Moses ben Maimon, commonly known as Maimonides (/maɪˈmɒnɪdiːz/ my-MON-i-deez)[note 1] and also referred to by the acronym Rambam,[note 2] was a medieval Sephardic Jewish philosopher who became one of the most prolific and influential Torah scholars of the Middle Ages. In his time, he was also a preeminent astronomer and physician.[8][9][10][11] Born in Córdoba, Almoravid Empire (present-day Spain) on Passover Eve, 1135 or 1138,[12][13][14][15][16] he worked as a rabbi, physician, and philosopher in Morocco and Egypt. He died in Egypt on December 12, 1204, whence his body was taken to the lower Galilee and buried in Tiberias.[17][18]

During his lifetime, most Jews greeted Maimonides' writings on Jewish law and ethics with acclaim and gratitude, even as far away as Iraq and Yemen. Yet, while Maimonides rose to become the revered head of the Jewish community in Egypt, his writings also had vociferous critics, particularly in Spain. Nonetheless, he was posthumously acknowledged as among the foremost rabbinical decisors and philosophers in Jewish history, and his copious work comprises a cornerstone of Jewish scholarship. His fourteen-volume Mishneh Torah still carries significant canonical authority as a codification of Talmudic law. He is sometimes known as "ha Nesher ha Gadol" (the great eagle) in recognition of his outstanding status as a bona fide exponent of the Oral Torah.

Aside from being revered by Jewish historians, Maimonides also figures very prominently in the history of Islamic and Arab sciences and is mentioned extensively in studies. Influenced by Al-Farabi, Avicenna, and his contemporary Averroes, he in his turn influenced other prominent Arab and Muslim philosophers and scientists. He became a prominent philosopher and polymath in both the Jewish and Islamic worlds.

Moses ben Maimon
18th-century portrait of Maimonides
Born30 March[1] or 6 April[2] 1135
Possibly born 28 March or 4 April[3] 1138
Died12 December 1204 (aged 69)
EraMedieval philosophy
RegionJewish philosophy
SchoolJewish law, Jewish ethics
Main interests
Religious law
Firma de Maimonides


His full Hebrew name is Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (רבי משה בן מימון), whose acronym forms "Rambam" (רמב״ם). His full Arabic name is Abū ʿImrān Mūsā bin Maimūn bin ʿUbaidallāh al-Qurtabī (ابو عمران موسى بن ميمون بن عبيد الله القرطبي), or Mūsā bin Maymūn (موسى بن ميمون) for short. In Latin, the Hebrew ben (son of) becomes the Greek-style patronymic suffix -ides, forming "Moses Maimonides".


The dominion of the Almohad Caliphate at its greatest extent, c. 1200 CE

Early years

Maimonides was born in Córdoba during what some scholars consider to be the end of the golden age of Jewish culture in the Iberian Peninsula, after the first centuries of the Moorish rule. At an early age, he developed an interest in sciences and philosophy. He read those Greek philosophers accessible in Arabic translations, and was deeply immersed in the sciences and learning of Islamic culture.[19] Though the Gaonic tradition, especially in its North African version, formed the basis of his legal thought, some scholars have argued in the 21st century that Muslim law, including Almohad legal thought, also had a substantial influence.[20] Maimonides was not known as a supporter of mysticism, although a strong intellectual type of mysticism has been discerned in his philosophy.[21] He expressed disapproval of poetry, the best of which he declared to be false, since it was founded on pure invention. This sage, who was revered for his personality as well as for his writings, led a busy life, and wrote many of his works while travelling or in temporary accommodation.[22] Maimonides studied Torah under his father Maimon, who had in turn studied under Rabbi Joseph ibn Migash, a student of Isaac Alfasi.

Maimonides house in Fes
Maimonides' house in Fez, Morocco


A Berber dynasty, the Almohads, conquered Córdoba in 1148, and abolished dhimmi status (i.e., state protection, through payment of a tax, the jizya, of the life and possessions of non-Muslims) in some of their territories. The loss of this status left the Jewish and Christian communities with conversion to Islam, death, or exile.[22] Many Jews were forced to convert, but due to suspicion by the authorities of fake conversions, the new converts had to wear identifying clothing that set them apart and made them subject to public scrutiny.[23][24]

Maimonides's family, along with most other Jews, chose exile. Some say, though, that it is likely that Maimonides feigned a conversion to Islam before escaping.[25] This forced conversion was ruled legally invalid under Islamic law when brought up by a rival in Egypt.[26] For the next ten years, Maimonides moved about in southern Spain, eventually settling in Fez in Morocco. During this time, he composed his acclaimed commentary on the Mishnah, during the years 1166–1168.[27]

Following this sojourn in Morocco, together with two sons,[28] he sojourned in the Holy Land, before settling in Fustat, Egypt around 1168. While in Cairo, he studied in a yeshiva attached to a small synagogue (which now bears his name).[29] In the Holy Land, he prayed at the Temple Mount. He wrote that this day of visiting the Temple Mount was a day of holiness for him and his descendants.[30]

Maimonides shortly thereafter was instrumental in helping rescue Jews taken captive during the Christian King Amalric's siege of the Egyptian town of Bilbays. He sent five letters to the Jewish communities of Lower Egypt asking them to pool money together to pay the ransom. The money was collected and then given to two judges sent to Palestine to negotiate with the Crusaders. The captives were eventually released.[31]

Death of his brother

Wzwz Moses Maimonides
Monument in Córdoba

Following this triumph, the Maimonides family, hoping to increase their wealth, gave their savings to his brother, the youngest son David ben Maimon, a merchant. Maimonides directed his brother to procure goods only at the Sudanese port of ‘Aydhab. After a long arduous trip through the desert, however, David was unimpressed by the goods on offer there. Against his brother's wishes, David boarded a ship for India, since great wealth was to be found in the East.[32] Before he could reach his destination, David drowned at sea sometime between 1169 and 1177. The death of his brother caused Maimonides to become sick with grief.

In a letter (discovered later in the Cairo Geniza), he wrote:

The greatest misfortune that has befallen me during my entire life—worse than anything else—was the demise of the saint, may his memory be blessed, who drowned in the Indian sea, carrying much money belonging to me, to him, and to others, and left with me a little daughter and a widow. On the day I received that terrible news I fell ill and remained in bed for about a year, suffering from a sore boil, fever, and depression, and was almost given up. About eight years have passed, but I am still mourning and unable to accept consolation. And how should I console myself? He grew up on my knees, he was my brother, [and] he was my student.[33]


Around 1171, Maimonides was appointed the Nagid of the Egyptian Jewish community.[29] Arabist S.D. Goitein believes the leadership he displayed during the ransoming of the Crusader captives led to this appointment.[34] With the loss of the family funds tied up in David's business venture, Maimonides assumed the vocation of physician, for which he was to become famous. He had trained in medicine in both Córdoba and in Fez. Gaining widespread recognition, he was appointed court physician to the Grand Vizier Al Qadi al Fadil, then to Sultan Saladin, after whose death he remained a physician to the royal family.[35]

In his medical writings, Maimonides described many conditions, including asthma, diabetes, hepatitis, and pneumonia, and he emphasized moderation and a healthy lifestyle.[36] His treatises became influential for generations of physicians. He was knowledgeable about Greek and Arabic medicine, and followed the principles of humorism in the tradition of Galen. He did not blindly accept authority but used his own observation and experience.[36] Julia Bess Frank indicates that Maimonides in his medical writings sought to interpret works of authorities so that they could become acceptable.[35] Maimonides displayed in his interactions with patients attributes that today would be called intercultural awareness and respect for the patient's autonomy.[37] Although he frequently wrote of his longing for solitude in order to come closer to God and to extend his reflections – elements considered essential in his philosophy to the prophetic experience -he gave over most of his time to caring for others.[38] In a famous letter, Maimonides describes his daily routine: After visiting the Sultan's palace, he would arrive home exhausted and hungry, where "I would find the antechambers filled with gentiles and Jews … I would go to heal them, and write prescriptions for their illnesses … until the evening … and I would be extremely weak."[39] As he goes on to say in this letter, even on the Sabbath he would receive members of the community. It is remarkable that he managed to write extended treatises, including not only medical and other scientific studies but some of the most systematically thought-through and influential treatises on halakha (rabbinic law) and Jewish philosophy of the Middle Ages.[40] In 1173/4, Maimonides wrote his famous Iggeret Teman (Epistle to Yemen).[41] It has been suggested that his "incessant travail" undermined his own health and brought about his death at 69 (although this is a normal lifespan).[42]


Maimonides died on December 12, 1204 (20th of Tevet 4965) in Fustat. It is widely believed that he was briefly buried in the study room (beit hamidrash) of the synagogue courtyard, and that, soon after, in accordance with his wishes, his remains were exhumed and taken to Tiberias, where he was re-interred.[43] The Tomb of Maimonides on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel marks his grave. This location for his final resting-place has been debated, for in the Jewish Cairene community, a tradition holds that he remained buried in Egypt.[44]

Maimonides and his wife, the daughter of Mishael ben Yeshayahu Halevi, had one child who survived into adulthood,[45] Avraham, who became recognized as a great scholar. He succeeded Maimonides as Nagid and as court physician at the age of eighteen. Throughout his career, he defended his father's writings against all critics. The office of Nagid was held by the Maimonides family for four successive generations until the end of the 14th century.

Maimonides is widely respected in Spain, and a statue of him was erected near the Córdoba Synagogue.

Maimonides is sometimes said to be a descendant of King David, although he never made such a claim.[46][47]

13 principles of faith

In his commentary on the Mishnah (tractate Sanhedrin, chapter 10), Maimonides formulates his "13 principles of faith". They summarized what he viewed as the required beliefs of Judaism:

  1. The existence of God.
  2. God's unity and indivisibility into elements.
  3. God's spirituality and incorporeality.
  4. God's eternity.
  5. God alone should be the object of worship.
  6. Revelation through God's prophets.
  7. The preeminence of Moses among the prophets.
  8. That the entire Torah (both the Written and Oral law) are of Divine origin and were dictated to Moses by God on Mt. Sinai.
  9. The Torah given by Moses is permanent and will not be replaced or changed.
  10. God's awareness of all human actions and thoughts.
  11. Reward of good and punishment of evil.
  12. The coming of the Jewish Messiah.
  13. The resurrection of the dead.

Maimonides compiled the principles from various Talmudic sources. These principles were controversial when first proposed, evoking criticism by Rabbis Hasdai Crescas and Joseph Albo, and were effectively ignored by much of the Jewish community for the next few centuries.[48] However, these principles have become widely held and are considered to be the cardinal principals of faith for Orthodox Jews.[49][50] Two poetic restatements of these principles (Ani Ma'amin and Yigdal) eventually became canonized in many editions of the "Siddur" (Jewish prayer book).

