Rambam: Wikis

Advertisements

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

(Redirected to Maimonides article)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Moses Maimonides

Commonly used image indicating one artist's conception of Maimonides's appearance
Full name Moses Maimonides
Born 1137 or 1138
Córdoba, Spain
Died 12 December 1204 (aged 67–68)
Fostat, Egypt or Cairo, Egypt[1]
Era Medieval Philosophy
Region Arab Mediterranean
School Jewish philosophy, Jewish law, Jewish ethics
Signature

Maimonides was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher, one of the greatest Torah scholars of the Middle Ages. He is also known by the names Moses Maimonides, Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon or the acronym the Rambam (Hebrew: רבי משה בן מימון‎; Hebrew acronym: רמב"ם; Arabic: موسى ابن ميمونMūsā ibn Maymūn, short for ‏ أبو عمران موسى بن عبيد الله ميمون القرطبي Abū ʿImrān Mūsā bin ʿUbaidallāh Maimūn al-Qurṭubī).

He was born in Córdoba, Spain, in 1137 or 1138, and died in Egypt on 20th Tevet, December 12, 1204.[6]

He worked as a rabbi, physician, and philosopher in Spain, Morocco and Egypt. With the contemporary Muslim sage Averroes, he promoted and developed the philosophical tradition of Aristotle, which gave both men prominent and controversial influence in the West, where Aristotelian thought had been lost for centuries. Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas were notable Western readers of Maimonides.

One of the central tenets of Maimonides's philosophy is the impossibilty for truths arrived at by human intellect to contradict those revealed by God. Maimonides held to a strictly apophatic theology in which only negative statements toward a description of God may be considered correct. Thus, one does not say "God is One", but rather, "God is not multiple".[7]

Although his writings on Jewish law and ethics met with opposition during his life, he was posthumously acknowledged to be one of the foremost rabbinical arbiters and philosophers in Jewish history, his copious work a cornerstone of Jewish scholarship, His fourteen-volume Mishneh Torah still carries canonical authority as a codification of Talmudic law.

Contents

Name

Maimonides's full Hebrew name was Moshe ben Maimon (Hebrew: משה בן מימון‎) and his Arabic name was ʼAbū ʻImrān Mūsā bin Maymūn ibn ʻAbdallāh al-Qurtubiyy al-ʼIsrāʼīliyy (أبو عمران موسى بن ميمون بن عبد الله القرطبي الإسرائيلي ). However, he is most commonly known by his Greek name, Moses Maimonides (Μωυσής Μαϊμονίδης). All of these names literally mean "Moses, son of Maimon." Several Jewish works call him Maimoni (מימוני). However, most Jewish works refer to him by the Hebrew acronym of his title and name—רבי משה בן מימון (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon‎)—thus, among Jews he is known as רמב"ם (the Rambam.)

Biography

Maimonides was born during what some scholars consider to be the end of the golden age of Jewish culture in Spain, after the first centuries of the Moorish rule. At an early age, he developed an interest in the exact sciences and philosophy. In addition to reading the works of Muslim scholars, he also read those of the Greek philosophers made accessible through Arabic translations. Maimonides was not known as a supporter of mysticism. He voiced opposition to poetry, the best of which he declared as false, since it was founded on pure invention — and this too in a land which had produced such noble expressions of the Hebrew and Arabic muse. This Sage, who was revered for his saintly personality as well as for his writings, led an unquiet life, and wrote many of his works while travelling or in temporary accommodation.[8] 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

The Almohades from Africa conquered Córdoba in 1148, and threatened the Jewish community with the choice of conversion to Islam, death, or exile.[8] Maimonides's family, along with most other Jews, chose exile. For the next ten years they moved about in southern Spain, avoiding the conquering Almohades, but eventually settled in Fez in Morocco, where he studied at the University of Al-Karaouine. During this time, he composed his acclaimed commentary on the Mishnah in the years 1166–1168.[9]

Following this sojourn in Morocco, he and his family briefly lived in the Holy Land, before settling in Fostat, Egypt around 1168.[10] 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 himself and his descendants. Maimonides shortly thereafter became instrumental in helping rescue Jews taken captive during 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.[11] Following this triumph, the Maimonides family gave their savings to the youngest son David, a merchant, in the hopes of expanding their wealth. Maimonides directed him to procure goods only at the Sudanese port of Aydhab, but, after a long arduous trip through the desert, David did not like the goods offered in the port city. So he boarded a ship to India against his brother's wishes since great wealth was to be found in the East.[12] Sadly, David drowned at sea sometime between 1169–1170 before he could make it to India. The death of his brother caused Maimonides to become sick with grief. In a letter discovered in the Cairo Geniza, he later explained:

