18th-century portrait of Maimonides, from the Thesaurus antiquitatum sacrarum by Blaisio Ugolino
Córdoba, Almoravid Empire (present-day Spain)
|Died||12 December 1204 (aged 69)
Fostat, Egypt, or Cairo, Egypt
|School||Jewish philosophy, Jewish law, Jewish ethics|
Mosheh ben Maimon (משה בן מימון), called Moses Maimonides (pron.: // my-MON-i-deez) and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn (Arabic: موسى بن ميمون), or RaMBaM (רמב"ם – Hebrew acronym for "Rabbi Mosheh Ben Maimon"), was a preeminent medieval Spanish, Sephardic Jewish philosopher and one of the most prolific and influential Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages. He was born in Córdoba (present-day Spain), Almoravid Empire on Passover Eve, 1135, and died in Egypt on December 12, 1204. He was a rabbi, physician, and philosopher in Morocco and Egypt.
Although his writings on Jewish law and ethics were met with acclaim and gratitude from most Jews, even as far off as Iraq and Yemen, and he rose to be the revered head of the Jewish community in Egypt, there were also vociferous critics of some of his writings, particularly in Spain. Nevertheless, he was posthumously acknowledged to be one of the foremost rabbinical arbiters and philosophers in Jewish history, his copious work comprising a cornerstone of Jewish scholarship. His fourteen-volume Mishneh Torah still carries significant canonical authority as a codification of Talmudic law. In the Yeshiva world he is known as "haNesher haGadol" (the great eagle) in recognition of his outstanding status as a bona fide exponent of the Oral Torah.
His full Arabic name is Abū ʿImrān Mūsā bin Maimūn bin ʿUbaidallāh al-Qurṭubī ( ابو عمران موسى بن ميمون بن عبد الله القرطبي ) or Mūsā bin Maymūn (Arabic: موسى ابن ميمون) for short. His full Hebrew name is Rabbi Mosheh ben Maimon (Hebrew: רבי משה בן מימון), whose acronym forms "Rambam" (רמב"ם). In Latin, the Hebrew "ben" (son of) becomes the Greek−style suffix "-ides" to form "Moses Maimonides".
Further information: History of the Jewish people - Arab Rule (641–1250)
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 the exact sciences and philosophy. He read those Greek philosophers accessible in Arabic translations, and was deeply immersed in the sciences and learning of Islamic culture. Though the Gaonic tradition, especially in its North African version, formed the basis of his legal thought, some scholars have argued recently that Muslim law, including Almohad legal thought, also had a substantial impact. Maimonides was not known as a supporter of mysticism, although a strong intellectualistic type of mysticism has been discerned in his philosophy. He voiced opposition to poetry, the best of which he declared as false, since it was founded on pure invention. 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. Maimonides studied Torah under his father Maimon, who had in turn studied under Rabbi Joseph ibn Migash – a student of Isaac Alfasi.
During the reign of Almoravids, the position of the Jews was apparently free of significant abuses, but after another Berber dynasty, Almohads, conquered Córdoba in 1148 they abolished the dhimma status (i.e. state protection of life and wealth) in some of their territories. The loss of this protected status threatened the Jewish and Christian communities with the choice of conversion to Islam, death, or exile. However, the historical records of abuses against Jews in the immediate post-1148 period are subject to different interpretations. Many Jews were forced to convert, but due to suspicion by the authorities of fake conversions the new converts were also forced to wear identifying clothing. Maimonides's family, along with most other Jews, chose exile. Some say, though, that it is probable Maimonides feigned a conversion to Islam before escaping. This forced conversion was ruled legally invalid under Islamic law when brought up by a rival in Egypt. For the next ten years Maimonides moved about in southern Spain, eventually settled in Fes in Morocco, the capital of the Almohads, 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.
Following this sojourn in Morocco, together with two sons, he sojourned in the Holy Land, before settling in Fostat, Egypt around 1168. While in Cairo he studied in Yeshiva attached to a small synagogue that bears his name. 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 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. Following this triumph the Maimonides family, hoping to increase their wealth, gave their savings to the youngest son David, a merchant. Maimonides directed him 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, and, against his brother's wishes, boarded a ship for India since great wealth was to be found in the East. Before he could reach his destination though, David drowned at sea sometime between 1169–1170. 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.
Subsequently, he was appointed the Nagid of the Egyptian Jewish community around 1171. Arabist S.D. Goitein believes the leadership he displayed during the ransoming of the Crusader captives led to this appointment. With the loss of the family funds tied up in David's business venture, Maimonides was constrained to assume the vocation of physician, for which he was to become famous, having been trained in medicine in both Córdoba and in Fes. 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. In his writings, he described many conditions including asthma, diabetes, hepatitis, and pneumonia, and emphasized moderation and a healthy lifestyle. 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, however, he did not blindly accept authority but used his own observation and experience. 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. Maimonides displayed in his interactions with patients attributes that today would be called intercultural awareness and respect for the patient's autonomy. Although he frequently wrote of his longing for solitude in order to come closer to God and to extend his reflections – elements considered essential to the prophetic experience itself in his philosophy -he gave over almost all his time to caring for others. 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." As he goes on to say in this letter, even on the Sabbath he would receive members of the community. It is remarkable that despite all this he managed to fit in the composition of massive treatises, including not only medical and other scientific studies but some of the most systematically thought-through and influential treatises on halachah (Rabbinic law) and Jewish philosophy of the Middle Ages. It has even been suggested that his "incessant travail" undermined his own health and brought about his death at 69. His Rabbinic writings are still fundamental and unparalleled resources for religious Jews today.
