Now with the the daily cycle of Rambam completing the Book of Ahavah, I thought that I share some observations on studying Rambam in the context of a daily schedule. I have been pleasantly surprised since starting this seder several months ago. I have always thought that studying Rambam is not for a talmid chacham, and what, after all, would a scholar gain from reading what is mostly dry halachos. Isn't it better to study gemara? Well,it is not dry at all and, yes, it is surely worth it!
I find that learning Rambam separates and organizes subdomains of halachic knowledge in my mind. What I mean by that is that the study of Gemara can suffer from the inability of seeing the forest for the trees. In other words, the focus becomes on specific laws and their are subtleties but one been loses the perspective of how they combine into a unified structure. Studying Rambam allows one to see the overall structure. In general, it is an excellent review that enables one to fill in blanks in knowledge and understanding that remain after gemara study.
For example, one can study Gittin a number of times but not realize that there are 10 things that pasul a get. Rambam lays it out for you9Gerushim Ch. 1). Similarly he will enumerate 24 sins that preclude repentance (Teshuva Ch.4) and tell you 4 things that prevent prayer(Tefila Ch.4) and eight things that do not prevent it, but should ad initio be present(Ch.5). He not only enumerates, he tells you in which circumstances a halacha applies and when it does not; for example, what you say on a weekday and what you say on Yom tov, Chol Hamoed, Rosh Chodesh etc. There is a great deal of systematization and rearrangement that enables one with some knowledge of the relevant sugyos to gain an overall appreciation of the order and structure that underlies them.
It can serve as a quick review of where which sugyos can be found. For someone who is generally familiar with Shas, breifly glancing at the Kesef Mishan and noting the source, can be very helpful and gain a lot with a minimum expenditure of effort.
Occasionally, about once per chapter, one who reads daily Rambam comes across a halacha that he never knew. It may have been overlooked during gemara study, come from a diyuk that one never made himself, or derive from a tosefta or an yerushalmi that one had never seen. This is thrilling for a talmid chacham.
I aso find it to be a good review of the many disputes between Rambam and Raavad that were semi-forgotten, or at least, receded into vague recollection since my yeshiva days. Refering to Kesef Mishna sometimes brings back a reacquintance with other Rishonim about whose views one may have heard a shiur years and decades before but then forgot.
Finally, careful reading of the language itself beings about an occasional flash of insight. Rambam is very conceptual. Briskers according to their types always read Rambam as a comentator on the sugya and investing a few minutes of thought here and there as one reads him can produce worthwile insight.
In short, it is a delightful seder to pursue.