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, 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.[13]

Following his recovery, he was appointed the Nagid of the Egyptian Jewish community around 1171.[10] Arabist S.D. Goitein believes the leadership he displayed during the ransoming of the Crusader captives led to this appointment.[14] But since the Maimonides family had their savings tied up in David's business venture, when he drowned, all of that money was lost. This forced Maimonides to take up his famous vocation as a physician. Maimonides was trained as a physician in Cordoba and in Fez. He gained widespread recognition and became a court physician to the Grand Vezier Alfadil, then to Sultan Saladin, after whose death he remained a physician to the royal family.[15] In his writings he described many conditions including asthma, diabetes, hepatitis, and pneumonia, and emphasized moderation and a healthy life style.[16] His treatises became influential for generations of physicians. He was knowledgeable about Greek and Persian medicine, and followed the principles of humorism in the tradition of Galen, however, he did not blindly accept authority but used his own observation and experience.[16] Frank, however, indicates that in his medical writings he sought not to explore new ideas but to interpret works of authorities so that they could become acceptable.[15] Maimonides displayed in his interactions with patients attributes that today would be called intercultural awareness and respect for the patient's autonomy.[17] In a famous letter, he 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."[18]

Maimonides died on the 20th of Tevet in Fostat, Egypt where it is believed that he was shortly buried[19] before being reinterred in Tiberias, a town on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, Lower Galilee, Israel. However the location of Maimonides grave is not without controversy and in the Jewish Cairene community there is tradition that maintains that his grave has remained in Egypt.[20]

Maimonides and his wife, the daughter of one Mishael ben Yeshayahu Halevi, had one child, Avraham, who was recognized as a great scholar, and who succeeded him as Nagid and as court physician at the age of eighteen. He greatly honored the memory of his father, and throughout his career 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.

He is widely respected in Spain and a statue of him was erected in Córdoba in the only synagogue in that city which escaped destruction; although no longer functioning as a Jewish house of worship, it is open to the public.

Influence

The title page of The Guide for the Perplexed

Maimonides was one of the most influential figures in medieval Jewish philosophy. A popular medieval saying that also served as his epitaph states, From Moshe (of the Torah) to Moshe (Maimonides) there was none like Moshe.

Radical Jewish scholars in the centuries that followed can be characterised as "Maimonideans" or "anti-Maimonideans." Moderate scholars were eclectics who largely accepted Maimonides's Aristotelian world-view, but rejected those elements of it which they considered to contradict the religious tradition. Such eclecticism reached its height in the 14th–15th centuries.

The most rigorous medieval critique of Maimonides is Hasdai Crescas' Or Adonai. Crescas bucked the eclectic trend, by demolishing the certainty of the Aristotelian world-view, not only in religious matters, but even 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 translation of Crescas was produced by Harry Austryn Wolfson of Harvard University, in 1929.

Maimonides also had an important influence on the great Church theologian Saint Thomas Aquinas.[21] There are explicit references to Maimonides in several of Aquinas's works, including the Commentary on the Sentences.

The 13 principles of faith

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

  1. The existence of God
  2. God's unity
  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. God's law given on Mount Sinai
  9. The immutability of the Torah as God's Law
  10. God's foreknowledge of human actions
  11. Reward of good and retribution of evil
  12. The coming of the Jewish Messiah
  13. The resurrection of the dead

These principles were controversial when first proposed, evoking criticism by Rabbi Hasdai Crescas and Rabbi Joseph Albo, and were effectively ignored by much of the Jewish community for the next few centuries. ("Dogma in Medieval Jewish Thought," Menachem Kellner). However, these principles became widely held; today, Orthodox Judaism holds these beliefs to be obligatory.[citation needed] Two poetic restatements of these principles (Ani Ma'amin and Yigdal) eventually became canonized in the "siddur" (Jewish prayer book).

Legal works

A recent newly corrected version of Mishneh Torah, Maimonides's main work of Halakha

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).