Maimonides died on December 12, 1204 (20th of Tevet 4965 ) in Fustat, and 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. 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 is, however, not without controversy, for in the Jewish Cairene community a tradition holds that he remained buried in Egypt.
Maimonides and his wife, the daughter of one Mishael ben Yeshayahu Halevi, had one child that survived into adult hood, 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.
Maimonides's Mishneh Torah is considered by traditionalist 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. 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. 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. The intensity of debate spurred Catholic Church interventions against "heresy" and even a general confiscation of Rabbinic texts and in reaction, the defeat of the more radical interpretations of Maimonides and at least amongst Ashkenazi Jews, a tendency not so much to repudiate as simply to ignore the specifically philosophical writings and to stress instead the Rabbinic and halachic writings; even these writings often included considerable philosophical chapters or discussions in support of halachic observance, as David Hartman observes Maimonides made clear "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]" and so Maimonidean thought continues to influence traditionally observant Jews.
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 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 also had a fundamental influence on the great Church theologian Saint Thomas Aquinas. There are explicit references to Maimonides in several of Aquinas's works, including the Commentary on the Sentences.
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:
Maimonides compiled the principles from various Talmudic sources. 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 have become widely held; today, Orthodox Judaism holds these beliefs to be obligatory. Two poetic restatements of these principles (Ani Ma'amin and Yigdal) eventually became canonized in the "Siddur" (Jewish prayer book).
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 (two later codes), it met initially with much opposition. 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, 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."
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.
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. Beyond scriptural similarities, Michael Pollak comments the Jews' Pentateuch was divided into 53 sections according to the Persian style. 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.
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):
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Through the Guide for the Perplexed ( which was initially written in Arabic as Delalatul Ha'yreen) 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. He was also influenced by Asaph ha-Jehoudi, who was the first Hebrew medical writer.
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.
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.
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. In his Guide for the Perplexed, Maimonides writes that all bad that exists within human beings are a matter of the individual’s attributes, but all of the merits of humanity are due to their general characteristics (Guide 3;8). He also writes 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. Maimonides explains evil by saying that one who created something by causing its opposite not to exist is not the same as creating something that exists. He applies this principle to evil saying that evil is merely the absence of good, so God didn’t create a thing called evil, rather God created good and evil is something that exists where good is absent (Guide 3;10). God therefore created only the good things and not the bad things – the bad things come secondarily. Maimonides also contests the common view that evil outweighs good in the world by saying that if you look at some individual cases this may be so, but if you look at the whole universe, good is significantly more common than evil (Guide 3;12). He reasons this because man is very lowly compared to the rest of the universe and that when people see mostly evil, they are focused only on themselves and not taking into account the entirety of the universe which is overwhelmingly good since it contains all of life and all of the heavens.
Maimonides also believes that there are three types of evil in the world; evil caused by nature, evil that people bring upon others and evil brought upon oneself (Guide 3;12). The first type of evil Maimonides reconciles as being very rare but at the same time, necessary for the survival of the species – if man does not change and old generations do not die to make space for new generations, then man cannot exist in its ultimate form. 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 are the source of most of the ills of the world, they are mostly 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.
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 Jewish views of astrology)
In "Guide for the Perplexed" Book III, Chapter 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.
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".
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.
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 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. The Prayer appeared first in print in 1793 and has been attributed to Marcus Herz, a German physician, pupil of Immanuel Kant.
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 immensely important to philosophers such as Leo Strauss; and his views on the importance of humility have been taken up by modern humanist philosophers, such as Peter Singer. 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.
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, 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. 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. Rambam Hospital in Haifa, Israel, is named for him.
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:
Until very recently, it was believed that Maimonides wrote a Treatise on logic (Makalah fi-sina'at al-mantik in Arabic) in his twenties or even in his teen years. This is not the case. Maimonides was not the author at all. The work illustrates the essentials of Aristotelian logic to be found in the teachings of the great Arabic philosophers such as Avicenna and, above all, Al-Farabi, "the Second Master" to employ Maimonides' words, 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 Alfarabi's works on logic. In the Hebrew versions, the Treatise is called The words of Logic which happily describe the matter of the work. The Pseudo-Maimonides explains to the honest man, 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. Although Pseudo-Maimonides starts from the lexical items and produces a sort of lexicon, the Treatise is an organised work in which the chapters succeed each other rationally. 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, Pseudo-Maimonides carefully draws up the list of words studied.
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