Maimonides

Moshe ben Maimon ( Moshe ben Maymon), or Mūsā ibn Maymūn, acronymed Rambam (; – for „Rabbeinu Moshe Ben Maimon”, „Our Rabbi/Teacher Moses Son of Maimon”), and Graecized (and subsequently Latinized) Moses Maimonides ( ), a preeminent medieval Sephardic Jewish philosopher and astronomer, became one of the most prolific and influential Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages. Born in Cordova (present-day Spain), Almoravid Empire on Passover Eve, 1135 or 1138, he died in Egypt on December 12, 1204, whence his body was taken to the lower Galilee and buried in Tiberias. Abraham Zacuto, Sefer Yuchasin, Cracow 1580 (Hebrew), p. 261 in PDF, which reads: „… I saw in a booklet that the Ark of God, even Rabbi Moses b. Maimon, of blessed memory, had been taken up (i.e. euphemism for „had died”), in the year [4],965 anno mundi (= 1204/5 CE) in Egypt, and the Jews wept for him – as did [all] the Egyptians – three days, and they coined a name for that time of year, [saying], ‚there was wailing,’ and on the seventh day [of his passing], the news reached Alexandria, and on the eighth day, [the news reached] Jerusalem, and in Jerusalem they made a great public mourning [on his behalf] and called for a fast and public gathering, where it was that the prayer precentor read out the admonitions, ‚If you shall walk in my statutes [etc.]’ (Leviticus 26:3-ff.), as well as read the concluding verse [from the Prophets], ‚And it came to pass that Samuel spoke to all of Israel [etc.],’ and he then concluded by saying that the Ark of God had been taken away. Now after certain days they brought up his coffin to the Land of Israel, during which journey thieves encountered them, causing those who had gone up to flee, leaving there the coffin. Now the thieves, when they saw that they had all fled, they desired to have the coffin cast into the sea, but were unable with all their strength to uproot the coffin from the ground, even though they had been more than thirty men, and when they considered the matter, they then said to themselves that he was a godly and holy man, and so they went their way. However, they gave assurances to the Jews that they would escort them to their destination, and so it was that they also accompanied him and he was buried in Tiberias. During his lifetime, most Jews greeted Maimonides’ writings on Jewish law and ethics with acclaim and gratitude, even as far away as Iraq and Yemen, and although Maimonides rose to become the revered head of the Jewish community in Egypt, there were also vociferous critics of some of his writings, particularly in Spain. Nonetheless, he was posthumously acknowledged as among the foremost rabbinical arbiters and philosophers in Jewish history, and his copious work comprises a cornerstone of Jewish scholarship. His fourteen-volume Mishneh Torah still carries significant canonical authority as a codification of Talmudic law. In the Yeshiva world, he is called sometimes „ha Nesher ha Gadol” (the great eagle) in recognition of his outstanding status as a bona fide exponent of the Oral Torah. Aside from being revered by Jewish historians, Maimonides also figures very prominently in the history of Islamic and Arab sciences and is mentioned extensively in studies. Influenced by Avicenna (c. 980 – 1037), Averroes (1126–1198) and Al-Farabi (ca. 872–950/951), he in his turn influenced other prominent Arab and Muslim philosophers and scientists. He became a prominent philosopher and polymath in both the Jewish and Islamic worlds.

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