While Mishneh Torah is now considered the fore-runner of the Arbaah Turim and the Shulchan Aruch[citation needed] (two later codes), it met initially with much opposition[citation needed]. There were two main reasons for this opposition. Firstly, Maimonides had refrained from adding references to his work for the sake of brevity; secondly, in the introduction, he gave the impression of wanting to "cut out" study of the Talmud,[22] to arrive at a conclusion in Jewish law, although Maimonides himself 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. However, it was 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."[23]

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.[24]

Scholars specializing in the study of the history and subculture of Judaism in premodern China (Sino-Judaica) have noted this work has surprising similarities with the liturgy of the Kaifeng Jews, descendants of Persian Merchants who settled in the Middle Kingdom during the early Song Dynasty.[25] Beyond scriptural similarities, Michael Pollak comments the Jews' Pentateuch was divided into 53 sections according to the Persian style.[26] 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.[27]

Philosophy

Through the Guide for the Perplexed 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 himself 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.

Advertisements

Negative theology

The principle, which inspired his philosophical activity, was identical with the 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. In some important points, however, he departed from the teaching of Aristotle; for instance, he rejected the Aristotelian doctrine that God's provident care extends only to humanity, and not to the individual.

Maimonides was led by his admiration for the neo-Platonic commentators to maintain many doctrines which the Scholastics could 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; all we can safely say is 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."

The Scholastics agreed with him that no predicate is adequate to express the nature of God; but they did not go so far as to say that no term can be applied to God in the affirmative sense. They admitted that while "eternal," "omnipotent," etc., as we apply them to God, are inadequate, at the same time we may say "God is eternal" etc., and need not stop, as Maimonides did, with the negative "God is not not-eternal," etc. In essence what Maimonides wanted to express is that when people give God anthropomorphic qualities they do not explain anything more of what God is, because we cannot know anything of the essence of God.

Maimonides' use of apophatic theology is not unique to this time period or to Judaism. For example, Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite and Maximus the Confessor, Eastern Christian theologians, developed apophatic theology for Christianity nearly 900 years earlier. See Negative theology for uses in other religions.

Prophecy

He agrees with "the philosophers" in teaching that, man's intelligence being one in the series of intelligences emanating from God, the prophet must, by study and meditation, lift himself up to the degree of perfection required in the prophetic state. But here, he invokes the authority of "the Law," which teaches that, after that perfection is reached, there is required the "free acts of God," before the man actually becomes a prophet.

The problem of evil

Maimonides wrote on theodicy (the philosophical attempt to reconcile the existence of a God with the existence of evil in the world). He took the premise that an omnipotent and good God exists. He adopts the Aristotelian view that defines evil as the lack of, or the reduced presence of a God, as exhibited by those who exercise the free choice of rejecting belief.

Astrology

Maimonides answered an inquiry concerning astrology, addressed to him from Marseille. 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. The supposition that the fate of a man could be dependent upon the constellations is ridiculed by him; he argues that such a theory would rob life of purpose, and would make man a slave of destiny. (See also fatalism, predestination.)

True beliefs versus necessary beliefs

In "Guide for the Perplexed" Book III, Chapter 28,[28] Maimonides explicitly 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 actually 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 sinning.

Resurrection, acquired immortality, and the afterlife

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 even from death itself. Man, therefore is in a position not only to work out his own salvation and immortality.

The resemblance between this doctrine and Spinoza's doctrine of immortality is so striking as to warrant the hypothesis that there is a causal dependence of the latter on the earlier doctrine. The differences between the two Jewish thinkers are, however, as remarkable as the resemblance. While 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, 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.

Religious Jews not only believed in immortality in some spiritual sense, but most believed that there would at some point in the future be 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. This prompted hostile criticism from the rabbis of his day, and sparked a controversy over his true views.

Rabbinic works usually refer to this afterlife as "Olam Haba" (the World to Come). Some rabbinic works use this phrase to refer to a messianic era, an era of history right here on Earth; in other rabbinic works this phrase refers to a purely spiritual realm. It was during Maimonides's lifetime that this lack of agreement flared into a full-blown controversy, with Maimonides charged as a heretic by some Jewish leaders.

Some Jews at this time taught that Judaism did not require a belief in the physical resurrection of the dead, as the afterlife would be a purely spiritual realm. They used Maimonides's works on this subject to back up their position. In return, their opponents claimed that this was outright heresy; for them the afterlife was right here on Earth, where God would raise dead bodies from the grave so that the resurrected could live eternally. Maimonides was brought into this dispute by both sides, as the first group stated that his writings agreed with them, and the second group portrayed him as a heretic for writing that the afterlife is for the immaterial spirit alone. Eventually, Maimonides felt pressured to write a treatise on the subject, the "Ma'amar Tehiyyat Hametim" "The Treatise on Resurrection."

Chapter two of the treatise on resurrection refers to those who believe that the world to come involves physically resurrected bodies. Maimonides refers to one with such beliefs, as being an "utter fool" whose belief is "folly".

