During the late 12th Century, Rav Moshe ben Maimon (Maimonides) — best known as “The Rambam” — compiled a definitive code of Jewish law, incorporating the teachings of the Written Torah and the Oral Law, as contained in the Talmud, together in one comprehensive, brilliantly codified, and orderly format. In doing so, he masterfully gleaned all the “bottom-line” rules and laws emanating from the long discussions and debates throughout the Talmud, then gathered them and reordered and re-shaped them from the format of the Talmud’s free-wheeling, stream-of-consciousness discussions into a logically structured, all-encompassing code of Jewish law that has become known, alternately, as the “Mishnah Torah” and as the “Yad HaChazakah” of the Rambam.
As we bring in the glory and peacefulness of Shabbat on Friday nights, between the end of our Kabbalat Shabbat services and just before we begin the evening’s concluding Maariv services, we take out some time and learn laws from the Mishnah Torah, learning inside the text itself, as Rav Fischer leads a brief but fascinating class in those teachings of The Rambam.
The scope and breadth of our Rambam class includes everything that we encounter in our contemporary Jewish lives — and more — ranging from the laws governing Shabbat and the respective holidays to the laws of business ethics to those of repentance and self-adjustment and self-growth. Thus, one series of sessions will cover the Laws of Kings of Israel: their authority, their temporal power, yet the laws that also harness and constrain that power by demanding of them service to G-d. And then, during other weeks, we can find ourselves studying the laws of Passover or Chanukah as codified by The Rambam. And then the laws of betrothal and marriage. And the laws of honesty in business, ethics and righteousness in commerce and professions, as we study the Jewish values he codified for us that balance our needs to earn our livings with our obligations always to serve G-d in holiness and honor — and never to forget that He is watching our every deed.
The text is easy to follow, in standard Hebrew letters with vocalization (the “dots” or vowels), and more than 90 percent of the brief class time is spoken in English, so it is simple to follow, easy to understand, and amazingly fascinating to grasp how fresh and contemporary this extraordinary Code has remained more than eight centuries after it first was compiled.
Friday Afternoons – during Kabbalat Shabbat at Bameh Madlikin
Taught by Rav Fischer