This past Sunday, Jews worldwide celebrated a milestone siyum, marking the conclusion of the Fortieth Rambam study cycle. By learning three chapters per day, one completes the Rambam’s entire Mishneh Torah in slightly less than a year. If one learns one chapter a day, it takes around three years. Thousands of Jews throughout the world follow this daily study regimen in one of these two tracks, as instituted by the Rebbe.
The fortieth cycle of the three-chapter track began last 17th of Tammuz and concluded on this Gimmel Tammuz. Forty is a very significant number in Jewish thought. After forty years, says the Gemara (Avoda Zara 5b), “ko’i inish adata derabei,” a student can begin to understand the depth of his Rebbe’s teachings.
The Rebbe’s Rambam campaign is intended for every single Jew. The Rebbe designed it with three tracks to cater to each person: The flagship three chapters a day, and one chapter a day for those who would have trouble keeping up with three chapters. The Rebbe also asked that women and children follow along on their own track of studying every day from the Sefer HaMitzvos, in which the Rambam explains each one of the 613 mitzvos.
It is difficult for anyone to presume to know the reason behind the Rebbe’s campaign; it is not for us to decide why the Rebbe did what he did. But the Rebbe told us that all our actions should be dedicated toward one purpose: bringing Moshiach. Therefore, we can understand the Rambam campaign vis-à-vis Moshiach. It is to prepare the entire world for the coming of Moshiach through united Torah study. The Rebbe explained that when everyone studies the same Torah material on the same day, it achieves a wondrous unity that transcends the division between people, countries and continents.
The Rebbe also explained that by learning and completing the Rambam’s work, one discharges the obligation upon every Jew to study the entire Torah. The Rambam includes all the laws of Torah (even those not relevant during exile and therefore omitted from Shulchan Aruch): thus, learning the entire Rambam is considered learning the entire Torah.
On the Rambam’s tombstone there is an expression, “From Moshe to Moshe no one has arisen like Moshe.” Though we don’t know who wrote that inscription, it was accepted by Gedolei Yisroel and it has a special truth.
The obvious question is, what does it mean? Amongst all the generations in between – including the Nevi’im and Tana’im – were there none as great as Moshe until the Rambam? After all, the Rambam based his work on the works preceding him. Furthermore, it is not the Jewish way to compare Torah giants as to who was greater!
I once heard an explanation that this saying is not meant to measure greatness; rather, it concerns who wrote the entire Torah. The Gemara (Bava Basra 14b-15a) goes through the works of the Nevi’im and details who wrote each one. No one person throughout the generations wrote the entire Torah; each one wrote a portion – “his book.” Sometimes more, but not the entire Torah. The only one to write the entire Torah, ever since Moshe, was the Rambam.
Anyone who learns Rambam all the way through – and women and children who learn through the Sefer HaMitzvos – are actually completing the entire Torah! It’s a shleimus, a wholeness.
The Rebbe spoke about shleimus in three areas: Shleimus ha’am, the wholeness of the Jewish people, ensuring that a Jew is only one who was born to a Jewish mother or underwent halachic conversion; shleimus ha’aretz, the wholeness of the Land of Israel, not to give away or negotiate any part of the land; and shleimus haTorah, exemplified by learning Rambam.
Through the shleimus in all of these three areas, we will merit the Geulah ha’amitis v’hashleimah – the true and complete redemption – through Moshiach, speedily in our very own days.