If one of the multitude refuses to believe [that angels are incorporeal] and prefers to believe that angels have bodies and even that they eat, since it is written (Genesis 18:8) 'they ate', or that those who exist in the World to Come will also have bodies—we won't hold it against him or consider him a heretic, and we will not distance ourselves from him. May there not be many who profess this folly, and let us hope that he will go no farther than this in his folly and believe that the Creator is corporeal.

However, Maimonides also writes that those who claimed that he altogether believed the verses of the Hebrew Bible referring to the resurrection were only allegorical were spreading falsehoods and "revolting" statements. Maimonides asserts that belief in resurrection is a fundamental truth of Judaism about which there is no disagreement, and that it is not permissible for a Jew to support anyone who believes differently. He cites Daniel 12:2 and 12:13 as definitive proofs of physical resurrection of the dead when they state "many of them that sleep in the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life and some to reproaches and everlasting abhorrence" and "But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days."

While these two positions may be seen as in contradiction (non-corporeal eternal life, versus a bodily resurrection), Maimonides resolves 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.[29]

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.

He writes "It appears to us on the basis of these verses (Daniel 12:2,13) that those people who will return to those bodies will eat, drink, copulate, beget, and die after a very long life, like the lives of those who will live in the Days of the Messiah." Maimonides thus disassociated the resurrection of the dead from both the World to Come and the Messianic era.

In his time, many Jews believed that the physical resurrection was identical to the world to come; thus denial of a permanent and universal resurrection was considered tantamount to denying the words of the Talmudic sages. However, instead of denying the resurrection, or maintaining the current dogma, Maimonides posited a third way: That resurrection had nothing to do with the messianic era (here in this world) or with Olam Haba (עולם הבא) (the purely spiritual afterlife). Rather, he considered resurrection to be a miracle that the book of Daniel predicted; thus at some point in time we could expect some instances of resurrection to occur temporarily, which would have no place in the final eternal life of the righteous.

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.[15] The Prayer appeared first in print in 1793 and has been attributed to Marcus Herz, a German physician, pupil of Immanual Kant.[30]

Maimonides and the Modernists

Maimonides remains the most widely debated Jewish thinker 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 immensely important to philosophers such as Leo Strauss; and his views on the importance of humility have been taken up by modern humanist philosophers, like Peter Singer and Iain King. In academia, particularly within the area of Jewish Studies, the teaching of Maimonides has been dominated by traditional, generally Orthodox scholars, who place a very strong emphasis on Maimonides as a rationalist. The result of this is many sides of Maimonides's thought, for example his opposition to anthropocentrism, have been obviated. There is some movement in postmodern circles, e.g. within the discourse of ecotheology, to claim Maimonides for other purposes. Maimonides's reconciliation of the philosophical and the traditional has given his legacy an extremely diverse and dynamic quality.

Tributes and memorials

Plaque of Maimonides at Rambam Medical Center, Haifa

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, the Brauser Maimonides Academy in Hollywood, Florida,[31] 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. To commemorate the 800th anniversary of his death, Harvard University issued a memorial volume. [32] 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, Fez and Tiberias.[33] Rambam Hospital in Haifa, Israel, is named for him.

Works and bibliography

Manuscript page by Maimonides. Judeo-Arabic language in Hebrew letters.

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 Judaism texts were:

  • Commentary on the Mishna (Hebrew Pirush Hamishnayot), written in Judeo-Arabic. This text was one of the first commentaries of its kind; its introductory sections are widely quoted.
  • Sefer Hamitzvot (trans. The Book of Commandments).
  • 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. The first translation of this work into Hebrew was done by Samuel ibn Tibbon
  • 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).
  • 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.

Medical works

Maimonides wrote ten known medical works in Arabic that have been translated by the Jewish medical ethicist Fred Rosner into contemporary English.[16]

  • Extracts from Galen, or The Art of Cure, is essentially an extract of Galen's extensive writings.
  • Commentary on the Aphorisms of Hippocrates is interspersed with his own views.
  • Medical Aphorisms of Moses titled Fusul Musa in Arabic ("Chapters of Moses," Pirkei Moshe in Hebrew) contains 1500 aphorisms and many medical conditions are described.
  • Treatise on Hemorrhoids discusses also digestion and food.
  • Treatise on Cohabitation contains recipes as aphrodisiacs and anti-aphrodisiacs.
  • Treatise on Asthma discusses climates and diets and their effect on asthma and emphasizes the need for clean air.
  • Treatise on Poisons and Their Antidotes is an early toxicology textbook that remained popular for centuries.
  • Regimen of Health 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 represents a pharmacopeia with 405 paragraphs with the names of drugs in Arabic, Greek, Syrian, Persian, Berber, and Spanish.

