Motti Wilhelm

To understand the Jewish vision study Rambam

Hours before being killed, Rabbi Elisha Lowenstern takes a break from fighting and studies the daily section of Maimonides' Mishneh Torah in Gaza.
Hours before being killed, Rabbi Elisha Lowenstern takes a break from fighting and studies the daily section of Maimonides' Mishneh Torah in Gaza.

To study Torah is to listen in on a 3,000-year multilingual, multinational, and multi-ethnic conversation within which Divine wisdom is transmitted and explored. It is exhilarating to jump between the centuries and continents as one explores the history of the Seder’s four questions or who the Torah would hold responsible for a broken bridge.

It can also be daunting and confusing. There are always various opinions and understandings, with new information being presented in difficult-to-follow methods, coupled with various languages and writing styles. 

In the 12th century, Maimonides recognized the challenges for every Jew to gain an understanding of Torah’s blueprint for creation and society, as he writes:

‘At this time, we have been beset by additional difficulties; everyone feels [financial] pressure, the wisdom of our Sages has become lost, and the comprehension of our men of understanding has become hidden… and only a select few comprehend… there is confusion with regard to the Talmud itself… for they require a breadth of knowledge, a spirit of wisdom, and much time.’

The vision Torah has for our lives and world must be clear and accessible for all, and thus Maimonides took action. In his words:

‘Therefore, I girded my loins – I, Moses, the son of Maimon, of Spain. I relied upon the Rock, blessed be He. I contemplated all these texts and sought to compose a work which would include the conclusions derived from all these texts… This will make it possible for all the laws to be revealed to both those of lesser stature and those of greater stature, regarding every single mitzvah, and also all the practices that were ordained by the Sages and the Prophets… To summarize: The intent of this text is that a person will not need another text at all with regard to any Jewish law.’

Maimonides’ work (known as Rambam) was groundbreaking and transformative. For the first time the principles of Jewish theology, governance, commerce and religious law were organized for any Jew to  access. A philanthropist can now study the laws of Tzedakah, a lawyer the laws of injuries and damages and a soldier the laws of warfare.

Rambam is so unique that near Maimonides’ grave is written the epithet “From Moshe (the giver of the Torah) until Moshe (Maimonides) there is none like Moshe.” Before his work, there was none like it, and in the millennia thereafter, there has been no other work like it.  His alone captures the entire vision of Torah for the individual and society.

As the world shakes and our people face both a challenging and awakening of awareness unseen in decades, a sure way we can truly understand who we are and what we stand for is through the study of Rambam.

Join the 3,000-year conversation; Maimonides will catch you up.


Forty years ago, the Rebbe called for a daily schedule in the study of Rambam, and this week the cycle began once again. Take advantage of the moment and the plethora of online resources, translations and podcasts, and embark on the study of Maimonides today. Give yourself the gift of a comprehensive understanding of Torah’s vision. More at


An exploration on how Maimonides Misneh Torah shapes everything we understand about Judaism. A short talk celebrating the completion of the 5784 Rambam 3 Chapter Cycle. Given by Rabbi Motti Wilhelm at the Portland Kollel Tuesday 16 Adar 2, March 26 2024.

About the Author
Rabbi Motti Wilhelm received his diploma of Talmudic Studies from the Rabbinical College of Australia & New Zealand in 2003 and was ordained as a rabbi by the Rabbinical College of America and Israel’s former chief Rabbi Mordecha Eliyahu in 2004. He was the editor of Kovetz Ohelei Torah, a respected Journal of Talmudic essays. He lectures on Talmudic Law, Medical Ethics and a wide array of Jewish subjects and has led services in the United States, Canada, Africa and Australia. His video blog Rabbi Motti's Minute is highly popular as are his weekly emails. Rabbi Wilhelm and his wife Mimi lead Chabad SW Portland as Shluchim of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
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