Legal works

With Mishneh Torah, Maimonides composed a code of Jewish law with the widest-possible scope and depth. The work gathers all the binding laws from the Talmud, and incorporates the positions of the Geonim (post-Talmudic early Medieval scholars, mainly from Mesopotamia).

Later codes of Jewish law, e.g. Arba'ah Turim by Rabbi Jacob ben Asher and Shulchan Aruch by Rabbi Yosef Karo, draw heavily on Mishneh Torah: both often quote whole sections verbatim. However, it met initially with much opposition.[51] There were two main reasons for this opposition. First, Maimonides had refrained from adding references to his work for the sake of brevity; second, in the introduction, he gave the impression of wanting to "cut out" study of the Talmud,[52] to arrive at a conclusion in Jewish law, although Maimonides later wrote that this was not his intent. His most forceful opponents were the rabbis of Provence (Southern France), and a running critique by Rabbi Abraham ben David (Raavad III) is printed in virtually all editions of Mishneh Torah. It was still recognized as a monumental contribution to the systemized writing of halakha. Throughout the centuries, it has been widely studied and its halakhic decisions have weighed heavily in later rulings.

In response to those who would attempt to force followers of Maimonides and his Mishneh Torah to abide by the rulings of his own Shulchan Aruch or other later works, Rabbi Yosef Karo wrote: "Who would dare force communities who follow the Rambam to follow any other decisor, early or late? … The Rambam is the greatest of the decisors, and all the communities of the Land of Israel and the Arabistan and the Maghreb practice according to his word, and accepted him as their rabbi."[53]

An oft-cited legal maxim from his pen is: "It is better and more satisfactory to acquit a thousand guilty persons than to put a single innocent one to death." He argued that executing a defendant on anything less than absolute certainty would lead to a slippery slope of decreasing burdens of proof, until we would be convicting merely according to the judge's caprice.[54]

Scholars specializing in the study of the history and subculture of Judaism in premodern China (Sino-Judaica) have noted surprising similarities between this work and the liturgy of the Kaifeng Jews, descendants of Persian merchants who settled in the Middle Kingdom during the early Song dynasty.[55] Beyond scriptural similarities, Michael Pollak comments the Jews' Pentateuch was divided into 53 sections according to the Persian style.[56] He also points out:

There is no proof, to be sure, that Kaifeng Jewry ever had direct access to the works of "the Great Eagle," but it would have had ample time and opportunity to acquire or become acquainted with them well before its reservoir of Jewish learning began to run out. Nor do the Maimonidean leanings of the kehillah contradict the historical evidence that has the Jews arriving in Kaifeng no later than 1126, the year in which the Sung fled the city—and nine years before Maimonides was born. In 1163, when the kehillah built the first of its synagogues, Maimonides was only twenty-eight years old, so that it is highly unlikely that even his earliest authoritative teachings could by then have reached China.[57]

Tzedakah (charity)

One of the most widely referred to sections of the Mishneh Torah is the section dealing with tzedakah. In Hilkhot Matanot Aniyim (Laws about Giving to Poor People), Chapter 10:7–14, Maimonides lists his famous Eight Levels of Giving (where the first level is most preferable, and the eighth the least):[58]

  1. Giving an interest-free loan to a person in need; forming a partnership with a person in need; giving a grant to a person in need; finding a job for a person in need; so long as that loan, grant, partnership, or job results in the person no longer living by relying upon others.
  2. Giving tzedakah anonymously to an unknown recipient via a person (or public fund) which is trustworthy, wise, and can perform acts of tzedakah with your money in a most impeccable fashion.
  3. Giving tzedakah anonymously to a known recipient.
  4. Giving tzedakah publicly to an unknown recipient.
  5. Giving tzedakah before being asked.
  6. Giving adequately after being asked.
  7. Giving willingly, but inadequately.
  8. Giving "in sadness" (giving out of pity): It is thought that Maimonides was referring to giving because of the sad feelings one might have in seeing people in need (as opposed to giving because it is a religious obligation). Other translations say "Giving unwillingly."


Measure of men
Depiction of Maimonides teaching students about the 'measure of man' in an illuminated manuscript.

Through the Guide for the Perplexed (which was initially written in Arabic as Dalālat al-ḥāʾirīn) and the philosophical introductions to sections of his commentaries on the Mishna, Maimonides exerted an important influence on the Scholastic philosophers, especially on Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas and Duns Scotus. He was a Jewish Scholastic. Educated more by reading the works of Arab Muslim philosophers than by personal contact with Arabian teachers, he acquired an intimate acquaintance not only with Arab Muslim philosophy, but with the doctrines of Aristotle. Maimonides strove to reconcile Aristotelian philosophy and science with the teachings of the Torah.[59] In his Guide for the Perplexed, he often explains the function and purpose of the statutory provisions contained in the Torah against the backdrop of the historical conditions. Maimonides is said to have been influenced by Asaph ha-Jehoudi, who was the first Hebrew medical writer.


Maimonides equated the God of Abraham to what philosophers refer to as the Necessary Being. God is unique in the universe, and the Torah commands that one love and fear God (Deut 10:12) on account of that uniqueness. To Maimonides, this meant that one ought to contemplate God's works and to marvel at the order and wisdom that went into their creation. When one does this, one inevitably comes to love God and to sense how insignificant one is in comparison to God. This is the basis of the Torah.[60]

The principle that inspired his philosophical activity was identical to a fundamental tenet of scholasticism: there can be no contradiction between the truths which God has revealed and the findings of the human mind in science and philosophy. Maimonides primarily relied upon the science of Aristotle and the teachings of the Talmud, commonly finding basis in the former for the latter.[61]

Maimonides' admiration for the neo-Platonic commentators led him to doctrines which the later Scholastics did not accept. For instance, Maimonides was an adherent of "negative theology" (also known as "Apophatic theology".) In this theology, one attempts to describe God through negative attributes. For instance, one should not say that God exists in the usual sense of the term; it can be said that God is not non-existent. We should not say that "God is wise"; but we can say that "God is not ignorant," i.e., in some way, God has some properties of knowledge. We should not say that "God is One," but we can state that "there is no multiplicity in God's being." In brief, the attempt is to gain and express knowledge of God by describing what God is not, rather than by describing what God "is."[62]

Maimonides argued adamantly that God is not corporeal. This was central to his thinking about the sin of idolatry. Maimonides insisted that all of the anthropomorphic phrases pertaining to God in sacred texts are to be interpreted metaphorically.[62]

Character development

Maimonides taught about the developing one's moral character. Although his life predated the modern concept of a personality, Maimonides believed that each person has an innate disposition along an ethical and emotional spectrum. Although one's disposition is often determined by factors outside of one's control, human beings have free will to choose to behave in ways that build character.[63] He wrote, "One is obligated to conduct his affairs with others in a gentle and pleasing manner."[64] Maimonides advised those with anti-social character traits ought to identify those traits and then make a conscious effort to behave in the opposite way. For example, an arrogant person should practice humility.[65] If the circumstances of one's environment are such that it is impossible to behave ethically, one must move to a new location.[66]


He agrees with "the Philosopher" (Aristotle) in teaching that the use of logic is the "right" way of thinking. In order to build an inner understanding of how to know God, every human being must, by study, meditation and uncompromising strong will, attain the degree of complete logical, spiritual and physical perfection required in the prophetic state. Here he rejects previous ideas (especially portrayed by Rabbi Yehuda Halevi in "Hakuzari") that in order to become a prophet, God must intervene. Maimonides claims that any man or woman[67] has the potential to become a prophet (not just Jews) and that in fact it is the purpose of the human race.

The problem of evil

Maimonides wrote on theodicy (the philosophical attempt to reconcile the existence of a God with the existence of evil). He took the premise that an omnipotent and good God exists.[68][69][70][71] In his Guide for the Perplexed, Maimonides writes that all the evil that exists within human beings stems from their individual attributes, while all good comes from a universally shared humanity (Guide 3:8). He says that there are people who are guided by higher purpose, and there are those who are guided by physicality and must strive to find the higher purpose with which to guide their actions.

To justify the existence of evil, assuming God is both omnipotent and omnibenevolent, Maimonides postulates that one who created something by causing its opposite not to exist is not the same as creating something that exists; so evil is merely the absence of good. God did not create evil, rather God created good, and evil exists where good is absent (Guide 3:10). Therefore, all good is divine invention, and evil both is not and comes secondarily.

Maimonides contests the common view that evil outweighs good in the world. He says that if one were to examine existence only in terms of humanity, then that person may observe evil to dominate good, but if one looks at the whole of the universe, then he sees good is significantly more common than evil (Guide 3:12). Man, he reasons, is too insignificant a figure in God's myriad works to be their primary characterizing force, and so when people see mostly evil in their lives, they are not taking into account the extent of positive Creation outside of themselves.

Maimonides believes that there are three types of evil in the world: evil caused by nature, evil that people bring upon others, and evil man brings upon himself (Guide 3:12). The first type of evil Maimonides states is the rarest form, but arguably of the most necessary—the balance of life and death in both the human and animal worlds itself, he recognizes, is essential to God's plan. Maimonides writes that the second type of evil is relatively rare, and that humanity brings it upon itself. The third type of evil humans bring upon themselves and is the source of most of the ills of the world. These are the result of people falling victim to their physical desires. To prevent the majority of evil which stems from harm we do to ourselves, we must learn how to ignore our bodily urges.

Skepticism of astrology

Maimonides answered an inquiry concerning astrology, addressed to him from Marseille.[72] He responded that man should believe only what can be supported either by rational proof, by the evidence of the senses, or by trustworthy authority. He affirms that he had studied astrology, and that it does not deserve to be described as a science. He ridicules the concept that the fate of a man could be dependent upon the constellations; he argues that such a theory would rob life of purpose, and would make man a slave of destiny.[73]

True beliefs versus necessary beliefs

In Guide for the Perplexed Book III, Chapter 28,[74] Maimonides draws a distinction between "true beliefs," which were beliefs about God that produced intellectual perfection, and "necessary beliefs," which were conducive to improving social order. Maimonides places anthropomorphic personification statements about God in the latter class. He uses as an example the notion that God becomes "angry" with people who do wrong. In the view of Maimonides (taken from Avicenna), God does not become angry with people, as God has no human passions; but it is important for them to believe God does, so that they desist from doing wrong.


The World to Come

Maimonides distinguishes two kinds of intelligence in man, the one material in the sense of being dependent on, and influenced by, the body, and the other immaterial, that is, independent of the bodily organism. The latter is a direct emanation from the universal active intellect; this is his interpretation of the noûs poietikós of Aristotelian philosophy. It is acquired as the result of the efforts of the soul to attain a correct knowledge of the absolute, pure intelligence of God.