See also

References

  1. ^ Goldin, Hyman E. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch - Code of Jewish Law, Forward to the New Edition. (New York: Hebrew Publishing Company, 1961)
  2. ^ "H-Net". http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.cgi?path=227091077594594. 
  3. ^ "Maimonides Islamic Influences". Plato. Stanford. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/maimonides-islamic/. 
  4. ^ Moses (1138-1204)
  5. ^ "Isaac Newton: “Judaic monotheist of the school of Maimonides”". Achgut.com. 2007-06-19. http://www.achgut.com/dadgdx/index.php/dadgd/article/issac_newton_judaic_monotheist_of_the_school_of_maimonides/. Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  6. ^ Davidson 2005, pp. 7-9, 18. If the traditional birth date of 14 Nisan is not correct, then a date in 1136 is also possible.
  7. ^ Moreh Nevukhim 1:58
  8. ^ a b 1954 Encyclopedia Americana, vol. 18, p. 140.
  9. ^ 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 it was actually published
  10. ^ a b Goitein, S.D. Letters of Medieval Jewish Traders. Princeton University Press, 1973 (ISBN 0-691-05212-3), p. 208
  11. ^ 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
  12. ^ The "India Trade" (a term devised by the Arabist S.D. Goitein) was a highly lucrative business venture where Jewish merchants from Egypt, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East would import and export 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.
  13. ^ Goitein, Letters of Medieval Jewish Traders, p. 207
  14. ^ Cohen, Poverty and Charity in the Jewish Community of Medieval Egypt, p. 115
  15. ^ a b c Julia Bess Frank (1981). "Moses Maimonides: Rabbi of Medicine" (PDF). The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine 54 (1): 79–88. PMID 7018097. PMC 2595894. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/picrender.fcgi?artid=2595894&blobtype=pdf. 
  16. ^ a b c Fred Rosner (2002). "The Life o Moses Maimonides, a Prominent Medieval Physician". Einstein Quart J Biol Med 19 (3): 125–128. http://www.aecom.yu.edu/uploadedFiles/EJBM/19Rosner125.pdf. 
  17. ^ Gesundheit B, Or R, Gamliel C, Rosner F, Steinberg A (April 2008). "Treatment of depression by Maimonides (1138–1204):Rabbi, Physician, and Philosopher". Am J Psychiatry 165 (4): 425–428. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2007.07101575. PMID 18381913. http://www.jewishmedicalethics.org/data/treatment%20of%20depression%20by%20maimonides%20rabbi%20physician%20and%20philosopher.pdf. 
  18. ^ Responsa Pe’er HaDor, 143.
  19. ^ [The Life of Maimonides http://www.jnul.huji.ac.il/v-exhibitions/rambam/eng/life.html] Jewish National and University Library
  20. ^ [The End of the Exodus from Egypt http://www.hsje.org/The%20end%20of%20the%20Exodus%20from%20Egypt.pdf] HaAretz Daily Newspaper Israel: Amiram Barkat, April 21, 2005
  21. ^ Rubio, Mercedes (2006). Aquinas and maimonides on the possibility of the knowledge of god. Springer-Verlag. doi:10.1007/1-4020-4747-9_2. ISBN 978-1-4020-4720-6. 
  22. ^ Last section of Maimonides's Introduction to Mishneh Torah
  23. ^ Avkat Rochel ch. 32PDF
  24. ^ Moses Maimonides, The Commandments, Neg. Comm. 290, at 269–71 (Charles B. Chavel trans., 1967).
  25. ^ Leslie, Donald. The Survival of the Chinese Jews; The Jewish Community of Kaifeng. Tʻoung pao, 10. Leiden: Brill, 1972, p. 157
  26. ^ Pollak, Michael. Mandarins, Jews, and Missionaries: The Jewish Experience in the Chinese Empire. The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1980, p. 413
  27. ^ Pollak, Mandarins, Jews, and Missionaries, pp. 297-298
  28. ^ "Guide for the Perplexed, on". Sacred-texts.com. http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/gfp/gfp164.htm. Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  29. ^ Commentary on the Mishna, Avot 5:6
  30. ^ "Oath and Prayer of Maimonides". Library.dal.ca. http://www.library.dal.ca/kellogg/Bioethics/codes/maimonides.htm. Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  31. ^ "News for South Florida's Jewish Community — Florida Jewish Journal". Floridajewishnews.com. http://www.floridajewishnews.com/site/a/major_grant_awarded_to_maimonides/. Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  32. ^ "Harvard University Press: Maimonides after 800 Years : Essays on Maimonides and his Influence by Jay M. Harris". Hup.harvard.edu. http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog/HARMAM.html. Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  33. ^ http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1209627041328&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Further reading

