Eight months after he suffered a stroke, scholar, teacher, philosopher, social critic, and spiritual mentor Rabbi Adin Even-Yisrael Steinsaltz arrived in Tekoa last Thursday to celebrate the sium (completion of learning) of Maimonides’ monumental halachic work Mishneh Torah. Rabbi Steinsaltz had a big smile on his face, and walked without assistance, Srugim reported.
The event opened with a festive meal accompanied by music played by the yeshiva students. When Rabbi Steinsaltz arrived, he was received with great fanfare and dancing.
The yeshiva dean, Rabbi Michal Falk, congratulated Rabbi Steinsaltz on the fact that he was privileged to see the fruits of his students.
Rabbi David Fialkoff, editor of Steinsaltz’s edition of Maimonides’ work, told the guests that the project’s first edition has been printed in tens of thousands of copies, helping to make it accessible to broad audiences, from high school students to Torah scholars.
The team of the project’s writers led study groups on various subjects related to their work in the Mishneh Torah, such as the Halachic Status of corporations; and the influence of Arabic on the Mishneh Torah. The event ended with a farbrengen (joyous gathering) of the Yeshiva rabbis, the writers’ team, students, graduates and guests.
Steinsaltz’s popular editions of the Talmud in Hebrew and English have opened up Talmud study to thousands of people outside the walls of the traditional yeshiva, including women and gentiles. When he was criticized about the boundless access his work provides, Rabbi Steinsaltz said: “I never thought that spreading ignorance has any advantage, except for those who are in a position of power and want to deprive others of their rights and spread ignorance in order to keep them under foot.”