Mishneh B’rurah / Shulchan Arukh

Categories: Classes


In the 1500s, Rav Yosef Karo integrated the vast body of Judaic learning, including the Written Law (the Torah, or Chumash, we know from shul readings on Shabbat) and the Oral Law (including but not limited to the teachings of the Talmud, both Mishneh and Gemara, whose sources we trace to Moshe Rabbeinu at Mount Sinai) into the Code of Jewish Law (SHULCHAN ARUKH). Rav Karo (also known by Sephardim as “Maran” and by Ashkenazim as “The M’chaber”) compiled his master work in four distinct volumes: (1) Orach Chaim — the laws of everyday living, including general comportment, prayers, blessings, Shabbat and holidays; (2) Even Ha-Ezer — laws pertaining to men and women; (3) Choshen Mishpat — civil laws including those pertaining to financial rights, business ethics, and the sorts of issues that arise before courts of law; and (4) Yoreh De’ah — esoteric laws that occupy rabbinic learning and concern but that tend to be less central to the study topics preferred by laymen focusing on their everyday lives. Rav Karo’s work was augmented by annotations supplied by Rav Moshe Isserles (the “Rema”), a contemporary mid-1500s rabbinic scholar based in Krakow, Poland, who supplemented the main text of SHULCHAN ARUKH with additional insight and documentation where Ashkenazic practice or custom differs from that of Sephardim.

Five hundred years later, in the late 19th century, the sainted Chofetz Chaim (Rav Yisrael Meir Kagan zt”l), based in Lithuania, authored the MISHNEH BERURAH, a definitive commentary and analysis of the SHULCHAN ARUKH, that has become a primary source for Ashkenazic Judaic practice to this very day. It is this extraordinary work, the MISHNEH BERURAH, that we study to learn the practical everyday way to live a meaningful and fulfilling Jewish life.

For our class, we use and study the actual primary-source text. We use an edition that prints the Hebrew in classic Hebrew lettering (not “Rashi script”) and with full Hebraic vocalization (containing the “dots” or vowels, supplied in the text). However, even if you do not understand Hebrew — indeed, even if you cannot follow the reading of Hebrew letters — the class still is riveting because more than 90 percent of all class sessions are in English.

Shabbat Afternoons During PDT — Class Begins One Hour Before Mincha

Taught by Rav Fischer