  • Abraham Joshua Heschel, Maimonides (a biography)
  • Marvin Fox Interpreting Maimonides, Univ. of Chicago Press 1990.
  • Julius Guttman, Philosophies of Judaism Translated by David Silverman, JPS, 1964
  • Maimonides' Principles: The Fundamentals of Jewish Faith, in "The Aryeh Kaplan Anthology, Volume I," Mesorah Publications 1994
  • Dogma in Medieval Jewish Thought, Menachem Kellner, Oxford University press, 1986
  • Maimonides Thirteen Principles: The Last Word in Jewish Theology? Marc. B. Shapiro, The Torah U-Maddah Journal, Vol. 4, 1993, Yeshiva University
  • A History of Jewish Philosophy Isaac Husik, Dover Publications, Inc., 2002. Originally published in 1941 by the Jewish Publication of America, Philadelphia, pp. 236–311
  • Persecution and the Art of Writing, Leo Strauss, University of Chicago Press, 1988 reprint
  • "How to Begin to Study the Guide," Leo Strauss, from The Guide of the Perplexed, Vol. 1, Maimonides, translated from the Arabic by Shlomo Pines, University of Chicago Press, 1974
  • Rabbi Yaakov Feldman, Shemonah Perakim: The Eight Chapters of the Rambam, Targum Press, 2008.
  • Joel L. Kraemer, "Maimonides: The Life and World of One of Civilization's Greatest Minds", Doubleday, 2008.
  • Marc B. Shapiro, Studies in Maimonides and His Interpreters (Scranton (PA), University of Scranton Press, 2008), 200 pp.
  • Herbert A. Davidson, Moses Maimonides: The Man and his Works, OUP 2005

External links

About Maimonides

Maimonides's Works

Texts by Maimonides


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Maimonides article)

From Wikiquote

Accept the truth from whatever source it comes.

Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (Hebrew: רבי משה בן מיימון; Arabic: موسى بن ميمون بن عبد الله القرطبي الإسرائيلي / Mussa bin Maimun ibn Abdallah al-Kurtubi al-Israili; March 30, 1135 – December 13, 1204), commonly known by his Greek name (Moses) Maimonides, was a Jewish rabbi, physician, and philosopher. He was born in Spain, but spent most of his life in Egypt. His works ranged from a commentary on the Mishnah to his Code of Law (summarising the whole of Jewish law) and the philosophical work, the Guide for the Perplexed.

Contents

Sourced

Charity is the sign of a righteous man
  • Accept the truth from whatever source it comes.
    • Introduction to the Shemonah Peraqim, as quoted in Truth and Compassion: Essays on Judaism and Religion in Memory of Rabbi Dr. Solomon Frank (1983) Edited by Howard Joseph, Jack Nathan Lightstone, and Michael D. Oppenheim, p. 168
    • Unsourced variant: You must accept the truth from whatever source it comes.
  • It is better and more satisfactory to acquit a thousand guilty persons than to put a single innocent one to death.
    • Moses Maimonides, The Commandments, Neg. Comm. 290, at 269-271 (Charles B. Chavel trans., 1967).
  • We are obligated to be more scrupulous in fulfilling the commandment of charity than any other positive commandment because charity is the sign of a righteous man.
    • As quoted in A Maimonides Reader (1972) by Isadore Twersky, p. 135. A footnote on this page states : tzedekah is translated as both "righteousness" and "charity".
  • When a man reflects on these things, studies all these created beings, from the angels and spheres down to human beings and so on, and realizes the divine wisdom manifested in them all, his love for God will increase, his soul will thirst, his very flesh will yearn to love God. He will be filled with fear and trembling, as he becomes conscious of his lowly condition, poverty, and insignificance, and compares himself with any of the great and holy bodies; still more when he compares himself with any one of the pure forms that are incorporeal and have never had association with any corporeal substance. He will then realize that he is a vessel full of shame, dishonor, and reproach, empty and deficient.
  • One who is in a dying condition is regarded as a living person in all respects. It is not permitted to bind his jaws, to stop up the organs of the lower extremities, or to place metallic or cooling vessels upon his navel in order to prevent swelling. He is not to be rubbed or washed, nor is sand or salt to be put upon him until he expires. He who touches him is guilty of shedding blood. To what may he be compared? To a flickering flame, which is extinguished as soon as one touches it. Whoever closes the eyes of the dying while the soul is about to depart is shedding blood. One should wait a while; perhaps he is only in a swoon.
  • Thus they shall not miss this particular branch of the many branches of the Law and will have no need to roam and ramble about in other books in search of information on matters set forth in this treatise.
    • Mishneh Torah, Book 3, Treatise 8 (Sanctification of the New Moon), closing words