The knowledge of God is a form of knowledge which develops in us the immaterial intelligence, and thus confers on man an immaterial, spiritual nature. This confers on the soul that perfection in which human happiness consists, and endows the soul with immortality. One who has attained a correct knowledge of God has reached a condition of existence, which renders him immune from all the accidents of fortune, from all the allurements of sin, and from death itself. Man is in a position to work out his own salvation and his immortality.

Spinoza's doctrine of immortality was strikingly similar. But Spinoza teaches that the way to attain the knowledge which confers immortality is the progress from sense-knowledge through scientific knowledge to philosophical intuition of all things sub specie æternitatis, while Maimonides holds that the road to perfection and immortality is the path of duty as described in the Torah and the rabbinic understanding of the oral law.

The Messianic era

Perhaps one of Maimonides's most highly acclaimed and renowned writings is his treatise on the Messianic era, written originally in Judeo-Arabic and which he elaborates on in great detail in his Commentary on the Mishnah (Introduction to the 10th chapter of tractate Sanhedrin, also known as Pereḳ Ḥeleḳ). (Open window for text)


Religious Jews believed in immortality in a spiritual sense, and most believed that the future would include a messianic era and a resurrection of the dead. This is the subject of Jewish eschatology. Maimonides wrote much on this topic, but in most cases he wrote about the immortality of the soul for people of perfected intellect; his writings were usually not about the resurrection of dead bodies. Rabbis of his day were critical of this aspect of this thought, and there was controversy over his true views.[75]

Eventually, Maimonides felt pressured to write a treatise on the subject, known as "The Treatise on Resurrection." In it, he wrote that those who claimed that he believed the verses of the Hebrew Bible referring to the resurrection were only allegorical were spreading falsehoods. Maimonides asserts that belief in resurrection is a fundamental truth of Judaism about which there is no disagreement.[76]

While his position on the World to Come (non-corporeal eternal life as described above) may be seen as being in contradiction with his position on bodily resurrection, Maimonides resolved them with a then unique solution: Maimonides believed that the resurrection was not permanent or general. In his view, God never violates the laws of nature. Rather, divine interaction is by way of angels, whom Maimonides often regards to be metaphors for the laws of nature, the principles by which the physical universe operates, or Platonic eternal forms. [This is not always the case. In Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah Chaps. 2–4, Maimonides describes angels that are actually created beings.] Thus, if a unique event actually occurs, even if it is perceived as a miracle, it is not a violation of the world's order.[77]

In this view, any dead who are resurrected must eventually die again. In his discussion of the 13 principles of faith, the first five deal with knowledge of God, the next four deal with prophecy and the Torah, while the last four deal with reward, punishment and the ultimate redemption. In this discussion Maimonides says nothing of a universal resurrection. All he says it is that whatever resurrection does take place, it will occur at an indeterminate time before the world to come, which he repeatedly states will be purely spiritual.

Maimonides and Kabbalah

In Guide for the Perplexed, Maimonides declares his intention to conceal from the average reader his explanations of Sod [78] esoteric meanings of Torah. The nature of these "secrets" is debated. Religious Jewish rationalists, and the mainstream academic view, read Maimonides' Aristotelianism as a mutually-exclusive alternative metaphysics to Kabbalah.[79] Some academics hold that Maimonides' project fought against the Proto-Kabbalah of his time.[80] However, Kabbalists and their heirs read Maimonides according to Kabbalah or as an actual covert subscriber to Kabbalah.[81] According to this, he employed rationalism to defend Judaism rather than limit inquiry of Sod only to rationalism. His rationalism, if not taken as an opposition,[82] also assisted the Kabbalists, purifying their transmitted teaching from mistaken corporeal interpretations that could have been made from earlier Jewish mysticism,[83] though Kabbalists held that their theosophy alone allowed human access to Divine mysteries.[84]

The Oath of Maimonides

The Oath of Maimonides is a document about the medical calling and recited as a substitute for the Oath of Hippocrates. The Oath is not to be confused with a more lengthy Prayer of Maimonides. These documents may not have been written by Maimonides, but later.[35] The Prayer appeared first in print in 1793 and has been attributed to Marcus Herz, a German physician, pupil of Immanuel Kant.[85]


Guide for the Perplexed by Maimonides
The title page of The Guide for the Perplexed

Maimonides' Mishneh Torah is considered by Jews even today as one of the chief authoritative codifications of Jewish law and ethics. It is exceptional for its logical construction, concise and clear expression and extraordinary learning, so that it became a standard against which other later codifications were often measured.[86] It is still closely studied in rabbinic yeshivot (academies). A popular medieval saying that also served as his epitaph states, From Mosheh (of the Torah) to Mosheh (Maimonides) there was none like Mosheh. It chiefly referred to his rabbinic writings.

But Maimonides was also one of the most influential figures in medieval Jewish philosophy. His brilliant adaptation of Aristotelian thought to Biblical faith deeply impressed later Jewish thinkers, and had an unexpected immediate historical impact.[87] Some more acculturated Jews in the century that followed his death, particularly in Spain, sought to apply Maimonides's Aristotelianism in ways that undercut traditionalist belief and observance, giving rise to an intellectual controversy in Spanish and southern French Jewish circles.[88] The intensity of debate spurred Catholic Church interventions against "heresy" and a general confiscation of rabbinic texts. In reaction, the more radical interpretations of Maimonides were defeated. At least amongst Ashkenazi Jews, there was a tendency to ignore his specifically philosophical writings and to stress instead the rabbinic and halakhic writings. These writings often included considerable philosophical chapters or discussions in support of halakhic observance; David Hartman observes that Maimonides clearly expressed "the traditional support for a philosophical understanding of God both in the Aggadah of Talmud and in the behavior of the hasid [the pious Jew]."[89] Maimonidean thought continues to influence traditionally observant Jews.[90][91]

The most rigorous medieval critique of Maimonides is Hasdai Crescas's Or Adonai. Crescas bucked the eclectic trend, by demolishing the certainty of the Aristotelian world-view, not only in religious matters but also in the most basic areas of medieval science (such as physics and geometry). Crescas's critique provoked a number of 15th-century scholars to write defenses of Maimonides. A partial translation of Crescas was produced by Harry Austryn Wolfson of Harvard University in 1929.

Because of his path-finding synthesis of Aristotle and Biblical faith, Maimonides had a fundamental influence on the great Christian theologian Saint Thomas Aquinas.[92] Aquinas refers specifically to Maimonides in several of his works, including the Commentary on the Sentences.

Maimonides's combined abilities in the fields of theology, philosophy and medicine make his work attractive today as a source during discussions of evolving norms in these fields, particularly medicine. An example is the modern citation of his method of determining death of the body in the controversy regarding declaration of death to permit organ donation for transplantation.[93]

Maimonides and the Modernists

Maimonides remains one of the most widely debated Jewish thinkers among modern scholars. He has been adopted as a symbol and an intellectual hero by almost all major movements in modern Judaism, and has proven important to philosophers such as Leo Strauss; and his views on the importance of humility have been taken up by modern humanist philosophers.

In academia, particularly within the area of Jewish Studies, the teaching of Maimonides has been dominated by traditional scholars, generally Orthodox, who place a very strong emphasis on Maimonides as a rationalist; one result is that certain sides of Maimonides's thought, including his opposition to anthropocentrism, have been obviated. There are movements in some postmodern circles to claim Maimonides for other purposes, as within the discourse of ecotheology.[94] Maimonides's reconciliation of the philosophical and the traditional has given his legacy an extremely diverse and dynamic quality.

Tributes and memorials

Maimonides, at Rambam Medical Center
Plaque of Maimonides at Rambam Medical Center, Haifa
Manuscript page by Maimonides Arabic in Hebrew letters
Manuscript page by Maimonides. Judeo-Arabic language in Hebrew letters.

Maimonides has been memorialized in numerous ways. For example, one of the Learning Communities at the Tufts University School of Medicine bears his name. There is also Maimonides School in Brookline, Massachusetts, Maimonides Academy School in Los Angeles, California, the Brauser Maimonides Academy in Hollywood, Florida,[95] and Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York. In 2004, conferences were held at Yale, Florida International University, Penn State, and the Rambam hospital in Haifa, Israel, which is named after him. To commemorate the 800th anniversary of his death, Harvard University issued a memorial volume.[96] In 1953, the Israel Postal Authority issued a postage stamp of Maimonides, pictured. In March 2008, during the Euromed Conference of Ministers of Tourism, The Tourism Ministries of Israel, Morocco and Spain agreed to work together on a joint project that will trace the footsteps of the Rambam and thus boost religious tourism in the cities of Córdoba, Fes and Tiberias.[97]

Works and bibliography

Judaic and philosophical works

Maimonides composed works of Jewish scholarship, rabbinic law, philosophy, and medical texts. Most of Maimonides's works were written in Judeo-Arabic. However, the Mishneh Torah was written in Hebrew. His Jewish texts were:

  • Commentary on the Mishna (Hebrew Pirush Hamishnayot, Arabic Kitab al-Siraj), written in Judeo-Arabic. This was the first full commentary ever written on the entire Mishnah, and it enjoyed great popularity both in its Arabic original and its medieval Hebrew translation. The commentary includes three philosophical introductions which were also highly influential:
    • The Introduction to the Mishnah deals with the nature of the oral law, the distinction between the prophet and the sage, and the organizational structure of the Mishnah.
    • The Introduction to Mishnah Sanhedrin, chapter ten (Perek Helek), is an eschatological essay that concludes with Maimonides's famous creed ("the thirteen principles of faith").
    • The Introduction to Tractate Avot (popularly called The Eight Chapters) is an ethical treatise.
  • Sefer Hamitzvot (trans. The Book of Commandments). In this work, Maimonides lists all the 613 mitzvot traditionally contained in the Torah (Pentateuch). He describes fourteen shorashim (roots or principles) to guide his selection.
  • Sefer Ha'shamad (letter of Martydom)
  • Mishneh Torah, also known as Sefer Yad ha-Chazaka, a comprehensive code of Jewish law;
  • Guide for the Perplexed, a philosophical work harmonising and differentiating Aristotle's philosophy and Jewish theology. Written in Judeo-Arabic, and completed between 1186 and 1190.[98] The first translation of this work into Hebrew was done by Samuel ibn Tibbon in 1204.[59]
  • Teshuvot, collected correspondence and responsa, including a number of public letters (on resurrection and the afterlife, on conversion to other faiths, and Iggereth Teiman – addressed to the oppressed Jewry of Yemen).
  • Hilkhot ha-Yerushalmi, a fragment of a commentary on the Jerusalem Talmud, identified and published by Saul Lieberman in 1947.

