetition of Torah), for the reason that a person who first reads the Written Torah and then this compilation, will know from it the whole of the Torah, without having occasion to consult any other book between them. (Rambam, intro.)

This statement is self-evident and it would be superfluous to add anything to the validity of the Rambam’s own words.

We may, however, add that although there are laws in which the final ruling does not follow the Rambam’s opinion, this does not diminish the importance of studying the Rambam. Just as one cannot argue that one should not study the Bible because it says “do not cook a kid in its mother’s milk” and he may misunderstand the rulings of the laws of Kashrus.

We should also note that regarding the final halachic rulings the Rambam himself hinted at the proper approach for all of us.

Why does Maimonides state here, “I, Moshe son of Maimon, the Sefardi” while in other placed he does not mention “the Sefardi.” What difference will this make for us? This is especially superfluous since by mentioning his name, Moshe son of Maimon, we already know that he is a Sefardi — the name Maimon was not found among Ashkenazi Jews!

Therefore, when the Rambam adds that he is a “Sefardi” he means to say that the different possibilities of halachic rulings should be taken into consideration in making a final ruling and that his rulings would be binding only for Sefardim, being that he is the final authority in the Eastern Lands. However, in places where the final authority was another Torah giant, the Rambam accedes that some of his rulings may not be binding.