Guide for the Perplexed

(Arabic: Dalalat al-Ḥa'irin دلالة الحائرين Hebrew:מורה נבוכים, translit. Moreh Nevuchim, The Guide for the Perplexed (1904) at Wikisource, as translated by Michael Friedlander.

Introduction

  • I have composed this work neither for the common people, nor for beginners, nor for those who occupy themselves only with the Law as it is handed down without concerning themselves with its principles. The design of this work is rather to promote the true understanding of the real spirit of the Law, to guide those religious persons who, adhering to the Torah, have studied philosophy and are embarrassed by the contradictions between the teachings of philosophy and the literal sense of the Torah.
  • A sensible man should not demand of me, or hope that when we mention a subject, we shall make a complete exposition of it.
  • My object in adopting this arrangement is that the truths should be at one time apparent and at another time concealed. Thus we shall not be in opposition to the Divine Will (from which it is wrong to deviate) which has withheld from the multitude the truths required for the knowledge of God, according to the words, 'The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him (Psalm 25:14)
  • Do not imagine that these most difficult problems can be thoroughly understood by any one of us. This is not the case. At times the truth shines so brilliantly that we perceive it as clear as day. Our nature and habit then draw a veil over our perception, and we return to a darkness almost as dense as before. We are like those who, though beholding frequent flashes of lightning, still find themselves in the thickest darkness of the night. On some the lightning flashes in rapid succession, and they seem to be in continuous light, and their night is as clear as the day. This was the degree of prophetic excellence attained by (Moses) the greatest of prophets, to whom God said," But as for thee, stand thou here by Me" (Deut. v. 31), and of whom it is written" the skin of his face shone," etc. (Exod. xxxiv. 29). [Some perceive the prophetic flash at long intervals; this is the degree of most prophets.] By others only once during the whole night is a flash of lightning perceived. This is the case with those of whom we are informed," They prophesied, and did not prophesy again" (Num. xi. 25). There are some to whom the flashes of lightning appear with varying intervals; others are in the condition of men, whose darkness is illumined not by lightning, but by some kind of crystal or similar stone, or other substances that possess the property of shining during the night; and to them even this small amount of light is not continuous, but now it shines and now it vanishes, as if it were" the flame of the rotating sword."
  • You must know that if a person, who has attained a certain degree of perfection, wishes to impart to others, either orally or in writing, any portion of the knowledge which he has acquired of these subjects, he is utterly unable to be as systematic and explicit as he could be in a science of which the method is well known. The same difficulties which he encountered when investigating the subject for himself will attend him when endeavouring to instruct others: viz., at one time the explanation will appear lucid, at another time, obscure: this property of the subject appears to remain the same both to the advanced scholar and to the beginner. For this reason, great theological scholars gave instruction in all such matters only by means of metaphors and allegories.
  • You are no doubt aware that the Almighty, desiring to lead us to perfection and to improve our state of society, has revealed to us laws which are to regulate our actions. These laws, however, presuppose an advanced state of intellectual culture. We must first form a conception of the Existence of the Creator according to our capabilities; that is, we must have a knowledge of Metaphysics. But this discipline can only be approached after the study of Physics: for the science of Physics borders on Metaphysics, and must even precede it in the course of our studies, as is clear to all who are familiar with these questions.
  • In my larger work, the Mishnab Torah, I have contented myself with briefly stating the principles of our faith and its fundamental truths, together with such hints as approach a clear exposition. In this work, however, I address those who have studied philosophy and have acquired sound knowledge, and who while firm in religious matters are perplexed and bewildered on account of the ambiguous and figurative expressions employed in the holy writings.
  • The key to the understanding and to the full comprehension of all that the Prophets have said is found in the knowledge of the figures, their general ideas, and the meaning of each word they contain.
  • Know that the figures employed by prophets are of two kinds: first, where every word which occurs in the simile represents a certain idea: and secondly, where the simile, as a whole, represents a general idea, but has a great many points which have no reference whatever to that idea: they are simply required to give to the simile its proper form and order, or better to conceal the idea: the simile is therefore continued as far as necessary, according to its literal sense. Consider this well.
  • When I have a difficult subject before me — when I find the road narrow, and can see no other way of teaching a well established truth except by pleasing one intelligent man and displeasing ten thousand fools — I prefer to address myself to the one man, and to take no notice whatever of the condemnation of the multitude; I prefer to extricate that intelligent man from his embarrassment and show him the cause of his perplexity, so that he may attain perfection and be at peace.