Medical works

Maimonides wrote ten known medical works in Arabic that have been translated by the Jewish medical ethicist Fred Rosner into contemporary English.[36][99]

  • The Art of Cure – Extracts from Galen (Barzel, 1992, Vol. 5)[100] is essentially an extract of Galen's extensive writings.
  • Commentary on the Aphorisms of Hippocrates (Rosner, 1987, Vol. 2; Hebrew:[101] פירוש לפרקי אבוקראט) is interspersed with his own views.
  • Medical Aphorisms[102] of Moses (Rosner, 1989, Vol. 3) titled Fusul Musa in Arabic ("Chapters of Moses," Hebrew:[103] פרקי משה) contains 1500 aphorisms and many medical conditions are described.
  • Treatise on Hemorrhoids (in Rosner, 1984, Vol. 1; Hebrew:[104] ברפואת הטחורים) discusses also digestion and food.
  • Treatise on Cohabitation (in Rosner, 1984, Vol. 1) contains recipes as aphrodisiacs and anti-aphrodisiacs.
  • Treatise on Asthma (Rosner, 1994, Vol. 6)[105] discusses climates and diets and their effect on asthma and emphasizes the need for clean air.
  • Treatise on Poisons and Their Antidotes (in Rosner, 1984, Vol. 1) is an early toxicology textbook that remained popular for centuries.
  • Regimen of Health (in Rosner, 1990, Vol. 4; Hebrew:[106] הנהגת הבריאות) is a discourse on healthy living and the mind-body connection.
  • Discourse on the Explanation of Fits advocates healthy living and the avoidance of overabundance.
  • Glossary of Drug Names (Rosner, 1992, Vol. 7)[107] represents a pharmacopeia with 405 paragraphs with the names of drugs in Arabic, Greek, Syrian, Persian, Berber, and Spanish.

Treatise on logic

The Treatise on Logic (Arabic: Maqala Fi-Sinat Al-Mantiq) has been printed 17 times, including editions in Latin (1527), German (1805, 1822, 1833, 1828), French (1935), and English (1938), and in an abridged Hebrew form. The work illustrates the essentials of Aristotelian logic to be found in the teachings of the great Islamic philosophers such as Avicenna and, above all, Al-Farabi, "the Second Master," the "First Master" being Aristotle. In his work devoted to the Treatise, Rémi Brague stresses the fact that Al-Farabi is the only philosopher mentioned therein. This indicates a line of conduct for the reader, who must read the text keeping in mind Al-Farabi's works on logic. In the Hebrew versions, the Treatise is called The words of Logic which describes the bulk of the work. The author explains the technical meaning of the words used by logicians. The Treatise duly inventories the terms used by the logician and indicates what they refer to. The work proceeds rationally through a lexicon of philosophical terms to a summary of higher philosophical topics, in 14 chapters corresponding to Maimonides's birthdate of 14 Nissan. The number 14 recurs in many of Maimonides's works. Each chapter offers a cluster of associated notions. The meaning of the words is explained and illustrated with examples. At the end of each chapter, the author carefully draws up the list of words studied.

Until very recently, it was accepted that Maimonides wrote the Treatise on logic in his twenties or even in his teen[108] years. Herbert Davidson has raised questions about Maimonides's authorship of this short work (and of other short works traditionally attributed to Maimonides). He maintains that Maimonides was not the author at all, based on a report of two Arabic-language manuscripts, unavailable to Western investigators in Asia Minor.[109] Rabbi Yosef Kafih maintained that it is by Maimonides and newly translated it to Hebrew (as Beiur M'lekhet HaHiggayon) from the Judeo-Arabic.[110]

See also


  1. ^ Hebrew: מֹשֶׁה בֶּן־מַיְמוּן Mōšeh ben-Maymūn; Arabic: موسى بن ميمونMūsā bin Maymūn), Greek: Μαϊμωνίδης Maïmōnídēs; Latin: Moses Maimonides
  2. ^ /ˌrɑːmˈbɑːm/, for Rabbeinu Mōšeh bēn Maimun, "Our Rabbi Moses, son of Maimon"


