Rambam / MaimonidesYou must accept the truth from whatever source it comes.
–Rambam

The 20th of Tevet (Today, Jan 1) is the Yartziet (anniversary of a death) for Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, also know as Rambam, or Maimonides.

Maimonides was the first person to write a systematic code of all Jewish law, the Mishneh Torah, which he started at the age of twenty three. It was the first time that halacha was made available to the masses, and also included sections on medicine, metaphysics, astronomy, and science, and the Messiah. It infuriated the rabbinic world at the time.

Philosophically, Maimonides was a religious rationalist. He later penned The Guide to the Perplexed, which was not intended for the masses. It addresses philosophical questions such as, the nature and existence of G-d, purpose of creation, G-d and His relation to the universe, human destiny, free will, Divine Providence, Divine Justice, etc. In Rambam’s view, philosophy was reserved only for the intellectual elite who would not be misled by it (somehow I feel like our own Muffti would be proud).

He was one of the few medieval Jewish philosophers who also influenced the non-Jewish world.

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. By science and philosophy, he understood the science and philosophy of Aristotle. 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 is perhaps the only philosopher in the Middle Ages, perhaps even now, who symbolizes a confluence of four cultures: Greco­Roman, Arab, Jewish, and Western.

Rambam “explicitly drew a distinction between “true beliefs”, which were beliefs about God which produced intellectual perfection, and “necessary beliefs”, which were conducive to improving social order.”

His extra curricular activities included serving as physician to the sultan of Egypt, writing numerous books on medicine, and being the leader of Cairo’s Jewish community.

A very cool guy, with the exception of what he said about women. But because it’s his yartzeit, we’ll call it a product of his time, and forgive him for it. Today.

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Laya Millman

1 Comment

  • BS”D
    Well, I am not sure the Guide to the Perplexed was not intended for the masses. In any case it was intended for the perplexed, and now they are masses…

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