Chabad of Ellicott City Celebrates Maimonides’ Teachings With Dedicated Class


On April 22, Chabad houses around the world will mark the end of a daily study cycle of the scholar Maimonides’ seminal work, “Mishneh Torah.” The date this year is also a “triple celebration” — where the studies of those who read one chapter a day for three years, those who read three chapters a day for a single year and those who study Maimonides’ “Sefer HaMitzvot” over the course of a year all finish their studying.

Rabbi Yanky Baron
Rabbi Yanky Baron (Courtesy of Chabad of Ellicott City)

Also known as Rambam — an abbreviation of Rabbi Moishe ben Maimon, his given name — Maimonides was a Sephardic philosopher and one of the most important Jewish figures during the Middle Ages. The Mishneh Torah is considered by many to be his magnum opus, and it expands upon Jewish law, dictating different parts of daily life and religious rituals.

This is the 42nd year of the Rambam study program, which was started in 1984 by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, more commonly known as simply the Rebbe. Events across the world are set to honor the siyum, or conclusion, and the end of the period of study.

For their part, Chabad of Ellicott City will be starting a class focusing on Maimonides’ works for next year’s study. While members of the Chabad of Ellicott City have been reading over the course of the year, this is the first time they will be engaging in collective study of the “Mishneh Torah.”

“I wanted to make an initiative that the committee members could join together as part of a club of sorts, to learn and process Maimonides’ teachings together as a group as opposed to separately,” said Rabbi Yanky Baron of Chabad of Ellicott City.

Due to the daily nature of reading the “Mishneh Torah,” the class is set to take place daily at the Chabad at 7 p.m. Similar to a book club, participants can meet up for a reading of the day’s text and discuss their interpretations of it and of how Maimonides’ teachings are still applicable to daily life even hundreds of years later.

Baron said that Maimonides is one of the most important Jewish leaders, likening his impact to that of Moses’.

“He was one of the greatest influences of his time and an outgoing leader,” he said. “He put Judaism out in the open, translating his works to Arabic so they would be available to the public and people all over the world. Maimonides made it his business to reach out to all groups of Jews with his great work.”

Despite its acclaim today, “Mishneh Torah” was controversial in its time. Maimonides’ decision to not cite his sources caused many to accuse him of dishonesty. Its accessibility and inclusion of different aspects of Jewish scholarship, while highly valued now, was criticized at the time, with many early critics fearing that it would render the Talmud irrelevant in the public eye.

That inclusivity is one of its most praised qualities now. Baron noted that he’s been told by many others studying the “Mishneh Torah” that they feel satisfied reading something that grants them an understanding of the entire Torah.

“It’s a good addition to their in-depth learning of the Talmud and other works,” he said. “Holistically, having a steady daily session of learning about their heritage and the Torah has brought them spiritual and physical benefit in their work and family lives.”

He said that these classes are open to all who are interested in learning about Maimonides and his works and in hearing differing opinions about his writings on Jewish law.

“People especially love Rambam because it offers a lot of material for discussion and debate,” Baron said. “[Maimonides] is still highly regarded today because he was a brilliant philosopher. He was a scientist, a physician and an influencer.”

Never miss a story.
Sign up for our newsletter.
Email Address


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here