  1. ^ "Moses Maimonides – Jewish philosopher, scholar, and physician".
  2. ^ "Hebrew Date Converter – 14th of Nisan, 4895 – Hebcal Jewish Calendar".
  3. ^ "Hebrew Date Converter – 14th of Nisan, 4898 – Hebcal Jewish Calendar".
  4. ^ Goldin, Hyman E. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch – Code of Jewish Law, Forward to the New Edition. (New York: Hebrew Publishing Company, 1961)
  5. ^ "H-Net".
  6. ^ "The Influence of Islamic Thought on Maimonides". Maimonides Islamic Influences. Plato. Stanford. 2016.
  7. ^ "Isaac Newton: "Judaic monotheist of the school of Maimonides"". 2007-06-19. Retrieved 2010-03-13.
  8. ^ Maimonides: Abū ʿImrān Mūsā [Moses] ibn ʿUbayd Allāh [Maymūn] al‐Qurṭubī
  9. ^ A Biographical and Historiographical Critique of Moses Maimonides Archived May 24, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ S. R. Simon (1999). "Moses Maimonides: medieval physician and scholar". Arch Intern Med. 159 (16): 1841–5. doi:10.1001/archinte.159.16.1841. PMID 10493314.
  11. ^ Athar Yawar Email Address (2008). "Maimonides's medicine". The Lancet. 371 (9615): 804. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(08)60365-7.
  12. ^ Davidson, pp. 6–9, 18. If the traditional birth date of 14 Nisan is not correct, then a date in 1136 or 1137 is also possible.
  13. ^ Joel E. Kramer, "Moses Maimonides: An Intellectual Portrait," p. 47 note 1. In Kenneth Seeskin, ed. (September 2005). The Cambridge Companion to Maimonides. ISBN 9780521525787.
  14. ^ 1138 in Stroumsa, Maimonides in His World: Portrait of a Mediterranean Thinker, Princeton University Press, 2009, p. 8
  15. ^ Sherwin B. Nuland (2008), Maimonides, Random House LLC, p. 38
  16. ^ "Moses Maimonides | biography – Jewish philosopher, scholar, and physician". Retrieved 2015-06-04.
  17. ^ Gedaliah ibn Yahya ben Joseph, Shalshelet Ha-Kabbalah Jerusalem 1962, p. ק; but in PDF p. 109 (Hebrew)
  18. ^ Abraham Zacuto, Sefer Yuchasin, Cracow 1580 (Hebrew), p. 261 in PDF, which reads: "… I saw in a booklet that the Ark of God, even Rabbi Moses b. Maimon, of blessed memory, had been taken up (i.e. euphemism for "had died"), in the year [4],965 anno mundi (= 1204/5 CE) in Egypt, and the Jews wept for him – as did [all] the Egyptians – three days, and they coined a name for that time of year, [saying], 'there was wailing,' and on the seventh day [of his passing], the news reached Alexandria, and on the eighth day, [the news reached] Jerusalem, and in Jerusalem they made a great public mourning [on his behalf] and called for a fast and public gathering, where it was that the prayer precentor read out the admonitions, 'If you shall walk in my statutes [etc.]' (Leviticus 26:3-ff.), as well as read the concluding verse [from the Prophets], 'And it came to pass that Samuel spoke to all of Israel [etc.],' and he then concluded by saying that the Ark of God had been taken away. Now after certain days they brought up his coffin to the Land of Israel, during which journey thieves encountered them, causing those who had gone up to flee, leaving there the coffin. Now the thieves, when they saw that they had all fled, they desired to have the coffin cast into the sea, but were unable with all their strength to uproot the coffin from the ground, even though they had been more than thirty men, and when they considered the matter, they then said to themselves that he was a godly and holy man, and so they went their way. However, they gave assurances to the Jews that they would escort them to their destination, and so it was that they also accompanied him and he was buried in Tiberias."
  19. ^ Stroumsa, Maimonides in His World: Portrait of a Mediterranean Thinker, Princeton University Press, 2009, p.65
  20. ^ Strousma, Maimonides in His World, pp.66–67
  21. ^ Abraham Heschel, Maimonides (New York: Farrar Strauss, 1982), Chapter 15, "Meditation on God," pp. 157–162.
  22. ^ a b 1954 Encyclopedia Americana, vol. 18, p. 140.
  23. ^ Y. K. Stillman, ed. (1984). "Libās". Encyclopaedia of Islam. 5 (2nd ed.). Brill Academic Publishers. p. 744. ISBN 978-90-04-09419-2.
  24. ^ "Jewish Virtual Library". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 2012-09-19.
  25. ^ Stroumsa (2009), Maimonides in His World, p.59
  26. ^ A.K. Bennison; M.A. Gallego García (2008). "Jewish Trading in Fez on the Eve of the Almohad Conquest" (PDF).
  27. ^ Seder HaDoros (year 4927) quotes Maimonides as saying that he began writing his commentary on the Mishna when he was 23 years old, and published it when he was 30. Because of the dispute about the date of Maimonides's birth, it is not clear which year the work was published.
  28. ^ Davidson, p. 29.
  29. ^ a b Goitein, S.D. Letters of Medieval Jewish Traders, Princeton University Press, 1973 (ISBN 0-691-05212-3), p. 208
  30. ^ Magazine, rambam_temple_mount, Jewish. "No Jew had been permitted to enter the holy city which has become a Christian bastion since the Crusaders conquered it in 1096". Retrieved 2018-02-09.
  31. ^ Cohen, Mark R. Poverty and Charity in the Jewish Community of Medieval Egypt. Princeton University Press, 2005 (ISBN 0-691-09272-9), pp. 115–116
  32. ^ The "India Trade" (a term devised by the Arabist S.D. Goitein) was a highly lucrative business venture in which Jewish merchants from Egypt, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East imported and exported goods ranging from pepper to brass from various ports along the Malabar Coast between the 11th–13th centuries. For more info, see the "India Traders" chapter in Goitein, Letters of Medieval Jewish Traders, 1973 or Goitein, India Traders of the Middle Ages, 2008.
  33. ^ Goitein, Letters of Medieval Jewish Traders, p. 207
  34. ^ Cohen, Poverty and Charity in the Jewish Community of Medieval Egypt, p. 115
  35. ^ a b c Julia Bess Frank (1981). "Moses Maimonides: rabbi or medicine". The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. 54 (1): 79–88. PMC 2595894. PMID 7018097.
  36. ^ a b c Fred Rosner (2002). "The Life of Moses Maimonides, a Prominent Medieval Physician" (PDF). Einstein Quart J Biol Med. 19 (3): 125–128.
  37. ^ Gesundheit B, Or R, Gamliel C, Rosner F, Steinberg A (April 2008). "Treatment of depression by Maimonides (1138–1204): Rabbi, Physician, and Philosopher" (PDF). Am J Psychiatry. 165 (4): 425–428. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2007.07101575. PMID 18381913. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-03-05.
  38. ^ Abraham Heschel, Maimonides (New York: Farrar Strauss, 1982), Chapter 15, "Meditation on God," pp. 157–162, and also pp. 178–180, 184–185, 204, etc. Isadore Twersky, editor, A Maimonides Reader (New York: Behrman House, 1972), commences his "Introduction" with the following remarks, p. 1: "Maimonides's biography immediately suggests a profound paradox. A philosopher by temperament and ideology, a zealous devotee of the contemplative life who eloquently portrayed and yearned for the serenity of solitude and the spiritual exuberance of meditation, he nevertheless led a relentlessly active life that regularly brought him to the brink of exhaustion."
  39. ^ Responsa Pe’er HaDor, 143.
  40. ^ Such views of his works are found in almost all scholarly studies of the man and his significance. See, for example, the "Introduction" sub-chapter by Howard Kreisel to his overview article "Moses Maimonides," in History of Jewish Philosophy, edited by Daniel H. Frank and Oliver Leaman, Second Edition (New York and London: Routledge, 2003), pp. 245–246.
  41. ^ Click to see full English translation of Maimonides's "Epistle to Yemen"
  42. ^ The comment on the effect of his "incessant travail" on his health is by Salo Baron, "Moses Maimonides," in Great Jewish Personalities in Ancient and Medieval Time, edited by Simon Noveck (B'nai B'rith Department of Adult Jewish Education, 1959), p. 227, where Baron also quotes from Maimonides's letter to Ibn Tibbon regarding his daily regime.
  43. ^ The Life of Maimonides Archived 2010-11-20 at the Wayback Machine, Jewish National and University Library
  44. ^ Amiram Barkat, "The End of the Exodus from Egypt" Archived 2011-07-17 at the Wayback Machine, Haaretz (Israel), 21 April 2005
  45. ^ אגרות הרמב"ם מהדורת שילת
  46. ^ Sarah E. Karesh; Mitchell M. Hurvitz (2005). Encyclopedia of Judaism. Facts on File. p. 305. ISBN 978-0-8160-5457-2.
  47. ^ H. J. Zimmels (1997). Ashkenazim and Sephardim: Their Relations, Differences, and Problems as Reflected in the Rabbinical Responsa (Revised ed.). Ktav Publishing House. p. 283. ISBN 978-0-88125-491-4.
  48. ^ Dogma in Medieval Jewish Thought, Menachem Kellner
  49. ^ "The Thirteen Principles of Jewish Faith".
  50. ^ See, for example: Marc B. Shapiro. The Limits of Orthodox Theology: Maimonides' Thirteen Principles Reappraised. Littman Library of Jewish Civilization (2011). pp. 1–14.
  51. ^ Siegelbaum, Chana Bracha (2010) Women at the crossroads : a woman's perspective on the weekly Torah portion Gush Etzion: Midreshet B'erot Bat Ayin. ISBN 9781936068098 page 199
  52. ^ Last section of Maimonides's Introduction to Mishneh Torah
  53. ^ "Avkat Rochel ch. 32".
  54. ^ Moses Maimonides, The Commandments, Neg. Comm. 290, at 269–71 (Charles B. Chavel trans., 1967).
  55. ^ Leslie, Donald. The Survival of the Chinese Jews; The Jewish Community of Kaifeng. Tʻoung pao, 10. Leiden: Brill, 1972, p. 157
  56. ^ Pollak, Michael. Mandarins, Jews, and Missionaries: The Jewish Experience in the Chinese Empire. The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1980, p. 413
  57. ^ Pollak, Mandarins, Jews, and Missionaries, pp. 297–298
  58. ^ "Hebrew Source of Maimonides's Levels of Giving with Danny Siegel's translation" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-09-19.
  59. ^ a b "The Guide to the Perplexed". World Digital Library. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  60. ^ Kraemer, 326-8
  61. ^ Kraemer, 66
  62. ^ a b Robinson, George. "Maimonides’ Conception of God/" My Jewish Learning. 30 April 2018.
  63. ^ Telushkin, 29
  64. ^ Commentary on The Ethics of the Fathers 1:15. Qtd. in Telushkin, 115
  65. ^ Kraemer, 332-4
  66. ^ MT De'ot 6:1
  67. ^ "Maimonides believed that women were capable of being instructed in Talmud and even that women can be prophetesses." Kraemer, 336
  68. ^ Moses Maimonides (2007). The Guide to the Perplexed. BN Publishers.
  69. ^ Joseph Jacobs. "Moses Ben Maimon". Jewish Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2011-03-13.
  70. ^ Shlomo Pines (2006). "Maimonides (1135–1204)". Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 5: 647–654.
  71. ^ Isadore Twersky (2005). "Maimonides, Moses". Encyclopedia of Religion. 8: 5613–5618.
  72. ^ Joel E. Kramer, "Moses Maimonides: An Intellectual Portrait," p. 45. In Kenneth Seeskin, ed. (September 2005). The Cambridge Companion to Maimonides. ISBN 9780521525787.
  73. ^ Rudavsky, T. (March 2010). Maimonidies. Singapore: Wiley-Blackwell. p. 10. ISBN 978-1-4051-4898-6.
  74. ^ "Guide for the Perplexed, on". Retrieved 2010-03-13.
  75. ^ See: Maimonides's Ma'amar Teḥayyath Hamethim (Treatise on the Resurrection of the Dead), published in Book of Letters and Responsa (ספר אגרות ותשובות), Jerusalem 1978, p. 9 (Hebrew). According to Maimonides, certain Jews in Yemen had sent to him a letter in the year 1189, evidently irritated as to why he had not mentioned the physical resurrection of the dead in his Hil. Teshuvah, chapter 8, and how that some persons in Yemen had begun to instruct, based on Maimonides's teaching, that when the body dies it will disintegrate and the soul will never return to such bodies after death. Maimonides denied that he ever insinuated such things, and reiterated that the body would indeed resurrect, but that the "world to come" was something different in nature.
  76. ^ Kraemer, 422
  77. ^ Commentary on the Mishna, Avot 5:6
  78. ^ Within [the Torah] there is also another part which is called ‘hidden’ (mutsnaʿ), and this [concerns] the secrets (sodot) which the human intellect cannot attain, like the meanings of the statutes (ḥukim) and other hidden secrets. They can neither be attained through the intellect nor through sheer volition, but they are revealed before Him who created [the Torah] (Rabbi Abraham ben Asher, The Or ha-Sekhel)
  79. ^ Such as the first (religious) criticism of Kabbalah, Ari Nohem, by Leon Modena from 1639. In it, Modena urges a return to Maimonidean Aristotelianism. The Scandal of Kabbalah: Leon Modena, Jewish Mysticism, Early Modern Venice, Yaacob Dweck, Princeton University Press, 2011.
  80. ^ Menachem Kellner, Maimonides' Confrontation With Mysticism, Littman Library, 2006
  81. ^ Maimonides: Philosopher and Mystic from
  82. ^ Contemporary academic views in the study of Jewish mysticism, hold that 12-13th century Kabbalists wrote down and systemised their transmitted oral doctrines in oppositional response to Maimonidean rationalism. See e.g. Moshe Idel, Kabbalah: New Perspectives
  83. ^ The first comprehensive systemiser of Kabbalah, Moshe Cordovero, for example, was influenced by Maimonides. One example is his instruction to undercut any conception of a Kabbalistic idea after grasping it in the mind. One's intellect runs to God in learning the idea, then returns back in qualified rejection of false spatial/temporal conceptions of the idea's truth, as the human mind can only think in material references. Cited in Louis Jacobs, The Jewish Religion: A Companion, Oxford University Press, 1995, entry on Cordovero
  84. ^ Norman Lamm, The Religious Thought of Hasidism: Text and Commentary, Ktav Pub, 1999: Introduction to chapter on Faith/Reason has historical overview of religious reasons for opposition to Jewish philosophy, including the Ontological reason, one Medieval Kabbalist holding that "we begin where they end"
  85. ^ "Oath and Prayer of Maimonides". Archived from the original on 2008-06-29. Retrieved 2010-03-13.
  86. ^ Isidore Twersky, Introduction to the Code of Maimonides (Mishneh Torah), Yale Judaica Series, vol. XII (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1980). passim, and especially Chapter VII, "Epilogue," pp. 515–538.
  87. ^ This is covered in all histories of the Jews. E.g., including such a brief overview as Cecil Roth, A History of the Jews, Revised Edition (New York: Schocken, 1970), pp. 175–179.
  88. ^ D.J. Silver, Maimonidean Criticism and the Maimonidean Controversy, 1180–1240 (Leiden: Brill, 1965), is still the most detailed account.
  89. ^ David Hartman, Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1976), p. 98.
  90. ^ On the extensive philosophical aspects of Maimonides's halakhic works, see in particular Isidore Twersky's Introduction to the Code of Maimonides (Mishneh Torah), Yale Judaica Series, vol. XII (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1980). Twersky devotes a major portion of this authoritative study to the philosophical aspects of the Mishneh Torah itself.
  91. ^ The Maimunist or Maimonidean controversy is covered in all histories of Jewish philosophy and general histories of the Jews. For an overview, with bibliographic references, see Idit Dobbs-Weinstein, "The Maimonidean Controversy," in History of Jewish Philosophy, Second Edition, edited by Daniel H. Frank and Oliver Leaman (London and New York: Routledge, 2003), pp. 331–349. Also see Colette Sirat, A History of Jewish Philosophy in the Middle Ages (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), pp. 205–272.
  92. ^ Mercedes Rubio (2006). "Aquinas and Maimonides on the Divine Names". Aquinas and Maimonides on the possibility of the knowledge of god. Springer-Verlag. pp. 65–126. doi:10.1007/1-4020-4747-9_2. ISBN 978-1-4020-4720-6.
  93. ^ Vivian McAlister, Maimonides's cooling period and organ retrieval (Canadian Journal of Surgery 2004; 47: 8 – 9)
  94. ^ "Maimonides – His Thought Related to Ecology in The Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature".
  95. ^ David MOrris. "Major Grant Awarded to Maimonides". Florida Jewish Journal. Archived from the original on July 30, 2007. Retrieved 2010-03-13.
  96. ^ "Harvard University Press: Maimonides after 800 Years : Essays on Maimonides and his Influence by Jay M. Harris". Retrieved 2010-03-13.
  97. ^ Shelly Paz (8 May 2008) Tourism Ministry plans joint project with Morocco, Spain. The Jerusalem Post
  98. ^ Kehot Publication Society,
  99. ^ Volume 5 translated by Barzel (foreword by Rosner).
  100. ^ Title page, TOC.
  101. ^ "כתבים רפואיים – ג (פירוש לפרקי אבוקראט) / משה בן מימון (רמב"ם) / ת"ש-תש"ב – אוצר החכמה".
  102. ^ Maimonides. Medical Aphorisms (Treatises 1–5 6–9 10–15 16–21 22–25), Brigham Young University, ProvoUtah
  103. ^ "כתבים רפואיים – ב (פרקי משה ברפואה) / משה בן מימון (רמב"ם) / ת"ש-תש"ב – אוצר החכמה".
  104. ^ "כתבים רפואיים – ד (ברפואת הטחורים) / משה בן מימון (רמב"ם) / ת"ש-תש"ב – אוצר החכמה".
  105. ^ Title page, TOC.
  106. ^ "כתבים רפואיים – א (הנהגת הבריאות) / משה בן מימון (רמב"ם) / ת"ש-תש"ב – אוצר החכמה".
  107. ^ Title page, TOC.
  108. ^ Abraham Heschel, Maimonides. New York: Farrar Strauss, 1982 p. 22 ("at sixteen")
  109. ^ Davidson, pp. 313 ff.
  110. ^ "באור מלאכת ההגיון / משה בן מימון (רמב"ם) / תשנ"ז – אוצר החכמה".

