On Shabbos Beshallach, the 15th of Shvat, the Rebbe Shlita, turned his attention to the upcoming completion of the second study cycle of Mishneh Torah and urged the Jewish communities all over the world to organize appropriate celebrations in honor of the occasion.

In this sichah the Rebbe discusses in great detail the specifics of the planning, organization and publicity necessary for successful programs on a grand and glorious scale. Stressing the vital importance of careful and precise preparations, he expresses his hopes that the resultant functions would bring honor and glory to the memory of the Rambam and to Jewish communities everywhere.

An Auspicious Day Brings Good Resolutions

The Shabbos which follows Yud Shvat, the 10th of Shvat, brings completion and perfection to the important themes of that auspicious day, as the Torah says concerning every Shabbos: “Vayechulu — they were completed” (Bereishis 2:1). Today is also Chamishah Asar BeShevat, the 15th of Shvat, which enhances the concept of completion, since on the 15th of every month “The moon...reaches its fullness” (Shmos Rabbah 15:26).

With this in mind, it is appropriate at this time to accept upon ourselves the firm resolution that will increase our efforts and carry out all the directives and teachings of the Previous Rebbe; to spread Torah and Yiddishkeit and to disseminate the fountains of Chassidus to the “outside.”

Certainly, the centerpiece of the previous Rebbe’s teachings concerned daily Torah study. It is therefore a propitious time to increase the number of study groups, classes and lectures, and especially the public study of Rambam’s magnum opus, Mishneh Torah.

Jews all over the world have accepted the custom to study three chapters of Mishneh Torah daily in order to complete the entire opus in one year. In several weeks time (26 Adar I) we will reach the conclusion of the second study cycle of the Rambam; it therefore behooves us, here and now, to speak of the “Siyum (completion) celebrations,” and to plan the necessary preparations for that event.

Completion Deserves Celebration

Upon the completion of Torah (or even one tractate of Talmud) it is customary to make a celebration. It is certainly appropriate to make a grand celebration when the study of the Rambam is completed, for Mishneh Torah gathers together and encompasses all of the Oral Law.

Following the dictum of Mishlei: “In the multitude of people is the king’s glory” (14:28), the appropriate celebrations should be organized in a way that they will be attended by great multitudes of people. In the case of the Rambam this verse has special meaning, for we find that many commentaries on the Rambam used the term “melech” — king — in the titles of their books, metaphorically referring to the Rambam with the term “king.”

Consequently, Siyum celebrations should be organized wherever possible, in a manner that will attract the largest possible audiences.

Publicity, Enthusiasm, Splendor

The ceremonies and functions should be properly publicized, with verve and enthusiasm (much more than last year), and should be carried out with the proper splendor, ceremony, beauty and glory. This will also add strength and encouragement for the initiation of the third cycle of study, which must begin as soon as the second cycle ends.

Proper preparation needs proper organization

To be successful, preparations must begin in proper time and in an orderly fashion. Therefore, as soon as possible, meetings should be held to plan all the necessary arrangements and people should be appointed to head the active committees. The planning committees should be headed by the rabbis and halachic authorities of every location, for they carry the responsibility for all religious matters in their cities or neighborhoods. Preference should be given to include those who have experience from the past. Other experts should likewise be consulted in order to ensure the success of all the activities.

This year, the final day of study will be on Friday, erev Shabbos Vayakhel, 26 days in Adar I. Naturally, Friday is not an appropriate day for grand celebrations, which makes Shabbos Vayakhel (Shabbos Shekalim), Mevarchim Adar II, the most likely day for the earliest Siyum.

However, since we want to organize a Siyum which will attract great numbers of people and which will be presented with beauty and grandeur, it would be advisable to postpone the celebration to the first or second day of Rosh Chodesh Adar II, depending on conditions. Halachah recognizes this contingency and specifically rules to postpone a siyum celebration for the sake of increasing the honor of Torah (See Shach, Yoreh Deah, 246:27). Therefore, in each city and locality the committees must use their best judgment in this matter.

Moral Encouragement — Spiritual and Physical

It is our custom, that when we speak of moral encouragement and inducement to accept worthwhile resolutions, we connect the spiritual with the physical, by presenting flasks of mashke to those who are involved in the activities. It should also be noted, that by initiating these discussions today there will also be a connection to the previous Rebbe, for it is the Shabbos after Yud Shvat and we are in the synagogue and study hall, in close proximity to the place where he studied and prayed, the last ten years of his life in this world.

At this time there are present several rabbis from Eretz Yisrael, who were involved in organizing the siyum celebrations last year in the Holy Land. They will be returning to Eretz Yisrael immediately after Shabbos and I will not have the opportunity, closer to the siyum, to present them with flasks of mashke. All other locations will receive theirs at a date closer to the siyum.

Less talk more action!

The essential thing is the deed. Necessary preparation should begin immediately, to see that everything needed will be done to make the celebrations grand and glorious. Hopefully, the organizers will work diligently, with appropriate enthusiasm, zealousness, and complete devotion to their work.

The Torah guarantees: “You have worked hard and you will find success,” this means that the success will be outstanding, beyond all expectations, more than commensurate with the efforts expended.

Rambam’s Yad HaChazakah will bring G‑d’s Mighty Hand!

May G‑d grant, that through all these activities on behalf of the study of the Yad HaChazakah of the Rambam, we will merit very soon the revelation of the,

Mighty hand...that Moshe displayed before the eyes of all of Israel. (Devarim 34:2)

With the true and complete redemption, through our righteous Mashiach, speedily and truly in our time.