Friday, March 02, 2012

Learn everything- in just one year!

I know you're busy. Who isn't? 
You have days when you don't have the time to eat lunch, right? You're probably not looking to take on new projects, especially big ones- like getting to know everything about Judaism in just one year. After all, studying Judaism is supposed to be a life-long endeavour with no shortcuts. You would probably quicker open a Nigerian lottery email than a  "learn the whole Torah in a year" proposition.
Well, it can be done. In fact, it has been done by tens of thousands of people annually thirty times now. That's right, there are people in the Jewish world who have gone through the whole Torah 30 times in the last 28 years. 
You probably imagine that I'm talking about big scholars who dedicate hours a day to study. Sure, some are. But many are ordinary professionals or business people with as much on their plate as you and I. None of them would claim to now be a leading Torah authority, but they have a solid general knowledge about every area of Jewish law. 
How did they do it? A step at a time.
In 1984, the Rebbe launched a maverick Torah-study programme that would revolutionize the Jewish world in two ways: 1) This project would allow anyone to become familiar with every aspect of Jewish life. 2) It would unite the whole Jewish world by having thousands of people globally study the same information each day. 
Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (the Rambam or Maimonides) was the first Torah scholar to collate all of Jewish law into an indexed encyclopedia of Judaism. Unlike the Code of Jewish Law, he included laws that are not practiced today when we have no Temple or king in Jerusalem. 
Back in '84, the Rebbe split the fourteen volumes of Rambam into daily sections. Whoever would follow the programme (studying three chapters a day) would complete all fourteen volumes (the most comprehensive, yet concise work on Jewish law) within just under a year. His or her general Jewish knowledge would have grown exponentially. 
You may not feel ready to study three chapters a day, but the Rebbe also included an option of studying a single chapter or even just a handful of mitzvos from the Rambam's "Book of Mitzvos" each day. Now, the "Book of Mitzvos" option really does not take very long. It requires five minutes or less of commitment each day. What it does for you is it gives you an overview of everything Judaism is about. 
Just imagine: Five minutes of reading a day and you no longer feel ignorant when the rabbi discusses shemittah oryibum, and you know what to respond to your work-colleague who asks if Jews are allowed to charge interest or own statues or neuter their pets. 
The Rebbe's vision for fighting Jewish ignorance is about to launch it's 31st cycle tomorrow. Why not take part? You could get the info emailed to you daily or you could read it online. If you prefer the look and feel of a book, subscribe to the weekly Chayenu magazine that carries the daily Rambam and other interesting Jewish information. However you do it, take a step to educate yourself further this year. 

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