See also


  • Uriel Barzel (1992). Maimonides's Medical Writings: The Art of Cure Extracts. 5. Galen: Maimonides Research Institute.
  • Davidson, Herbert A. (2005). Moses Maimonides: The Man and his Works. Oxford University Press.
  • Feldman, Rabbi Yaakov (2008). Shemonah Perakim: The Eight Chapters of the Rambam. Targum Press.
  • Fox, Marvin (1990). Interpreting Maimonides. Univ. of Chicago Press.
  • Julius Guttman (1964). David Silverman, ed. Philosophies of Judaism. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America.
  • Moshe Halbertal (2013). Maimonides: Life and Thought. Princeton University Press.* David Hartman (1976). Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America.
  • Abraham Joshua Heschel (1982). Maimonides: The Life and Times of a Medieval Jewish Thinker. New York: Farrar Strauss.
  • Isaac Husik (2002) [1941]. A History of Jewish Philosophy. Dover Publications, Inc. Originally published by the Jewish Publication of America, Philadelphia.
  • Aryeh Kaplan (1994). "Maimonides Principles: The Fundamentals of Jewish Faith". The Aryeh Kaplan Anthology. I.
  • Leaman, Daniel H.; Leaman, Frank; Leaman, Oliver (2003). History of Jewish Philosophy (Second ed.). London and New York: Routledge. See especially chapters 10 through 15.
  • Kellner, Menachem (1986). Dogma in Medieval Jewish Thought. London: Oxford University press.
  • Kohler, George Y. (2012). "Reading Maimonides's Philosophy in 19th Century Germany". Amsterdam Studies in Jewish Philosophy. 15.
  • Kraemer, Joel L. (2008). Maimonides: The Life and World of One of Civilization's Greatest Minds. Doubleday.
  • Fred Rosner (1984–1994). Maimonides's Medical Writings. 7 Vols. Maimonides Research Institute. (Volume 5 translated by Uriel Barzel; foreword by Fred Rosner.)
  • Seidenberg, David (2005). "Maimonides – His Thought Related to Ecology". The Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature.
  • Shapiro, Marc B. (1993). "Maimonides Thirteen Principles: The Last Word in Jewish Theology?". The Torah U-Maddah Journal. 4.
  • Shapiro, Marc B. (2008). Studies in Maimonides and His Interpreters. Scranton (PA): University of Scranton Press.
  • Sirat, Colette (1985). A History of Jewish Philosophy in the Middle Ages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. See chapters 5 through 8.
  • Leo Strauss (1988). Persecution and the Art of Writing. University of Chicago Press. reprint
  • Strauss, Leo (1974). Shlomo Pines, ed. How to Begin to Study the Guide: The Guide of the Perplexed – Maimonides (in Arabic). 1. University of Chicago Press.
  • Hart Green, Kenneth (2013). Leo Strauss on Maimonides: The Complete Writings. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Stroumsa, Sarah (2009). Maimonides in His World: Portrait of a Mediterranean Thinker. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-13763-6.
  • Telushkin, Joseph. A Code of Jewish Ethics: Volume 1 - You Shall Be Holy. New York: Bell Tower, 2006.
  • Isadore Twersky (1980). "Introduction to the Code of Maimonides (Mishneh Torah". Yale Judaica Series. New Haven and London. XII.
  • Twersky, Isadore (1972). I Twersky, ed. A Maimonides Reader. New York: Behrman House.
  • Gerrit Bos (2007). Maimonides. Medical Aphorisms Treatise 1–5 (6–9, 10–15, 16–21, 22–25). Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press.
  • Gerrit Bos (2002). Maimonides. On Asthma (vol.1, vol.2). Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press.

External links

About Maimonides
Maimonides's works
Texts by Maimonides
613 commandments

The tradition that 613 commandments (Hebrew: תרי"ג מצוות, taryag mitzvot, "613 mitzvot") is the number of mitzvot in the Torah, began in the 3rd century CE, when Rabbi Simlai mentioned it in a sermon that is recorded in Talmud Makkot 23b.Although there have been a lot of attempts to codify and enumerate the commandments contained in the Torah, the most traditional enumeration is Maimonides'. The 613 commandments include "positive commandments", to perform an act (mitzvot aseh), and "negative commandments", to abstain from certain acts (mitzvot lo taaseh). The negative commandments number 365, which coincides with the number of days in the solar year, and the positive commandments number 248, a number ascribed to the number of bones and main organs in the human body (Babylonian Talmud, Makkot 23b–24a). Though the number 613 is mentioned in the Talmud, its real significance increased in later medieval rabbinic literature, including many works listing or arranged by the mitzvot. Three types of negative commandments fall under the self-sacrificial principle yehareg ve'al ya'avor, meaning "One should let oneself be killed rather than violate it". These are murder, idolatry, and forbidden sexual relations.The 613 mitzvot have been divided also into three general categories: mishpatim; edot; and chukim. Mishpatim ("laws") include commandments that are deemed to be self-evident, such as not to murder and not to steal. Edot ("testimonies") commemorate important events in Jewish history. For example, the Shabbat is said to testify to the story that Hashem created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day and declared it holy. Chukim ("decrees") are commandments with no known rationale, and are perceived as pure manifestations of the Divine will.Many of the mitzvot cannot be observed now, following the destruction of the Second Temple, although they still retain religious significance. According to one standard reckoning, there are 77 positive and 194 negative commandments that can be observed today, of which there are 26 commands that apply only within the Land of Israel. Furthermore, there are some time-related commandments from which women are exempt (examples include shofar, sukkah, lulav, tzitzit and tefillin). Some depend on the special status of a person in Judaism (such as kohanim), while others apply only to men or only to women.

Abraham Maimonides

Abraham Maimonides (אברהם בן רמב"ם; also known as Rabbeinu Avraham ben ha-Rambam, and Avraham Maimuni) (1186 – December 7, 1237) was the son of Maimonides who succeeded his father as Nagid of the Egyptian Jewish community.

Beit Yosef (book)

Beit Yosef (Hebrew: בית יוסף‎) (also transliterated Beth Yosef) is a book by Rabbi Joseph Caro. It is a long, detailed commentary on the Arba'ah Turim ("Tur") by Jacob ben Asher. It served as a precursor to the Shulchan Aruch, which Rabbi Caro wrote later in his life.

Beit Yosef is a comprehensive commentary on the Arba'ah Turim , citing and analyzing the Talmudic, Geonic, and major subsequent halachic authorities. It analyzes the theories and conclusions of those authorities cited by the Tur, and also examines the opinions of authorities not mentioned by him. Karo began the Beit Yosef in 1522 at Adrianople, finished it in 1542 at Safed in the Land of Israel; he published it in 1550–59.

Thirty-two authorities, beginning with the Talmud and ending with the works of Rabbi Israel Isserlein (1390–1460 and known as the Terumath ha-Deshen), are summarized and critically discussed in Beit Yosef. No other rabbinical work compares with it in wealth of material. Karo evidences not only an astonishing range of reading, covering almost the entire rabbinic literature up to his time, but also remarkable powers of critical investigation.

In the introduction, Karo clearly states the necessity of, and his reasons for undertaking such a work. The expulsion of the Jews from the Iberian peninsula and the invention of printing had endangered the stability of religious observances on their legal and ritual sides. By the 15th century, the Jews in Spain and the Jews of Portugal followed two main traditions: the older tradition of Maimonides, whose school of thought is heir to the Talmudic academies of Babylonia via the scholars of North Africa; and the Ashkenazi school of the Tosafists whose tradition is based on analytical thinking (related to pilpul), a methodology that was developed in the yeshivot of France and Germany that taught the importance of the minhagim or "customs" of the country. Jews then living in the different kingdoms of Spain had their standard authorities to which they appealed. The most prominent of these were Maimonides, whose opinions were accepted in Andalusia, Valencia, Israel and the Near East; Nahmanides and Solomon ben Adret, whose opinions were accepted in Catalonia; and Asher ben Jehiel and his family, of German origin, whose opinions were accepted in Castile. When the Spanish-Portuguese exiles came to the various communities in the East and West, where usages entirely different from those to which they had been accustomed prevailed, the question naturally arose whether the newcomers, some of whom were men of greater learning than the members of the host communities in Europe, should be ruled by the latter, or vice versa.

The proliferation of printed books, moreover, dramatically increased the availability of halakhic literature; so that many half-educated persons, finding themselves in possession of legal treatises, felt justified in following any ancient authority at will. Karo undertook his Beit Yosef to remedy this problem, quoting and critically examining in his book the opinions of all the major authorities then known.

Etan Cohen

Etan Cohen (born March 14, 1974) is an Israeli-American screenwriter and film director. He is best known for writing the scripts to Tropic Thunder, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa and Men in Black 3.

Gathering of Israel

The Gathering of Israel (Hebrew: קיבוץ גלויות, Kibbutz Galuyot (Biblical: Qibbuṣ Galuyoth), lit. Ingathering of the Exiles, also known as Ingathering of the Jewish diaspora) is the biblical promise of Deuteronomy 30:1-5 given by Moses to the people of Israel prior to their entrance into the Land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael).

During the days of the Babylonian exile, writings of the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel encouraged the people of Israel with a promise of a future gathering of the exiles to the land of Israel. The continual hope for a return of the Israelite exiles to the land has been in the hearts of Jews ever since the destruction of the Second Temple. Maimonides connected its materialization with the coming of the Messiah.

The gathering of the exiles in the land of Israel, became the core idea of the Zionist Movement and the core idea of Israel's Scroll of Independence (Megilat Ha'atzmaut), embodied by the idea of going up, Aliyah, since the Holy Land is considered to be spiritually higher than all other land. The immigration of Jews to the land and the State of Israel, the "mass" wave of Aliyot (plural form), has been likened to the Exodus from Egypt.

God in Judaism

In Judaism, God has been conceived in a variety of ways. Traditionally, Judaism holds that YHWH, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the national god of the Israelites, delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, and gave them the Law of Moses at biblical Mount Sinai as described in the Torah. According to the rationalist stream of Judaism articulated by Maimonides, which later came to dominate much of official traditional Jewish thought, God is understood as the absolute one, indivisible, and incomparable being who is the ultimate cause of all existence. Traditional interpretations of Judaism generally emphasize that God is personal yet also transcendent, while some modern interpretations of Judaism emphasize that God is a force or ideal.The names of God used most often in the Hebrew Bible are the Tetragrammaton (YHWH Hebrew: יהוה) and Elohim. Other names of God in traditional Judaism include El Shaddai and Shekhinah.

