MAIMONIDES MAP PROJECT

Conceived and created by cartographer Pinchas Bensusan, these works offer a unique visual insight into the breadth and depth of Maimonides' Mishneh Torah. 

Introduction: Maimonides & Mishneh Torah

The Rambam, Rabbi Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) was a Talmudist, philosopher, doctor and rabbi born in Spain who flourished in Egypt.

Among his many works was the Yad Hachazakah, or Mishneh Torah, translating as 'Repetition of Torah'. Mishneh Torah is a 14-volume compendium of the totality of Jewish law, compiled from Torah, Talmud, Midrash and the other teachings of the rabbis who preceded him. 

Each of the 14 volumes deals with and providing referenced rulings on a distinct area of life and and the experience of living as a Jew, and as a non-Jew. From philosophical questions relating to knowledge and love of G-d in 'Hamadah' and 'Ahavah' to the practicals of commercial, contract and criminal law in 'Kinyan' and 'Mishpatim'.

Mishneh Torah was a groundbreaking initiative in Jewish scholarship and law. It was precursor to the first 'Shulchan Aruch', the Tur, authored by Jacob ben Asher in the 1300s. To this day, Mishneh Torah is referred to by Jewish legal scholars.

Moses Maimonides
Legacy in Jewish law and daily living

In 1984, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, instituted a daily study cycle, whereby the entire work (often simply referred to as “Rambam”) is completed on a regular basis.

Those capable follow a schedule of three chapters per day, which completes the Mishneh Torah in slightly less than one year.  There are 1000 chapters in Mishneh Torah.

 

For those who find this too demanding, the Rebbe suggested a parallel track at a more modest pace of one chapter daily, which takes nearly three years. 

 

The Rebbe instituted a third track. Paralleling the three-chapter-per-day regimen by learning daily about the same commandments being studied there in detail, this one explores Maimonides’ Sefer Hamitzvot, Book of the Commandments,  concluding all 613 mitzvot each year.  Many women and girls follow this study schedule.   

Hebrew texts, English translations, audio classes, video lectures and more are all available on the Chabad.org Daily Study page

Lubavitcher Rebbe
The Maimonides Map Project

In the Maimonides Map Project, Pinchos Bensusan, a cartographer living in London, presents a unique perspective on the Rambam’s Mishneh Torah, and has created a visual subject guide to this great work. 

Being inspired by the structure and inherent organisation of Torah Law revealed by the Rambam in this great work, in which subjects are presented in related groups and sets, he has attempted to organise these in a graphic and spatial way using a map as a metaphor for the structure.  

There are three overlays or scales in which the map is presented.

The first is simply the fourteen books of Mishneh Torah.  The relative size of each book on the map corresponds to the number of chapters in Mishneh Torah. The 14 Books of Mishneh Torah comprise 83 topics of Law and 1000 chapters.  

The second layer of detail of the map shows within the outline of the 14 books the boundaries of the 83 topics of Law. 

 

The third layer of detail shows individual chapters with a descriptive name indicating the content or subject matter of the chapter. At this scale there is a more detailed and elaborate expansion of the subjects contained within the chapters. There is also at this scale, a key or legend explaining the map’s conventional symbols. The main Highways, for example, show the navigational connections throughout each chapter. The secondary roads show expanded detail of the subject matter. Other symbols indicate features of what one encounters in the chapter: laws from the Torah, rabbinic enactments, and so on. This third level is a work in progress, and will eventually cover each of the thousand chapters of Mishneh Torah. 

Pinchas Bensusan

MAPS

Map 1: THE FOURTEEN BOOKS OF THE RAMBAM'S MISHNEH TORAH

 

With a landscape shaped as a crown, representing the glory of the Torah, this map shows the relative sizes of each of the fourteen books of Mishneh Torah. Click on the map to download a high resolution PDF, or click here.

OVERVIEW BOOKS.png
Map 2. EIGHTY THREE SECTIONS OF LAW

In Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, each book is divided into several sub-sections of law. The map below, shows the sizes of the sub-sections relative to each other and to the books in which they are contained. Click on the map to download a high resolution PDF, or click here.

OVERVIEW LAWS.png
LAWS OF CHALITZA CH 1.png
Map 3. CHAPTER BY CHAPTER: YIBUM & CHALITZAH

This map zooms into the first chapter of the laws of 'Yibum & Chalitzah' in the Mishneh Torah.

The key or legend explains the map’s conventional symbols. The main Highways, for example, show the navigational connections throughout each chapter. The secondary roads show expanded detail of the subject matter. Other symbols indicate features of what one encounters in the chapter: laws from the Torah, rabbinic enactments, and so on. 

Click on the map to download a high resolution PDF, or click here. 

Map 4. CHAPTER BY CHAPTER: SHABBAT

This map zooms into Chapter 30 of the laws of 'Shabbat' in the Mishneh Torah.

The key or legend explains the map’s conventional symbols. The main Highways, for example, show the navigational connections throughout each chapter. The secondary roads show expanded detail of the subject matter. Other symbols indicate features of what one encounters in the chapter: laws from the Torah, rabbinic enactments, and so on. 

Click on the map to download a high resolution PDF, or click here.

LAWS OF SABBATH CH 30 (1).png