Introductory Remarks on Method
  • There are seven causes of inconsistencies and contradictions to be met with in a literary work. The first cause arises from the fact that the author collects the opinions of various men, each differing from the other, but neglects to mention the name of the author of any particular opinion. In such a work contradictions or inconsistencies must occur, since any two statements may belong to two different authors. Second cause: The author holds at first one opinion which he subsequently rejects: in his work., however, both his original and altered views are retained. Third cause: The passages in question are not all to be taken literally: some only are to be understood in their literal sense, while in others figurative language is employed, which includes another meaning besides the literal one: or, in the apparently inconsistent passages, figurative language is employed which, if taken literally, would seem to be contradictories or contraries. Fourth cause: The premises are not identical in both statements, but for certain reasons they are not fully stated in these passages: or two propositions with different subjects which are expressed by the same term without having the difference in meaning pointed out, occur in two passages. The contradiction is therefore only apparent, but there is no contradiction in reality. The fifth cause is traceable to the use of a certain method adopted in teaching and expounding profound problems. Namely, a difficult and obscure theorem must sometimes be mentioned and assumed as known, for the illustration of some elementary and intelligible subject which must be taught beforehand the commencement being always made with the easier thing. The teacher must therefore facilitate, in any manner which he can devise, the explanation of those theorems, which have to be assumed as known, and he must content himself with giving a general though somewhat inaccurate notion on the subject. It is, for the present, explained according to the capacity of the students, that they may comprehend it as far as they are required to understand the subject. Later on, the same subject is thoroughly treated and fully developed in its right place. Sixth cause: The contradiction is not apparent, and only becomes evident through a series of premises. The larger the number of premises necessary to prove the contradiction between the two conclusions, the greater is the chance that it will escape detection, and that the author will not perceive his own inconsistency. Only when from each conclusion, by means of suitable premises, an inference is made, and from the enunciation thus inferred, by means of proper arguments, other conclusions are formed, and after that process has been repeated many times, then it becomes clear that the original conclusions are contradictories or contraries. Even able writers are liable to overlook such inconsistencies. If, however, the contradiction between the original statements can at once be discovered, and the author, while writing the second, does not think of the first, he evinces a greater deficiency, and his words deserve no notice whatever. Seventh cause: Itis sometimes necessary to introduce such metaphysical matter as may partly be disclosed, but must partly be concealed: while, therefore, on one occasion the object which the author has in view may demand that the metaphysical problem be treated as solved in one way, it may be convenient on another occasion to treat it as solved in the opposite way. The author must endeavour, by concealing the fact as much as possible, to prevent the uneducated reader from perceiving the contradiction.
  • Having concluded these introductory remarks I proceed to examine those expressions, to the true meaning of which, as apparent from the context, it is necessary to direct your attention. This book will then be a key admitting to places the gates of which would otherwise be closed. When the gates are opened and men enter, their souls will enjoy repose, their eyes will be gratified, and even their bodies, after all toil and labour, will be refreshed.

Part I

  • Know that for the human mind there are certain objects of perception which are within the scope of its nature and capacity; on the other hand, there are, amongst things which actually exist, certain objects which the mind can in no way and by no means grasp: the gates of perception are dosed against it. Further, there are things of which the mind understands one part, but remains ignorant of the other; and when man is able to comprehend certain things, it does not follow that he must be able to comprehend everything.

Part III

  • If I had omitted setting down something of that which has appeared to me as clear, so that the knowledge would perish when I perish, as is inevitable, I should have considered that conduct as extremely cowardly with regard to you and everyone who is perplexed.
    • Introduction
  • He … who has achieved demonstration, to the extent that it is possible, of everything that may be demonstrated; and who has ascertained in divine matters, to the extent that that is possible, everything that may be ascertained; and who has come close to certainty in those matters in which one can only come close to it …

Misattributed

  • Teach your tongue to say "I do not know" and you will progress.
    • This is actually from the Talmud (Tractate Berachot 4a)

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:
Wikisource
Wikisource has original text related to:
Commons
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

About Maimonides

Texts by Maimonides


Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message