Islamic–Jewish relations

Islamic–Jewish relations started in the 7th century AD with the origin and spread of Islam in the Arabian peninsula. The two religions share similar values, guidelines, and principles. Islam also incorporates Jewish history as a part of its own. Muslims regard the Children of Israel as an important religious concept in Islam. Moses, the most important prophet of Judaism, is also considered a prophet and messenger in Islam. Moses is mentioned in the Quran more than any other individual, and his life is narrated and recounted more than that of any other prophet. There are approximately 43 references to the Israelites in the Quran (excluding individual prophets), and many in the Hadith. Later rabbinic authorities and Jewish scholars such as Maimonides discussed the relationship between Islam and Jewish law. Maimonides himself, it has been argued, was influenced by Islamic legal thought.Because Islam and Judaism share a common origin in the Middle East through Abraham, both are considered Abrahamic religions. There are many shared aspects between Judaism and Islam; Islam was strongly influenced by Judaism in its fundamental religious outlook, structure, jurisprudence and practice. Because of this similarity, as well as through the influence of Muslim culture and philosophy on the Jewish community within the Islamic world, there has been considerable and continued physical, theological, and political overlap between the two faiths in the subsequent 1,400 years. Notably, the first Islamic Waqf was donated by a Jew, Rabbi Mukhayriq. And in 1027, a Jew, Samuel ibn Naghrillah, became top advisor and military general of the Taifa of Granada.

Jewish philosophy

Jewish philosophy (Hebrew: פילוסופיה יהודית‎) includes all philosophy carried out by Jews, or in relation to the religion of Judaism. Until modern Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment) and Jewish emancipation, Jewish philosophy was preoccupied with attempts to reconcile coherent new ideas into the tradition of Rabbinic Judaism, thus organizing emergent ideas that are not necessarily Jewish into a uniquely Jewish scholastic framework and world-view. With their acceptance into modern society, Jews with secular educations embraced or developed entirely new philosophies to meet the demands of the world in which they now found themselves.

Medieval re-discovery of ancient Greek philosophy among the Geonim of 10th century Babylonian academies brought rationalist philosophy into Biblical-Talmudic Judaism. The philosophy was generally in competition with Kabbalah. Both schools would become part of classic Rabbinic literature, though the decline of scholastic rationalism coincided with historical events which drew Jews to the Kabbalistic approach. For Ashkenazi Jews, emancipation and encounter with secular thought from the 18th century onwards altered how philosophy was viewed. Ashkenazi and Sephardi communities had later more ambivalent interaction with secular culture than in Western Europe. In the varied responses to modernity, Jewish philosophical ideas were developed across the range of emerging religious movements. These developments could be seen as either continuations of or breaks from the canon of Rabbinic philosophy of the Middle Ages, as well as the other historical dialectic aspects of Jewish thought, and resulted in diverse contemporary Jewish attitudes to philosophical methods.

Jewish principles of faith

There is no established formulation of principles of faith that are recognized by all branches of Judaism. Central authority in Judaism is not vested in any one person or group - although the Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish religious court, would fulfill this role when it is re-established - but rather in Judaism's sacred

writings, laws, and traditions.

Judaism affirms the existence and uniqueness of God, and stresses performance of deeds or commandments alongside adherence to a strict belief system. In contrast to traditions such as Christianity which demand a more explicit identification of God, faith in Judaism requires one to honour God through a constant struggle with God's instructions (Torah) and the practice of their mitzvot.

Orthodox Judaism stresses a number of core principles in its educational programs, most importantly a belief that there is one single, omniscient, transcendent, non-compound God, who created the universe, and continues to be concerned with its governance. Traditional Judaism maintains that God established a covenant with the Jewish people at Mount Sinai, and revealed his laws and 613 commandments to them in the form of the Written and Oral Torah. In Rabbinic Judaism, the Torah consists of both the written Torah (Pentateuch) and a tradition of oral law, much of it later codified in sacred writings (see: Mishna, Talmud).

Traditionally, the practice of Judaism has been devoted to the study of Torah and observance of its laws and commandments. In normative Judaism, the Torah, and hence Jewish law itself, is unchanging, but interpretation of the law is more open. It is considered a mitzvah (commandment) to study and understand the law.

The proper counterpart for the general English term "faith" - as occurring in the expression "principles of faith" - would be the concept of Emunah in Judaism. While it is generally translated as faith or trust in God, the concept of Emunah can more accurately be described as "an innate conviction, a perception of truth that transcends (...) reason". Emunah can be enhanced through wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and learning of sacred Jewish writings. But Emunah is not simply based on reason, nor can it be understood as the opposite of, or standing in contrast to, reason.

There are a number of basic principles that were formulated by medieval rabbinic authorities. These are put forth as fundamental underpinnings inherent in the "acceptance and practice of Judaism".

Joseph ben Judah of Ceuta

Joseph ben Judah (Hebrew: יוסף בן יהודה Yosef ben Yehuda) of Ceuta (c. 1160–1226) was a Jewish physician and poet, and disciple of Moses Maimonides.

It is as an address to Joseph that Maimonides introduces his Guide for the Perplexed.

Judaism's view of Jesus

Among followers of Judaism, Jesus is viewed as having been the most influential and, consequently, the most damaging of all false messiahs. However, since the traditional Jewish belief is that the messiah has not yet come and the Messianic Age is not yet present, the total rejection of Jesus as either messiah or deity has never been a central issue for Judaism.

Judaism has never accepted any of the claimed fulfilments of prophecy that Christianity attributes to Jesus. Judaism also forbids the worship of a person as a form of idolatry, since the central belief of Judaism is the absolute unity and singularity of God. Jewish eschatology holds that the coming of the Messiah will be associated with a specific series of events that have not yet occurred, including the return of Jews to their homeland and the rebuilding of The Temple, a Messianic Age of peace and understanding during which "the knowledge of God" fills the earth." And since Jews believe that none of these events occurred during the lifetime of Jesus (nor have they occurred afterwards), he was not the Messiah.

Traditional views of Jesus have been mostly negative (see: Toledot Yeshu), an account that portrays Jesus as an impostor, although in the Middle Ages Judah Halevi and Maimonides viewed Jesus as an important preparatory figure for a future universal ethical monotheism of the Messianic Age. Some modern Jewish thinkers have sympathetically speculated that the historical Jesus may have been closer to Judaism than either the Gospels or traditional Jewish accounts would indicate, starting in the 18th century with the Orthodox Jacob Emden and the reformer Moses Mendelssohn. This view is still espoused by some.

Maimonides Medical Center

Maimonides Medical Center is a non-profit, non-sectarian hospital located in Borough Park, in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, in the U.S. state of New York. Maimonides is both a treatment facility and academic medical center with 711 beds, and more than 70 primary care and sub-specialty programs. As of August 1, 2016, Maimonides Medical Center was an adult and pediatric trauma center, and Brooklyn's only pediatric trauma center.

Maimonides Schools for Jewish Studies

Maimonides Schools for Jewish Studies (MSJS) is a degree-granting institution invested with university powers operating pursuant to an act of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario 1968-69. The school is a privately funded Ontario institution with authority to grant Baccalaureate, Masters and Doctorate degrees. Maimonides College, a division of MSJS, offers undergraduate degree programs with major concentrations in the field of Jewish Studies.

MSJS is based in Ontario.

Messiah in Judaism

A messiah in Judaism (Hebrew: מָשִׁיחַ‎, translit. māšîaḥ; Greek: χριστός, translit. khristós, lit. 'anointed, covered in oil') is a savior and liberator of the Jewish people. The concept of messianism originated in Judaism, and in the Hebrew Bible, a messiah is a king or High Priest traditionally anointed with holy anointing oil. However, messiahs were not exclusively Jewish, as the Hebrew Bible refers to Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, as a messiah for his decree to rebuild the Jerusalem Temple.

In Jewish eschatology, the Messiah is a future Jewish king from the Davidic line, who is expected to be anointed with holy anointing oil and rule the Jewish people during the Messianic Age and World to come. The Messiah is often referred to as "King Messiah" (Hebrew: מלך משיח‎, translit. melekh mashiach) or malka meshiḥa in Aramaic.

Mishneh Torah

The Mishneh Torah (Hebrew: מִשְׁנֵה תּוֹרָה‎, "Repetition of the Torah"), subtitled Sefer Yad ha-Hazaka (ספר יד החזקה "Book of the Strong Hand"), is a code of Jewish religious law (Halakha) authored by Maimonides (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, also known as RaMBaM or "Rambam"). The Mishneh Torah was compiled between 1170 and 1180 CE (4930 and 4940 AM), while Maimonides was living in Egypt, and is regarded as Maimonides' magnum opus. Accordingly, later sources simply refer to the work as "Maimon", "Maimonides", or "RaMBaM", although Maimonides composed other works.

Mishneh Torah consists of fourteen books, subdivided into sections, chapters, and paragraphs. It is the only Medieval-era work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws that are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in existence, and remains an important work in Judaism.

Its title is an appellation originally used for the Biblical book of Deuteronomy, and its subtitle, "Book of the Strong Hand", derives from its subdivision into fourteen books: the numerical value fourteen, when represented as the Hebrew letters Yod (10) Dalet (4), forms the word yad ("hand").Maimonides intended to provide a complete statement of the Oral Law, so that a person who mastered first the Written Torah and then the Mishneh Torah would be in no need of any other book. Contemporary reaction was mixed, with strong and immediate opposition focusing on the absence of sources and the belief that the work appeared to be intended to supersede study of the Talmud. Maimonides responded to these criticisms, and the Mishneh Torah endures as an influential work in Jewish religious thought. According to several authorities, a decision may not be rendered in opposition to a view of Maimonides, even where he apparently militated against the sense of a Talmudic passage, for in such cases the presumption was that the words of the Talmud were incorrectly interpreted. Likewise: "One must follow Maimonides, even when the latter opposed his teachers, since he surely knew their views, and if he decided against them, he must have disapproved their interpretation."


Moses ben Nahman (Hebrew: מֹשֶׁה בֶּן־נָחְמָן Mōšeh ben-Nāḥmān, "Moses son of Nahman"; 1194–1270), commonly known as Nachmanides (; Greek: Ναχμανίδης Nakhmanídēs), and also referred to by the acronym Ramban (רמב״ן) and by the contemporary nickname Bonastruc ça Porta (literally "Mazel Tov near the Gate", see astruc), was a leading medieval Jewish scholar, Sephardic rabbi, philosopher, physician, kabbalist, and biblical commentator. He was raised, studied, and lived for most of his life in Girona, Catalonia. He is also considered to be an important figure in the re-establishment of the Jewish community in Jerusalem following its destruction by the Crusaders in 1099.

Seven Laws of Noah

The Seven Laws of Noah (Hebrew: שבע מצוות בני נח Sheva Mitzvot B'nei Noach), also referred to as the Noahide Laws or the Noachide Laws (from the Hebrew pronunciation of "Noah"), are a set of imperatives which, according to the Talmud, were given by God as a binding set of laws for the "children of Noah" – that is, all of humanity.According to Jewish tradition, non-Jews who adhere to these laws because they were given by Moses are said to be followers of Noahidism and regarded as righteous gentiles, who are assured of a place in Olam Haba (עולם הבא, the world to come), the final reward of the righteous.The Seven Laws of Noah include prohibitions against worshipping idols, cursing God, murder, adultery and sexual immorality, theft, eating flesh torn from a living animal, as well as the obligation to establish courts of justice.

The Guide for the Perplexed

The Guide for the Perplexed (Hebrew: מורה נבוכים, Moreh Nevukhim; Arabic: دلالة الحائرين‎, dalālat al-ḥā’irīn, דלאל̈ת אלחאירין) is one of the three major works of Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, primarily known either as Maimonides or RAMBAM (Hebrew: רמב"ם‎). This work seeks to reconcile Aristotelian philosophy with Hebrew Bible theology, by finding rational explanations for many events in the text.

It was written in Judeo-Arabic in the form of a three part letter to his student, Rabbi Joseph ben Judah of Ceuta, the son of Rabbi Judah, and is the main source of the Rambam's philosophical views, as opposed to his opinions on Jewish law. A small minority believe the Guide for the Perplexed was written by an anonymous heretic and not the Rambam, most notably amongst these is the revered 18th-century scholar, Reb Yaakov Emden.

Since many of the philosophical concepts, such as his view of theodicy and the relationship between philosophy and religion, are relevant beyond strictly Jewish theology, it has been the work most commonly associated with Maimonides in the non-Jewish world and it is known to have influenced several major non-Jewish philosophers. Following its publication, "almost every philosophic work for the remainder of the Middle Ages cited, commented on, or criticized Maimonides' views." Within Judaism, the Guide became widely popular, with many Jewish communities requesting copies of the manuscript, but also quite controversial, with some communities limiting its study or banning it altogether.


Tzedakah [tsedaˈka] or Ṣ'daqah [sˤəðaːˈqaː] in Classical Hebrew (Hebrew: צדקה‎) (Arabic : A-Sadaqah الصدقة ), is a Hebrew word literally meaning "justice" or "righteousness", but commonly used to signify charity Notably, this concept of "charity" is different from the modern Western understanding of "charity", which is typically understood as a spontaneous act of goodwill and a marker of generosity, as tzedakah is rather an ethical obligation. In Judaism, tzedakah refers to the religious obligation to do what is right and just, which Judaism emphasizes is an important part of living a spiritual life. Thus, unlike voluntary philanthropy, tzedakah is seen as a religious obligation that must be performed regardless of one's financial standing, and is considered mandatory even for those of limited financial means. More broadly, tzedakah is considered to be one of the three main acts that can positively influence an unfavorable heavenly decree.

The word tzedakah is based on the Hebrew (צדק, Tzedek) meaning righteousness, fairness or justice, and is related to the Hebrew word Tzadik, meaning righteous as an adjective (or righteous individual as a noun in the form of a substantive). Although the word appears 157 times in the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible, typically in relation to "righteousness" per se, its use as a term for "charity" in the above sense is an adaptation of Rabbinic Judaism in Talmudic times.

In the Middle Ages, Maimonides conceived of an eight-level hierarchy of tzedakah, where the highest form is to give a gift, loan, or partnership that will result in the recipient becoming self-sufficient, instead of living upon others; in his view, the second highest form of tzedakah is to give donations anonymously to unknown recipients.

Full text of Maimonides on the Messianic Era
Maimonides on the Messianic Era

Mishnah Commentary
Tractate Sanhedrin
Pereḳ Ḥeleḳ (Chapter 10)
"… 'The days of the Messiah' (i.e., the Messianic Era) is a timeframe in which the kingdom shall return to Israel, and they (i.e., the people of Israel) will return to the Land of Israel, and the king who shall stand-up will establish the place of his kingdom in Zion, whose name shall be extolled and it will reach unto the ends of the earth, being [even] greater than Solomon's kingdom, and the nations will enter a covenant of peace with him, and all lands shall serve him on account of the abundance of his righteousness, and for the wondrous things that shall be revealed through him; whosoever shall rise-up against him, the Lord will cut him off and deliver him into his hands. All of the Scriptural verses bear witness of him, and of us with him, but there is nothing which exists now that will change, excepting that the kingdom will be given over to Israel; thus have we heard it in the language used by the Sages: 'There is no difference between this world and the days of the Messiah, excepting only the subjugation of kingdoms' (San. 91b). There shall remain in his days, both, the strong and the weak, in comparison to others, only that in those days the people's livelihood will be made much easier for them, insofar that if a man should work any work no matter how short-lived, he will gain much thereby. This is that which they have spoken about, saying: 'In the future, the Land of Israel shall produce sweet-rolls of bread and clothes made of white woollen fabric' (Shab. 30b), seeing that people will say whenever a man finds something ready [and prepared for use] in abundance that so-and-so has found baked bread and a cooked dish, the proof of which being what is written: 'And the sons of the stranger shall be your field workers and vine dressers' (Isa. 61:5). Meaning, a time of ploughing and a time of reaping will be there; Wherefore, it was for this reason that that erudite man who said these things[a] was angered at his disciple when he failed to understand their import and had thought rather that these things should be understood in their plain sense, and he was compelled to answer him in a way that he'd understand, even though that wasn't the proper response [to give him]. The evidence for this, viz., that he didn't give him a truthful answer in accordance with what he learned of the verse, is this: 'Don't answer a foolish man in accordance with his folly' (Proverbs 26:4).

Now the greatest advantage at that time will be that we'll have rest from the subjugation of the wicked kingdom, which prevents us from performing that which God has enjoined unto us to do, while knowledge will be vastly increased, as it says: 'For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lo-rd' (Isa. 11:9). Meanwhile, battles and wars will come to an end, as it says: 'Nation shall not lift up a sword against nation' (Micha 4:3), while all those who will be in those days will attain to great perfection, by which he will merit the world to come. The Messiah will then die [as all men], and his son, and his son's son will rule after him. Now God has already described his death; he says: 'He shall not tire nor be weary, till he establish judgment in the earth: and the isles shall hope for his law' (Isa. 42:4). His kingdom shall continue for a very long time, while the lives of men will also be prolonged; for by the absence of worries and troubles they shall prolong their lives. Neither should it seem strange that his kingdom will continue for thousands of years, inasmuch as the Sages have already said that no matter how noble the things that are collected together, when they are but few that are amassed together, they will fall apart. Nevertheless, we do not desire the days of the Messiah so that our grain and possessions might increase, or so that we can mount horses, or be engaged in revelry of drink and musical instruments, as those who are confused may think. Rather, the prophets fervently desired them and the pious men longed for them because of what shall be there of the ingathering of righteous men, and of proper conduct, and wisdom, and the uprightness of the king and his great wisdom and his drawing nigh unto the Creator, just as it was said of him: 'Thou art my son, [etc.]' (Psalm 2:7), as well as the observance of the entire Law of Moses, without worries and without fear, and without constraint, just as He has promised 'And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD. For they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them' (Jer. 31:33 [34]); 'and I shall put my Law in their heart,' 'and I shall remove the heart of stone from your flesh' (Ezek. 36:26), and there are many similar verses that speak of such matters. It is in this manner [that a man] will acquire the next world with a firm acquisition, while the desired end [of every man] is the world to come, and all that comes before it is [merely] human effort.

Wherefore, he that can perceive the truth has looked at the ultimate purpose of life and has forsaken all other things, whereby He says: 'All of Israel has a portion in the world to come.' Moreover, seeing that this is the desired end and purpose of one's life, it is not fitting that he who wishes to serve [his Maker] out of love should serve Him for the sole intent of attaining the next world, as we have premised earlier, but rather that he may serve Him in the manner that I shall prescribe, viz., that if he has already come to believe that knowledge has been imparted unto the prophets from God, and that by it (i.e., that knowledge) He has revealed to them that the [coveted] virtues are such and such, and the faults are such and such, it behooves him, therefore, by reason of his being a moderate man of reason, to draw near to the virtues and to shun that which is deficient. If he has done this, Lo! He would have completed the mortal chapter [related to his existence], and he is then distinguished from the [brute] beasts; and since he would have become a [more] perfect man, one of the virtues of man is that no hindrance be found that will hinder him from attaining life for his soul in what is his remaining [spiritual] existence through her (i.e., the soul's) [continued] consciousness,[b] and which is the world to come as we have explained.[c] Moreover, it is that which is said: 'Be ye not like a horse, [or] like a mule, which has no understanding; [who must be held back by bit and bridle]' (Psalm 32:9), meaning, the thing that prevents them from idleness and uncontrollable conduct is an external thing like a bit and a bridle. May a man never be like this, but rather, let his soul be what stops him from acting in such a manner, that is to say, his [inner] human form[d] [given to man by God at the hour of Creation] – if it were perfected, it will prevent him from whatever thing that withholds from him perfection (i.e., the betterment of his condition), which things are called deficiencies, but it will spurn him on in whatever is considered wholesome, which things are the virtues. This then is what has become clear unto me from all of their words relating to this noble matter, but things that can be easily misconstrued."[e]


  1. ^ Rabban Gamliel; see: Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 30b
  2. ^ The Judeo-Arabic word used by Maimonides is מעלומהא, or "that which is known by her (i.e., by the soul)," meaning, the ens intelligibile. Some translate this word as "perceived intellect."
  3. ^ See: Mishne Torah (Hil. Teshuvah, chapter 8), for more on what is meant by "the world to come."
  4. ^ See: Mishne Torah (Hil. Yesodei HaTorah 4:8[14]) for a discussion on the soul. Elsewhere, in Hil. Teshuvah 8:3, Maimonides writes: "Every 'soul' that is mentioned here in this context isn't the [animated] spirit that stands in need of a body, but rather the 'form of the soul,' which is the knowledge [attained by the mind] with which one comprehends the Creator according to its ability." See also the Guide for the Perplexed, part iii, the last chapter, on the fourth kind of perfection.
  5. ^ This last addition, "but things that can be easily misconstrued," is written in Maimonides's original Judeo-Arabic text, but was omitted in the translated printed texts. Rabbi Yosef Qafih points out the omission, and inserts it in his new translation. See: Mishnah, with Commentary of Maimonides (ed. Yosef Qafih), vol. 2, Rav Kook Institute, Jerusalem 1963 (Hebrew)
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